Matthew L. Duperon, Ph.D.

Department: Religious Studies

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

  • Education
  • MA, Cornell University
  • BA, College of William and Mary
  • PHD, Brown University

What makes the best kind of human life? This question fuels my work and my personal life. It is a question of interest to both college students and the world's most brilliant and influential thinkers. What began as a hunch that I could better understand the answer by studying classical Chinese religious thought, led me to learn Mandarin and classical Chinese, to study abroad at Tsinghua University in Beijing and National Taiwan University in Taipei and to earn a PhD in religious studies at Brown University, Providence, R.I.

Living my best life as a religious studies professor at Susquehanna centers on teaching and writing about comparative ethics. In one upper-level ethics class, Being Awesome at Life, I get to share the most challenging, intriguing ideas about human flourishing with students and we explore together how we can use these ideas to better all of our lives.

Meanwhile, I'm still learning how I want to live, influenced by my career and my relationships with those inside and outside the SU community. Living in Selinsgrove means I can see my neighbors and experience the seasons on my daily bike ride to work, and I can come home at the end of the day to the house where three of my four children were born (one of whom I delivered myself!). My wife and I can learn to live more sustainably here, getting much of our food from our friends and neighbors, eating seasonally and learning how to raise a family.

2011 - Present Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies
Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA
2009 - 2010 Lecturer, Department of Religion
Trinity College, Hartford, CT

2013 Ph.D., Brown University, Religious Studies
Fields: Early Chinese Religion and Philosophy, Comparative Religious Ethics
Dissertation: "'The Way Comes About as We Walk It': The Huainanzi and Classical Daoist Ethics"
Committee: Dr. Hal Roth (director), Dr. Thomas A. Lewis, Dr. Mark Cladis, Dr. Henry Rosemont, Jr., Dr. Stephen Bush

2011 M.A., Brown University, Religious Studies

2006 M.A., Cornell University, Asian Studies
Thesis: "The Contemplative Idiom in Chan Buddhist Rhetoric and Indian and Chinese Alchemy"
Advisor: Dr. Daniel Boucher

2003 B.A., The College of William and Mary, Religion

Warring States and early Han dynasty intellectual history, comparative ethics and philosophy, contemporary Confucian religiosity, early Chinese environmental ethics

Journal Articles
"The Role of Qing 情 in the Huainanzi" in Early China vol. 38 (2015)

"Axiomatic Belief and the Viability of Confucianism as a Modern Religious Tradition in the Secular West" in preparation

"Learning for Oneself: A Confucian-inspired Case for Moral Formation in Ethics Pedagogy." Forthcoming in Teaching Theology and Religion. 

"Solving for the Triad: Xunzi and Wendell Berry on Sustainable Agriculture as Ethical Practice" Philosophy East & West vol. 67 no.2 380-398 (April 2017)

"'Knowing what is Sufficient' and the Embodied Nature of Contentment in Laozi and the ‘Neiye' Chapter of Guanzi" Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy vol. 16 no.2 205-219 (Spring 2017)


2012 "Solving for the Triad: Xunzi on Sustainability as Ethical Practice" Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy annual meeting, Carbondale, IL

2012 "Daoism, Dewey, and the Ethics of Participation" Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Toronto, Canada.

2009 "Xunzi's Concept of the Self as Creative Engagement " Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy annual meeting, Monterey, CA

2009 "Xunzi, Self, and the Problem of Authoritarianism in Early Confucian Ethics" New England Ethics Colloquium, Providence, RI

2013 "Rethinking Categories in/of Philosophy and Religion: The Place of Nonwestern Thought and Practice" panel discussion with Prof. William Edelglass of Marlboro College at Susquehanna University

2012, 2013 "Confucianism and East Asian Social Values" for the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia seminar at Bucknell University

2012 "Daoism and East Asian Art and Culture" for the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia seminar at Bucknell University

2012 "Solving for the Triad: Xunzi on Sustainability as Ethical Practice" School of Arts and Sciences colloquium at Susquehanna University

2012 "Daoist Breath Cultivation and the Foundation of Chinese Martial Arts" at the annual Martial Arts Symposium at Susquehanna University

2010 Respondent, Religion and Critical Thought Colloquium at Brown University

2010 "Sincerity and Early Chinese Religious Ethics" presented by invitation at Brown University Office of Chaplains and Religious Life Thursday Night Supper conversation series

