Duncan Ryūken Williams, PhD

Sep 8, 2020

In addition to serving as Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures at USC, Duncan Ryūken Williams, PhD is director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. Formerly chair of USC’s School of Religion, he earlier held the Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism at UC Berkeley and directed Berkeley’s Center for Japanese Studies. Dr. Williams was ordained as a priest in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition in 1993 and served as Harvard University’s Buddhist chaplain from 1994-96. 

Born to a Japanese mother and British father, he grew up in Japan and England and moved to the U.S. at age 17 to attend Reed College. He received his PhD in religion from Harvard University. Dr. Williams has authored and edited numerous books on Buddhism in Japan and the U.S. He has also translated four books from Japanese into English including Putting Buddhism to Work: A New Theory of Economics and Business Management (Kodansha, 1997). His latest book is American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War (Harvard University Press, 2019), which reached #3 on the Los Angeles Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Storyteller, Inspiring Stories for Uncertain Times: Healing Our Hearts

Speaker, Resilience and Freedom: How Enduring Lessons from the WWII Japanese American Buddhist Experience Can Heal Us Today