About Jim Spickard


This is Jim Spickard’s courseware site.  Here is some information about him.

Mini-Biography

I was born and raised in Seattle, before the “coffee era” — and before the gentrification that hit the city sometime after I fled south.  I got a good education at public schools in the multi-ethnic Central District (Garfield High, class of 1966). In college, I discovered peace activism and a life-long concern for social justice. I graduated in 1970 with a B.A. in Intellectual History from Stanford and a second “degree” from the Palo Alto Police Department for “willfully and maliciously blocking a public street or sidewalk”. I went right into grad school but dropped out after finishing my M.A. because I needed to grow up. I worked in various theater companies in the San Francisco area for several years before finishing my Ph.D. in the Religion and Society program of the Graduate Theological Union. 

I taught my first college course in 1973, for the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California.  In the years since, I’ve taught courses on anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religious studies, and photography at various schools, including CND, Gavilan College, the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, Fielding Graduate University, and — since 1989 — at the University of Redlands.  Most often, I’ve gotten jobs because I can teach research methods and design, though I prefer teaching theory.  No matter: teaching is a lot of fun.

At this point, I am:

  • Professor of Sociology & Anthropology at Redlands
  • Secretary/Treasurer of the Redlands Chapter of the AAUP
  • President of the Research Committee on the Sociology of Religion of the International Sociological Association.

I live in Redlands, California half the year and spend the other half living outside San Antonio, Texas.  This split schedule feeds both my teaching and writing.

I love writing.  At this point, I’ve published six books, over 70 journal articles and book chapters, and a bunch of other stuff.  There’s more in the works.

Jim (on the right) with his brother Paul, who teaches ethnic history at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

My Books

Click on a book cover to purchase a printed copy from its publisher.
Alternative Sociologies of Religion:
Through Non-Western Eyes
NYU Press, 2017

Sociology has long used Western Christianity as a model for all religious life. As a result, the field has tended to highlight aspects of religion that Christians find important, such as religious beliefs and formal organizations, while paying less attention to other elements.   Rather than simply criticizing such limitations, this book imagines what the sociology of religion would look like had it arisen in three non-Western societies.  What aspects of religion would scholars see more clearly if they had been raised in Confucian China?  What could they learn about religion from Ibn Khaldun, the famed 14th century Arab scholar?  What would they better understand, had they been born Navajo, whose traditional religion certainly does not revolve around beliefs and organizations?
Research Basics: From Design to
Data analysis in Six Steps
Sage, 2017

Offers a fresh and creative approach to the research process.  Using an intuitive six-step model, readers learn how to craft a research question and then identify a logical process for answering it. Conversational writing and multi-disciplinary examples illuminate the model’s simplicity and power, effectively connecting the “hows” and “whys” behind social science research. Students using this book will learn how to turn their research questions into results.
Religion Crossing Boundaries:
Transnational Religious and Social Dynamics in Africa and the New African Diaspora
(edited with Afe Adogame)
Brill 2010

This collection of essays explores the recent growth of transnational religious networks that connect African peoples with each other and with other parts of the world.  Topics include: the transnational spread of new African Christianity, transnational Pentecostalism, religion’s role in transnational migration, tri- and multi-national religious trade networks, and the consequences of having transnational religious connections for Africa itself.  Volume 18 in the Association for the Sociology of Religion’s Religion and Social Order series.
 Thinking Through Statistics:
Exploring Quantitative Sociology
Toroverde Press, 2005

Most statistics books bury you in math. This one starts with “Why Bother?”  Through concrete examples, it shows how to identify the data you need, how to organize that data for analysis, how to choose the right statistical routine, and how to interpret the results.
Together with the its companions software,  Thinking Through Statistics leads you step by step through the process of statistical reasoning.
Download the free accompanying
software (Windows) here.
 Personal Knowledge and Beyond:
Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion
NYU Press, 2002
(edited with J. Shawn Landres &
Meredith McGuire)

This collection probes the transformation of anthropological practice that has taken place in recent years — especially as it applies to the study of religion. Deliberately diverse, provocative and boundary-breaking, its contributors seek new tools for understanding religion in the contemporary world. Chapters cover such topics as fieldwork among contemporary witches, the personal impact of family violence on the researcher, and the epistemological problems of studying religion in a post-colonial era
World History by the World’s Historians
McGraw-Hill, 1998
(edited with Paul R. Spickard & Kevin Cragg)

This collection presents some of the finest historical writing ever produced: by historians from all parts of the globe, and from 3000 years ago to the present day. Designed to accompany college courses in World History and in Historiography, it was the first reader to bring non-Western historians into the canon. It includes biographies of and sample passages from 56 historians chosen for their excellence and their diversity.
(out of print:
click the cover to
search used book sites)

NOTE: The blue cover is the one-volume version; the red and green covers are volumes 1 & 2 of the two-volume version, respectively

Many of my articles are posted on the University of Redlands’ “Our House” open-access archive.
To find them, search for “Spickard” at http://InSPIRe.Redlands.Edu

In addition:

+ My article “Simulating Sects” is based on a computer simulation. You can
download a copy of the article from Our House,  the simulation HERE (Windows)
and the source code HERE.  The related simulation “Choosing Neighbors” is HERE.

+ My 1999 report on the Demography of the Salton Sea Region is HERE (2+MB PDF)

+ Download free Windows software for teaching social statistics HERE.