Professor Justin Ritzinger

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Justin Ritzinger

By Dale

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Justin Ritzinger

By Dale
In our first faculty spotlight, get to know Professor Justin Ritzinger from the Department of Religious Studies and how he discovered his field!

Hi, I’m Professor Ritzinger and I teach Asian religions in the Department of Religious Studies. I hail from Wisconsin, the land of beer, cheese, and classic rock.

When I was still in middle school, I saw a program on PBS about world religions that sparked by interest in Asian religions. I remember discovering fantastic stories, beautiful art, and profound ideas about the universe and our place in it. I was hooked.

I read whatever I could find and chose a university where I would be able to major in religious studies. This major quickly became an arena to contemplate big questions and also to study the history and culture of other societies and better understand what it means to be human in all its variety. After graduation, I spent four years in Asia, first on a Watson Fellowship, then working as a translator for a Buddhist organization in Taiwan. Ultimately, these experiences led me to pursue a Ph.D. and then to my position here at UM.

I hope that studying religion at UM will do the same thing for our students that it did for me: expose them to new and exciting ideas, open up whole worlds that they never knew existed, and equip them with the tools to understand other perspectives and practices. Success in almost any field requires more than just job knowledge. Our globalized world demands that we put ourselves in the shoes of someone different from us. No subject is better equipped to help students cultivate these skills than religious studies.