Union News

Dr. Rima Vesely-Flad ’02 Joins Union as Visiting Professor of Buddhism and Black Studies

Categories: Union News

We are very excited to announce that Dr. Rima Vesely-Flad ’02 will be joining the Union Theological Seminary community as the Visiting Professor of Buddhism and Black Studies. Dr. Vesely-Flad is the author of Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition: The Practice of Stillness in the Movement for Liberation (NYU Press, 2022) and Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice (Fortress Press, 2017). Since 2013, she has taught courses in philosophy, religion, and social theory at Warren Wilson College, and also served as the college’s director of Peace and Justice Studies, which included co-founding and directing a higher education program at a state prison. She leads retreats and classes for dharma centers throughout the United States.

“Dr. Vesely-Flad’s exciting work so clearly aligns with the aims of the Buddhism and Interreligious Engagement program at Union. I have no doubt she will be a rich complement to the program, a dynamic support and instructor for our students, and a vital colleague and thought partner.” – Kosen Gregory Snyder.

“I am very excited to welcome back Union alumna, Dr. Vesely-Flad, now as part of our faculty. She is an outstanding scholar and activist who exemplifies Union’s mission to Reimagine the Work of Justice,” said Union President, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones. “I look forward to her many contributions to Union’s Thich Nhat Hanh Program for Engaged Buddhism.”

Dr. Vesely-Flad will be teaching two courses in the upcoming year – The Dharma of James Baldwin and Audre Lorde as well as Buddhism, Race, Gender, and Sexuality. Having worked as a chaplain and completed her doctoral work at Union in Social Ethics, she will also be offering courses on Buddhist ethics and chaplaincy. Her current work explores and theorizes liberation at the intersection of Black liberationist movements and Black Buddhist practice in ways that are critical and highly generative for socially engaged Buddhist studies and thinking more generally about the role of spirituality within liberatory movements in the United States.

 “I am thrilled to join the UTS faculty and bring all of my passion for centering Black voices in the evolution of American Buddhism. My scholarship and activism have been deeply formed by studying Black Liberation Theology at UTS.  Furthermore, I am honored to join the Thich Nhat Hanh Program for Engaged Buddhism, as he is the founder of the dharma community in which I learned to meditate, and was at the forefront of embodying the commitment to contemplation and justice-making. UTS is the ideal place to bring together the profound traditions of Engaged Buddhism and Black Liberation Theology.” – Rima Vesely-Flad.

With great enthusiasm, we welcome back Dr. Vesely-Flad to her home at Union.