2012 Research mini-grant, Susquehanna University
2010 - 2011 Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Brown University
2009 Conference Travel Grant, Brown University
2008 Ministry of Education Mandarin Enrichment Scholarship, National Taiwan University, Republic of China (Taiwan)
2008 Research Travel Grant, Brown University

2007 - 2009 Summer Study Fellowships, Brown University
2007 Graduate Fellowship, Brown University
2004 U. S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Cornell University (summer)

RELI 101: Introduction to Religious Studies
RELI 117: Introduction to Asian Religions
RELI 208: Buddhism
RELI 315/HONS 301: Being Awesome at Life
RELI 318/HONS 301: Daoist and Confucian Ethics
ENGL 100: Writing and Thinking
OFFP-CHINA: GO China - Past, Present, and Future

2014 Manuscript reviewer, Philosophy East & West

2012 Organized panel on new research in Daoist ethics at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting


Committees and Programs
2015 - Present Member, Faculty Advisory Committee on Religious and Spiritual Life
2013 - Present Member, Curriculum Committee
2013 - 2014 Member, Learning Management Systems Taskforce
2012 - 2015 Member, Committee on Teaching and Learning
2011 - Present Member, Asian Studies Program

Pedagogical Development
Actively participated in more than thirty Lunch n' Learn and Tech Talk sessions organized by the Center for Teaching and Learning, 2011-present
Member of Teaching Cell with faculty from various disciplines

Senior Capstones Directed
Catherine Patschke, "Goddess Tara: Religious and Artistic Interpretations," International Studies Fall 2014

S. Katherine Taylor, "Islam and Christianity: An Exploration of Theology and Femininity," Religious Studies Spring 2013

Sophomore Essays Directed
Jack McAnany, "Behind the Fight: The Influence of Confucianism and Taoism on the Martial Arts," Fall 2012.

Additional Service
Contributed to the redesign of the Religious Studies major curriculum, Spring 2012
Contributed to organization of various Asian Studies events, including 2012 Asian Studies Symposium, Asian Studies Film Series, annual Chinese New Year Celebrations, and more
Guest lecturer, ENGL 250: Asian Literature (Dr. Rachana Sachdev), Fall 2014
Guest lecturer, HIST 152: Modern East Asia (Dr. Lisong Liu), Fall 2013
Guest lecturer, HIST 151: Traditional East Asia (Dr. Lisong Liu), Fall 2012
Guest lecturer, MUSC 152: World Music Perspectives (Chi-chen Wu), Fall 2011
New faculty mentor, ongoing.
Facilitator, Susquehanna University Meditation and Contemplative Practice Group, 2012 - Present
Organized various sessions exposing students to contemplative practice traditions, both on- and off-campus.
Contributed to expansion of RS department's annual Luther Lunch to include ongoing conversation series for students
Mental Health First Aid training and certification, Spring 2013

East Snyder Community Garden, volunteer
Red Cross Blood Donor, over 3.5 gallons donated to date

May 2015: Co-director, GO-China undergraduate cultural immersion program in Beijing, PRC
May 2008 - August 2008: International Chinese Language Program at National Taiwan University, Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan)
January 2005 - May 2005: Inter-university Program for Advanced Chinese Language Study at Tsinghua University, Beijing, PRC
July 2002 - August 2002: Field research on hybrid Catholic-folk religious ritual in Honduras

Classical Chinese - reading proficiency
Modern Mandarin Chinese - reading, speaking, writing proficiency
French - reading proficiency
German - reading proficiency

American Academy of Religion
Society for the Study of Chinese Religions
Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy
International Society for Chinese Philosophy
Association for Asian Studies
Society for the Study of Early China
Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education

Courses taught:

  • HONS-301 Confucian Ethics
  • PRDV-111 Purpose of the Liberal Arts
  • RELI-101 Introduction to Religious Studies
  • RELI-117 Introduction to Asian Religions
  • RELI-150 Introduction to Contemplative Studies
  • RELI-208 Buddhism
  • RELI-315 Being Awesome At Life
  • RELI-316 Daoism, Zen, and Authenticity
  • RELI-318 Confucian Ethics
  • RELI-400 Advanced Buddhism
  • RELI-400 Intro to Asian Religions
  • RELI-400 Myth & Religion of the Norse
  • RELI-500 Capstone