Sue Darlington is Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Hampshire College, and Dean of the School of Critical Social Inquiry. Her teaching focuses on environmental anthropology and Buddhism and society, with an emphasis on socially engaged Buddhism. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 1990, and has taught at Hampshire since. She is currently the chair of the Thailand/Laos/Cambodia Group of the Association for Asian Studies.
Sue’s book, The Ordination of a Tree: The Thai Buddhist Environmental Movement, published by SUNY Press in 2012 (Thai translation published by Suan Nguen Mii Maa, Bangkok, 2015), is based on extensive research in Thailand with Buddhist monks who undertake conservation and rural development projects based on their interpretation of Buddhist teachings. Her new research aims to extend this project comparatively across other Buddhist societies in Asia and possibly the United States. In 2014, she traveled to Bhutan to visit a Hampshire alum, and hopes to focus some of her Buddhist environmental research there. She is examining comparative perspectives of how Buddhists in different societies view the environment and whether and how they engage Buddhism for environmental work.
As a member of the faculty team that was awarded a Luce Initiative for Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) grant, Sue has built partnerships between Hampshire and non-governmental organizations in Northern Thailand. These organizations all work on environmental and community sustainability, and offer Hampshire students study abroad, internship, and research opportunities. Six students accompanied Sue to Nan Province in January 2016 for two weeks to study and engage sustainable agriculture and community development through JOKO Community Learning Center. Twelve students joined her and Five College Assistant Professor of Sustainable Architecture Naomi Darling to work with JOKO to identify potential design projects that promote and support JOKO’s sustainability goals. This trip was funded by the LIASE grant and a grant from the Roddenberry Foundation.
Sue directs Hampshire’s Tibetan Studies Program, which is part of the Five College exchange program with the Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS) in Sarnath, India. She led the Five College Jan-term program several times. In addition, she visited eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) in 2009 with Hampshire alum, Meg Ferrigno, who helps administrate several rural schools for semi-nomadic children in Kham Province. Sue now serves on the Board of Directors for Meg’s non-profit organization, The Pureland Project, which “works to empower grassroots movements for environmental sustainability and community wellness through experiential education. The project serves to give voice and support to underserved communities using the principals of compassion and non-violence” (see the Pureland Project website). Sue is a board member of Jampel Nyingpo Ling, Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies in Amherst, MA.
Sue’s other interests include photography, gardening, and dogs (particularly German shepherds; she is a volunteer photographer for the German Shepherd Rescue of New England).