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About SOAS

Professor Diana Eck

Professor Diana Eck

Professor Diana Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, where she is a member of the Department of South Asian Studies and the Committee
on the Study of Religion. She is also a member of the Faculty of Divinity and, with the Rev. Dr Dorothy Austin, the Masters of Lowell House, one of Harvard University’s twelve undergraduate residential houses.

She grew up in Bozeman, Montana and in 1967 received her BA in Religion from Smith College. Her PhD in the Comparative Study of Religion was awarded by Harvard University.

Professor Diana Eck, Honorary Doctorate, 2013 Graduation

Professor Eck is a SOAS alumna and received an MA in Area Studies (South Asian Studies) in 1968.

Her book Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras (1993) won the 1995 Louisville Grawemeyer Book Award in Religion, given for work that reflects a significant breakthrough in our understanding of religion.

In 1991, Professor Eck launched the Pluralism Project to document and interpret the growing presence of the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Zoroastrian communities in the United States. On the basis of this research she wrote A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation (2001) addressing the challenges of the complex religious landscape emerging from the post-1965 period of renewed immigration for the United States.

In 1998 she received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the National Endowment for the Humanities for her work on American religious pluralism. Professor Eck received the American Academy of Religion Martin Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion in 2002 and from 2005-2006 she was President of the American Academy of Religion.

Professor Eck works closely with churches on issues of interreligious relations, including her own United Methodist Church and the World Council of Churches. She is currently chair of the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches.