The new faces of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies


August 19, 2019

The 2019–20 school year is about to begin, and with new beginnings come new faces on the Arizona State University campuses.

The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies is happy to welcome its new faculty members to the team. As the school continues to thrive, new opportunities for research and studies are opening up to include some incredible colleagues. New faculty at ASU's School of Historical Philosophical and Religious Studies New faculty at ASU's School of Historical Philosophical and Religious Studies. Starting in the top left and reading left to right: Shamara Wyllie Alhassan, Kimberly Allar, Richard Amesbury, Evan Berry, Lei Duan, James Dupey, Blake Hartung, James Hrdlicka, Kathleen Kole de Peralta, Peter Kung, Jacqueline Willy Romero and Ryan Wolfson-Ford. Download Full Image

Shamara Wyllie Alhassan

Assistant professor, religious studies

Shamara Wyllie Alhassan is joining the school from Rhode Island where she has been living for the last six years. She has been the recipient of many awards including the African and African Diaspora Studies Dissertation Fellowship at Boston College, Cogut Institutes for the Humanities Dissertation Fellowship at Brown University, as well as a Fulbright scholarship, to name a few.

Her research focuses on Rastafari studies, womanism, Africana spiritual practices, Africana philosophy and diaspora studies, among other interests. She has been widely published in national reviews, journals, anthologies and documentaries for her research in Rastafari women, the Pan-African world and Caribbean studies. She attended Brown University, where she received her PhD in Africana studies.

Kimberly Allar

Clinical assistant professor, history

Kimberly Allar will be joining the school’s World War II studies program after spending a year as an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Her research looks at the recruitment and training of guards who worked in concentration camps and killing centers from 1933–1945.

Articles she has written have been published by German and American distributors and she is working on her second book which looks at the role of atrocity, war, gender, memory and the law. She holds a PhD in history and genocide studies from Clark University.

Richard Amesbury

Professor and school director, religious studies

Richard Amesbury is the school’s new director. Ahead of coming to the school, he was at Clemson University for two years, where he was professor of philosophy and religious studies and chair of the department of philosophy and religion. Before that, he was professor of ethics in the theology faculty of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

He is the author of two books, “Faith and Human Rights: Christianity and the Global Struggle for Human Dignity,” and “Morality and Social Criticism: The Force of Reasons in Discursive Practice,” with two more under contract with University of Notre Dame Press and Columbia University Press. In addition, he sits on multiple committees and boards and is the religion and law editor for Religious Studies Review. Amesbury holds a PhD in religion from Claremont Graduate University.

Evan Berry

Assistant professor, religious studies

Evan Berry joins the school from American University where he was an associate professor of philosophy and religion, graduate programs director and an affiliate faculty in global environmental politics and in Latin American and Latino studies. He is the recipient of many awards including the Rachel Carson Center Writing Fellowship and U.S. Department of State Office of Religion and Global Affairs Franklin Fellow.

His research and publications explore religion and climate change along with social conflict in contemporary Latin America, climate politics and religion and nature. Berry received his PhD in religious studies from University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lei Duan

Lecturer, history

Lei Duan joins the faculty at ASU after serving as a postdoctoral scholar and lecturer at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. He is trained as a historian of China and Asia and is currently working on a book entitled “Arming and Disarming: The Culture and Politics of Guns in Modern China,” which is under contract with University of Michigan Press.

He is the recipient of research and travel grants and research fellowships from a great number of institutions including the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, American Historical Association, Princeton University and Harvard University. Duan holds a PhD in history from Syracuse University.

James Dupey

Clinical assistant professor, history

James Dupey is a 2018 ASU alumnus (where he received his PhD) and arrives back to ASU from Eastern Washington University where he has been teaching for a year. His research primarily focuses on North American history, religion, economic history and print culture.

He has published his research in “Journal of the Civil War Era,” and “Journal of Southern Religion,” and speaks at many conferences across the country.

Blake Hartung

Instructor, religious studies

Blake Hartung is a religious studies instructor in the school. His research focuses on Christianity in the late antique near Eastern and Western Asia, biblical exegesis and reception history, early Christian liturgical poems and homilies and archaeology and manuscript studies.

He is the recipient of many honors and awards including the Swenson Family Fellowship in Eastern Christian Manuscript Studies, Mellon Vatican Film Library Research Fellowship and Saint Louis University Conference Presentation Grant, among others. He holds a PhD in historical theology with a concentration in early Christianity from Saint Louis University.

James Hrdlicka

Postdoctoral scholar, political history and leadership program

James Hrdlicka is joining ASU after two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was affiliated with the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. He spent the past year in Boston, curating an exhibition on early American constitutions and writing the catalogue that will accompany the exhibition when it opens at the New York Historical Society in February 2020.

He has been published in such journals as “The New England Quarterly.” Hrdlicka received his PhD in philosophy and history from the University of Virginia.

Kathleen Kole de Peralta

Clinical assistant professor, history

Kathleen Kole de Peralta is arriving from Idaho State University. She is a historian who integrates the history of medicine and environment on early-modern Iberia and Peru to investigate the relationship between environment and health and uses digital humanities to make open-access projects.

Her co-authored book, “Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida: Don Juan and the Guale Uprising of 1597,” came out in 2017 from the American Museum of Natural History. She holds a PhD in Latin American history from the University of Notre Dame.

Peter Kung

Associate professor, philosophy

Peter Kung is an associate professor of philosophy in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. His research focuses on thought experiments, the exploration of imagination and its connection to modality as well as skeptical challenges in traditional epistemology.

