Kristin Helweg Hanson

Adjunct Professor
Eastern and Western Philosophy and Religion, Alaska Native Studies, Women in Religion

ADM 255
Phone: 907.786.4438

Ph.D Emory University, 2002
M.A. Alaska Pacific University, 1994 (with honors)
Ed.M. Boston University, 1990 (with honors)
B.S. University of Vermont, 1973 (summa cum laude)

Dr. Hanson (r) with co-author Sheila (Tusaagvik) Randazzo

Kristin Helweg Hanson (pictured with co-author Sheila Tusaagvik Randazzo) has a strong interdisciplinary background. Her key credentials for UAA are a Certificate of Women's Studies and a Ph.D. in religion, both from Emory University. Hanson is intrigued by "lived religion" or the study of how "religious" systems find expression and change within particular lives, times, and places.  In her early research, Hanson used feminist ethnography to probe "lived" phenomena such as how Iñupiaq cultural understandings potentially transform Protestant practices and theology. Currently, her research and writing center on intersecting spiritual and value-laden frameworks, with continuing interest in Iñupiaq constructs in dialogue with Christianity, as well as emergent attention to resonances between classical Confucianism and Traditional Iñupiaq commitments. Increasingly, Hanson is intrigued by the constructions of self in the different world philosophies and how constructions of self shape perceptions of "moral" and "community." Dr. Hanson also retains her early interests in: women as both narrated and living within specific religious/moral frameworks;Christian missionary women to Alaska;and religious/moral frameworks and education.

As her students quickly learn, Kristin Helweg Hanson longs for widespread "religious fluency" (working knowledge of religious and philosophical systems that provide ethical frameworks and articulate cosmological visions in their respective societies). She believes "religious fluency" entails serious engagement with multiple non-Western philosophies, as well as Western religious systems. She hopes this engagement engenders commitments to fair and respectful discourse about these systems. 

In harmony with UAA's Inter-cultural and International Learning Outcomes, Dr. Hanson encourages students to explore the contextual nature of religions. Kristin Helweg Hanson helps students acquire both the information and analytical skills needed to be knowledgeable contributors in their future local and global environments. Teaching is one of Dr. Hanson's great passions, and her favorite forum is the undergraduate classroom.

Additional notes for students

Kristin Helweg Hanson approaches the study of religions and "religion-like" philosophies as an implicitly rich, interdisciplinary conversation. Annually, Dr. Hanson teaches PHIL 313 Eastern Philosophies and Religion, and PHIL 314 Western Religions. Though basic facts and beliefs within the system are major foci of these courses, these courses also incorporate diverse insights from anthropology, history, sociology, psychology, Native studies, neurobiology, Women's Studies, and philosophy. Students are encouraged to use their term project or term paper as an opportunity to explore a religion (or "religion-like" philosophy) through their particular disciplinary lens or personal interest.

Students interested in expanding their explorations beyond the semester's classroom find a ready mentor in Kristin Helweg Hanson. Two students accompanied Hanson to China (2013) for the International Forum on Cross-Cultural Communication. Dr. Hanson also recruited a Chinese graduate student to come to Alaska and assist with course development in summer of 2012. This Chinese student returned to Anchorage to speak at the "Living Ethically in the Global World" conference in spring 2014 and enjoyed reconnecting with seminar students (from Hanson's PHIL 492 class: Enduring Philosopher: Kongzi). In other realms of enhancement, Alaska Native students have assisted with research and were co-speakers with Dr. Hanson at a UAA Bookstore Forum on resonance between Alaska Native (Yup'ik, Inupiaq) culture and classical Confucianism. Students from PHIL 313 and PHIL 314 have frequently presented at the UAA Undergraduate Conference and a few have presented at the UAA Student Showcase. Kristin Helweg Hanson has given guidance on senior theses as well as advice for grant research projects. Additionally, she serves as faculty advisor for the Wellness and Meditation Club that was formed by students from PHIL 313 classes. If you are interested in more information about, or doing any research in, any area related to religions or "religion-like" philosophies (i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism) feel free to contact Dr. Hanson.


