Dr. Stephen C. Berkwitz


Languages Cultures and Religions

Role: Faculty
Campus: Springfield

Postal mail

Missouri State University
Languages Cultures and Religions
901 S. National Ave.
Springfield, MO 65897


Dr. Stephen Berkwitz is an expert in religious studies with a special focus on South Asian religions. Since 2001, Berkwitz has published dozens of publications relating to Buddhism and South Asian culture. His books include Routledge Handbook of Theravada Buddhism, co-ed. w/ Ashley Thompson (Routledge, 2022) and Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka (Oxford University Press, 2013).

He is the department head of religious studies at Missouri State University. He serves as series editor for the Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism series, as well as on the editorial board of the journals "Religion," "Journal of Global Buddhism" and "Buddhist Studies Review." Berkwitz has received several fellowships to conduct research in Sri Lanka, Germany and Portugal, and he holds several professional memberships relating to Asian Studies and Buddhism.



  • PhD, Religious Studies, 1999, University of California – Santa Barbara
  • MA, Religious Studies, 1994, University of California – Santa Barbara
  • BA, Religion, 1991, University of Vermont


  • World Religions
  • Buddhism
  • Religions of China and Japan
  • Yoga and Meditation
  • Theories of Religion
  • Religion, Colonialism, Post-colonialism

Research and professional interests

  • Buddhist studies
  • Theravada Buddhism
  • Sinhala and Pali literature
  • South Asian religions
  • Religion and colonialism

Awards and honors

  • Visiting Research Fellowship, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 2017
  • Wabash Center Undergraduate Department Grant, 2015-2017
  • Visiting Research Fellowship, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 2011
  • Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning Project Grant, 2010
  • Luso-American Foundation Scholarship, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 2009
  • Fulbright Senior Scholar Award in Sri Lanka, U.S. Department of State, 2005
  • College Research Award, College of Humanities and Public Affairs, Southwest Missouri State University, 2005
  • University Teaching Award, Southwest Missouri State University, 2004

Additional resources

Area of expertise

Religions of the world Asia

Media appearances

Asian studies minor at Missouri State University offers chance to learn about a new culture and lang
MSU Religious Studies Department Head Dr. Stephen Berkwitz talks about the university's Asian Studies minor.

Everything to Know About the Buddhist Holiday Asalha Puja and What It Celebrates
Woman's Day
South Asian religions and culture expert Dr. Stephen Berkwitz explains about Asalha Puja.

Relieve Your Stress With Yoga and Meditation
South Asian religions and culture expert Dr. Stephen Berkwitz offers some insights about yoga and meditation.

Promoting the Study of Religion for 50 Years
MSU Religious Studies Department Head Dr. Stephen Berkwitz highlights the department, its achievements over the years and plans for its 50th anniversary celebration.


Scholar explores one of world's oldest Buddhist traditions