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.
Dr. Sun is a prolific writer and researcher. Her 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, 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.