Survival Then, Survival Now: Alaska Native Games and Urban Youth


Resonating Wisdoms: Early Confucian Dialogue with Yup'ik and Inupiaq Cultures

UAA students speaking about the resonance between early Confucianism and Yup'ik and Inupiaq cultures.

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Download MP3: Resonating Wisdoms: Early Confucian Dialogue with Yup'ik and Inupiaq Cultures


Research and Publications

2015. Alaska Native (Iñupiaq) Translations and Transformations of Protestant Beliefs and Practices: A Case Study of How Religions Interact. Lewiston, NY and Lampeter, UK: The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd..

2014. Co-Editor. "Living Ethically in the Global World" UAA Ethics Center Convocation and Ninth Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Proceedings. Published August 2014.

2012. "Survival Then, Survival Now." Co-author with Sheila (Tusaagvik) Seetomona Randazzo in International Journal of Sport and Society. Vol 2 (4): 83-93.

2011. Associate Editor, International Journal of Sport and Society.

2009. "Not the Words: Hymnody, Enacted Theology, and the Lutheran Iñupiat" in Dialog: A Journal of Theology. Vol 48 (4):  348-357.

2006. "Looking In, Looking Out: A Christian Historical Perspective" in Rukhsana Zia (ed), Globalization, Modernization and Education in Muslim Countries. In Bryan T. Peck (series editor) Education: Emerging Goals in the New Millennium. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.: 85-97.

2005. "Wordless Word (or) Go 'Home' and Stay 'Home': Quandaries when Conveying Content and Significance of Iñupiaq Transformation of Protestant Beliefs and Practices." In Robert O. van Everdingen (comp) Proceedings: 14t Inuit Studies Conference. Calgary: The Arctic Institute of North America: 65-76.

2002 "Resilient Thesis, Wordless Synthesis: Women's Perceptions of Iñupiaq Expression and Transformation of Protestant Belief and Practice". Doctoral Dissertation – Emory University.

2000-2001 Dissertation Field Research: "Resilient Thesis, Wordless Synthesis: Women's Perceptions of Iñupiaq Expression and Transformation of Protestant Belief and Practice" (Anchorage, Shishmaref, Nome, and Wales, Alaska).

1994 "Theological Differences in the Pedagogies of Martin Luther and John Calvin." M.A. Thesis –Alaska Pacific University (unpublished).

1990-91 Field Researcher for Sandberg dissertation on "Dialectical Thinking in the University Classroom" (Anchorage).

1989 "Faith Development Theory and Adult Learners." Ed.M. Project – Boston University/Alaska Pacific University (unpublished).

1985 "Corporate Cult: A Christian Views the Managerial Emphasis on Corporate Culture," Crux 21 (1): 7-9.

1974 "Independent Study: A Student's View," Nursing Outlook 22 (5): 329-330.

PHIL A492 has a reunion at the 2014 Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Keynote Address
PHIL A492 has a reunion at the 2014 Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Keynote Address

Fellowships and Grants

Office of the Provost, University of Alaska Anchorage, Grant 2013
Alaska International Education Foundation, Inc., Grant 2013
The Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life (Boston College) – "Lived Religion in America" Sponsored Workshop Participant, June 2002
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Educational Grant 2001-2002.
Fellow, Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University, 1997 - 2001.
Scholar, “Cairo - City of Islam,” American Research Center in Egypt in cooperation with Duke University. Funding through United States Information Agency, Foreign Language and Area Studies - U.S. Students and Scholars Program, 1999.

Front cover, 2015 publication
Front cover, 2015 publication

Selected Presentations

"Confucianism" in collaboration with UAA Confucius Institute.(Anchorage, AK) February 27, 2014.

"Resonating Wisdoms: Early Confucianism in Dialogue with Yup'ik and Iñupiaq Cultures." UAA Ethics Center Inaugural Speaker Series. (Anchorage, AK) January 30, 2014.

"Teaching Chinese Thought to Non-Chinese Students: Experiences from Alaska." International Forum on Cross-Cultural Communication and Teaching Chinese Culture. Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beijing, China). July 15, 2013.

