Anna Sun headshot

The Fetzer Institute announces the election of Anna Sun, PhD, to its Board of Trustees, effective June 1, 2023.

Dr. Sun is an associate professor of Religious Studies and Sociology at Duke University. Her scholarly work focuses on Confucianism and contemporary Chinese religious life.

Born in Beijing, China, Dr. Sun grew up in an environment infused with Confucian values that emphasized familial care, social responsibility, and the importance of learning. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California Berkeley and a PhD from Princeton University. Dr. Sun taught at Kenyon College and Harvard Divinity School before joining the faculty at Duke University.

“The board of trustees is unanimous in its enthusiasm in welcoming Anna Sun as a trustee,” said Carolyn Brown, Fetzer Institute board chair. “She brings generosity and warmth, and a gracious and luminous spirit to all of her work. She is highly respected in her professional field of sociology and Chinese religion and is skilled in communicating her expertise to non-specialists. As leader of the Confucian Team of the shared sacred story project, she has shown herself to be a dedicated and energetic team member, an accomplished scholar whose perspective is ecumenical, and in all ways a sensitive, collaborative participant. Working with her is a complete joy and delight.”

Dr. Sun is a prolific writer and researcher. Her first book, Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities (Princeton University Press, 2013), received the Distinguished Book Award in sociology of religion from the American Sociological Association and was named the Best First Book in the History of Religion by the American Academy of Religion. A co-edited volume on the sociology of spirituality, Situating Spirituality: Context, Practice, and Power (with Brian Steensland and Jaime Kucinskas), was published by Oxford University Press in 2021. In 2023 Against Happiness, co-authored with a team of interdisciplinary researchers of human well-being that argues for a more nuanced conception of the good life that includes the common good and moral values, was published by Columbia University Press.

A leader in her field, Dr. Sun has been vice president of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions (2017-2020) and has served two terms as co-chair of the Chinese Religions Unit of the American Academy of Religion (2015-2021). She is currently the Confucian Scholar-Practitioner team lead for Fetzer’s shared sacred story project, bringing together nine of the world’s largest faith traditions to tell a deep story about human flourishing.

“I could not be more pleased to join the board of the Fetzer Institute,” said Dr. Sun. “The Institute’s work shines because of its profound commitment to not only understanding human flourishing but also caring about how to make it so. Our world is facing many challenges today, and the Fetzer community has the profound vision to engage with our diverse religious and spiritual heritages as a human family as we embrace challenges and change. The mission of Fetzer, ‘helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world,’ is a deeply embedded commitment in the Institute’s being. I look forward to contributing to this groundbreaking work.”

“We are honored and pleased that Anna will join the Institute’s board,” said Bob Boisture, Fetzer Institute CEO and president. “She is an exceptionally talented and grounded scholar and leader who shares our belief that spirituality is the foundation for a loving world. Without a doubt, she will play an essential role in our future.”