Vic  Thasiah

Vic Thasiah, Ph.D.

Professor of Religion
Humanities 217

Office Hours: By appointment


Vic teaches in the environmental humanities. He has a background in humanitarian work in East Africa, working across Rwanda with former Rwandan refugees and survivors of genocide. Research interests include: Chinese nature poetry; natural history and Traditional Ecological Knowledge; environmental philosophy, advocacy, and activism; and Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

He is currently writing a book titled “Ground Truth: The Natural World, Outdoor Recreation, and Environmental Activism,” which explores the potential of our respective cultural heritages (where we are and who we are, Indigenous and non-indigenous) to both deepen our connection and affinity with nature on the one hand, and prime and shape a more respectful, meaningful, and enjoyable experience of human-powered outdoor recreation on the other. Based on this enhanced relationship with the natural world, the book proposes a vision of advocacy and activism as acting in partnership with the physical environment and nonhuman organisms, and with both Native and non-Native communities, to protect and support natural landscapes and biodiverse ecosystems, and ensure just, equitable, and sustainable access to them.

Vic is an affiliated faculty member in Environmental Studies, the founder of the nonprofit environmental organization Runners for Public Lands (where he served as the executive director from 2019-2022), and a board member of Los Padres ForestWatch (2022-). As an avid trail and ultra runner, he is developing a new CLU environmental studies course on outdoor recreation and environmental activism.

See a recent interview of Vic on trail running, and problems and prospects associated with public lands.

Op-ed: "Equitable Access to Wonder" (on the PUBLIC Lands Act)


Assistant Professor, 2011-2016

Associate Professor, 2016-2022

Department Chair, 2018-2022

Professor, 2022- 


Certified California Naturalist

Ph.D., University of Oxford 

M.Div., Princeton Seminary

B.A., UC Santa Cruz

Fresno City College


Selected Course Topics

Zen Buddhism in the West

Critical Environmental Justice

Religion and Political Thought

Violence, Religion, and Politics

Global Environmental Activism

Religion, Identity, and Vocation


Current Work

Ground Truth: The Natural World, Outdoor Recreation, and Environmental Activism (book in progress)

Selected Book Chapters

"Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's Ecological Imagination" (forthcoming in a book on nature and non-dualism).

"Race and Climate: Decolonizing Liberal Arts Education," in So That All May Flourish, eds. Marcia J. Bunge, Jason A. Mahn, and Martha E. Stortz (Fortress Press, 2023).

"Religion, Forestry, and Democracy in Rwanda after Genocide," in Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril, eds. Lisa E. Dahill and Jim Martin-Schramm (Wipf & Stock, 2016). Review.

"The Right to Freedom of Association: Organizing in Rwanda after Genocide," in On Secular Governance: Lutheran Perspectives on Contemporary Legal Issues, eds. Marie A. Failinger and Ronald W. Duty (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016).

"Reconfiguring Rwandan Church-State Relations," in Lutheran Identity and Political Theology, eds. Carl Henric-Grenholm and Goran Gunner (Wipf & Stock, 2014).

Selected Journal Articles

"Collapsing Space and Time: Thich Nhat Hanh's Ecological Humanism," Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Vol. 29, 2022.

"Critically Engaging Public Officials in Rwanda," Studies in World Christianity 23:3 (2017), 257-280.

Selected Presentations

"Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh on Environmental Justice," American Academy of Religion, Denver, Colorado, November 20, 2022.

"Toward an Asian-American Philosophy of Nature: Thich Nhat Hanh on Wildness and Wellness," American Academy of Religion (Western Region), March 20, 2021.

"Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh on Decolonizing Your Mind," American Academy of Religion, Denver, Colorado, November 19, 2018.

"Incubating Democracy in Development in Rwanda," Religion and Power: New Directions in Social Ethics Conference, Princeton University, March 12, 2015. Invited presentation.

"'Things Are Not Okay in Rwanda If You Shut Up': Community Organizing Practices and Human Rights Advocacy after Genocide," Society of Christian Ethics, Chicago, January 11, 2015.

"Countering Complicity: Rwandan Political Theology after Genocide," American Academy of Religion, San Diego, California, November 23, 2014.

"The Right to Freedom of Association: Organizing in Rwanda after Genocide," Lutheran Perspectives on Contemporary Legal Issues, Valparaiso University Law School, Chicago, March 27, 2014.

"Toward a Rwandan Political Theology," Remembering the Past, Living the Future: Lutheran Tradition in Transition Conference, University of Uppsala, Sweden, October 9, 2013.

"On Religious Anarchism," Third International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society, March 9, 2013.

"Second Realities: Karl Barth's Ethics and Socially-Engaged Art," Society of Christian Ethics (Pacific Meeting), February 10, 2012.

"On Comprehensive Immigration Reform," Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting, January 8, 2010.

"Faith and Immigration Reform," Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Briefing, Washington, D.C., October 14, 2009. 


Grant Funding

$1,250 Hewlett Faculty Research Grant, 2023

$40,000 Sabbatical Research Grant, Louisville Institute, 2017-2018

$5,000 CLU Faculty Research and Creative Work Grant, 2014

$5,000 Wabash Summer Research Grant, 2013

$1,250 Hewlett Faculty Research Grant, 2013