He is the recipient of the Henry M. MacCracken Fellowship at New York University and honorable mention for the Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship. Kung received his PhD in philosophy from New York University.

Jacqueline Willy Romero

Instructor, history

Jacqueline Willy Romero moves into her new role of instructor of history after teaching for two years at ASU while completing her PhD. She has received multiple travel awards, fellowships and research awards in recent years and has been published in “American Catholic Studies.”

Her research focuses on the 19th century United States, with an emphasis on women and religion. Primarily interested in how women have historically made their choices, Romero looks further into cases of "problematic women" who had done both a lot of good and a lot of harm as historical agents. She received her PhD in history from ASU.

Ryan Wolfson-Ford

Lecturer, history and Asian studies

Arriving from Marist College, Ryan Wolfson-Ford is joining the history faculty as lecturer of history and Asian studies. His work focuses on Laos during the Vietnam War and asks what role did the Lao play in the course of events and why did they believe certain ideologies at the time?

Currently he is working on publishing with Manchester University Press and has appeared in journals such as South East Asia Research, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and Interpretative Studies on Southeast Asian Culture. He holds a PhD in history from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

ASU Law welcomes its most highly credentialed class

Third straight year of record-setting class of incoming JD students


August 19, 2019

Ranked a top nine public law school in the nation, No. 27 among all law schools according to U.S. News & World Report and No. 23 on the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University continues to be a premier choice for law school students around the country.

Once again, ASU Law welcomes the most highly credentialed class in its history. The 271 incoming fall 2019 JD students have a median LSAT score of 164 and a median GPA of 3.81, up from last year’s 163 and 3.76. The group hails from more than 130 undergraduate institutions, 38 states and eight countries. In addition to setting records for entering credentials, ASU Law also set its all-time record for JD applications at more than 3,700 (more than a 10% increase), while nationally, applications were down 1.5%. photo of fall 2019 ASU Law class Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law incoming fall 2019 students participate in orientation on Monday at the Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Download Full Image

“We recognize that LSAT and GPA, although useful predictors of law school success, are not perfect. A far stronger indicator is actual performance in law school,” said Andrew Jaynes, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at ASU Law.

A total of 299 students will be taking first-year JD classes, 28 of whom are part of ASU Law’s Master of Legal Studies Honors (MLSH) program. The MLSH is an innovative program that allows students an opportunity to gain admission to the JD program through classroom performance.

At ASU Law, students have the opportunity to tailor their education from over 250 unique courses to match their interests.

“Today’s law student is looking for a unique law school experience and to learn from professors that have real-world experience,” ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester said. “Additionally, outcomes are an important criteria in their selection process. At ASU Law we don’t think providing a top-notch legal education is enough. We were No. 15 last year in employment, and with a dedicated career services department we continue to make employment after law school a priority.”

ASU Law also offers a number of programs and externships, more than any other law school, that are led and supported by faculty, staff and other experts who are passionately focused on student success. Rising second-year JD candidate Anthony Studnicka knows this firsthand as he spent this past summer working with the Arizona Coyotes.

“The experience has been nothing short of incredible. I believe what sets ASU Law apart is the abundance of resources set in place to help students succeed not only inside, but outside of the classroom,” Studnicka said. “From resume help to assistance with externship placement, ASU Law really wants their students to succeed in the real world, and if you as a student take the time to utilize the resources, success is possible for anyone.”

ASU Law is also proud to announce that nine new faculty join the team this year to continue to bridge theory and practice. In the past three years, ASU Law has added 22 faculty to its roster. Last year, Gregg Leslie, executive director of ASU Law’s First Amendment Clinic and professor of practice, began his inaugural year with ASU Law. A year later he now sees the impact a comprehensive law school can have on its students and the surrounding community.

“The clinic students have had several opportunities to apply their legal knowledge to help those with First Amendment-related issues,” Leslie said. “It’s been wonderful seeing the students gain experience while helping journalists and other speakers gain access to information or fight for their rights. We’ve been working with clients trying to obtain police records and sealed documents in a criminal prosecution over border crossings, defending against penalties for printing court records, and fighting libel suits. These opportunities provide vital hands-on experience that will help these students greatly as they move on to law firm jobs.”

ASU Law also continues to see diversity in its incoming student group. This year the law school welcomes a majority of female students in its JD class at 52%, up from 48% last year. Over 30% of the new incoming JD students identify as a racial or ethnic minority (up from 21% last year), and over 10% of students identify as LGBTQ+. Additionally, 63% of the class (up from 57% last year) comes from outside of Arizona, solidifying ASU Law’s position as a destination law school for students around the country and the world.

The law school also offers nearly 50 student organizations that students can participate in, many appealing to diverse personal and career interests. These organizations include the Women Law Students’ Association, the Federalist Society, Asian Pacific American Law Students, Diverse Students Coalition, Environmental Law Society, Black Law Students Association and many others.

For individuals who want to expand their knowledge of the U.S. legal system to enhance their career opportunities without becoming an attorney, ASU Law offers a one-year Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree. MLS program enrollment also increased with 32 MLS on-ground students and 143 MLS online students. The MLS graduate program continues to identify trending industry needs to provide students with new focus areas of legal study, such as the construction law and gaming and governance law programs, all without becoming a lawyer. The Master of Sports Law and Business program also welcomes 54 new students, including those who are part of the Veterans Sports Law and Business program. Additionally, the Masters of Law (LLM) program will welcome eight new admits.

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

480-727-6990