"Survival Then, Survival Now." YouTube Presentation as requested alternative presentation after cancellation of international Sport and Society conference in India. Uploaded by CG Publishing on March 18, 2011. (Retrieve from YouTube with: Alaska Native Games and Urban Youth).

"Colliding Identities". Interdisciplinary Conference sponsored by Society for Indian Philosophy &Religion and University of Alaska, (Anchorage, AK). June 13, 2008.

"The Muhammad Cartoons: Free Speech or Derision?" Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Anchorage, AK) April 2, 2006.

"The Tergiversating Nature of 'Ordinary Religion' and Its Confounding Effects on Education and Government."Oxford Roundtable. (Oriel College, Oxford, UK) August 2005.

"The Essential Triad: Effective Tools for Facilitating Western Appreciation of Hindu and Buddhist Thought." Lutheran Women in Theological and Religious Studies (Pre-session of American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting) (San Antonio, TX) November 2004.

"Alverson's Cube and the Discussion of Religion and Politics." Panelist. University of Alaska Anchorage Forum (Anchorage, AK) November 2004.

"Wordless Word or 'Go Home and Stay Home.'" Inuit Studies Conference. (Calgary, Alberta/Canada), August 2004.

"Islam and the Islamic World." Perspectives: Inside/Outside Speaker Series –Haines Borough Public Library. (Haines, AK), April 2004.

"Ethnography and Liturgical Theology in the Exploration of 'Lived Religion.'" Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) Annual Meeting, November 2002.

"A Good Place for a Learning Journey." Alaska Pacific University (APU) Convocation. (Anchorage, AK) October 2002.

"The Market Paradigm's Role in the Erosion of Lutheran Diversity: a Cautionary Tale from the Seward Peninsula Lutheran Ministries of Alaska." Lutheran Women in Theological Studies, (Pre-session of American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting) (Denver, CO) 2001.

Author's book photo
Author's book photo

University Committees and Service

Moderator. "The Quest for Meaning: How is Faith Relevant in Education?"Veritas Forum.University of Alaska Anchorage. (Anchorage) February 19, 2015.

Speaker. "Red Sorghum and Magic Realism." UAA Bookstore Forum.February 12, 2015.

Planning Committee. Bookstore series on Chinese Literature and Media. (Collaborative project between UAA Bookstore and UAA Confucius Institute). Fall, 2014.

Co-Organizer. "Living Ethically in the Global World": UAA Ethics Center Convocation and Ninth Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. University of Alaska Anchorage, March 27-29, 2014.

"Confucianism and the Self." OLE! (Opportunities for Lifelong Education!) Lecture. March 1, 2013. UAA

Ford Foundation – Difficult Dialogs - "Religion in the Classroom." CAFÉ presenter, November 9, 2012. UAA

Guest participant and lecturer for NURS 439 –Spirituality in Nursing, Spring Semester 2010. UAA

"Christianity, Islam and Female Paths to Alternate Power." UAA Bookstore Forum, March 30, 2010.

Ford Foundation – Difficult Dialogs - "Religion in the Classroom". CAFÉ Panelist, March 20, 2009. UAA

"Immortality, Physicalism, and Death of God", Interdisciplinary Conference sponsored by Society of Indian Philosophy & Religion and University of Alaska, Anchorage, Co-coordinator, June 13-14, 2008. UAA

"Engaging Muslims: Religion, Cultures, Politics". Moderator (Multiple forums with internationally-recognized scholars.) Sponsored by Alaska Pacific University Carr's Grant and held in Wendy Williamson Auditorium, UAA. 2007- 2008.

Confucius Institute/ International Studies Planning Committee. 2006 –2007. UAA

Ford Foundation – Difficult Dialogs - "Encountering Controversy", 2007.UAA

Panelist/ presenter for faculty cohort training. "Techniques for successful classroom discussion and engagement of controversy." May 10, 2007

Ford Foundation – Difficult Dialogs - "Encountering Controversy", 2006. UAA
Curriculum Committee, Spring 2006.
Presenter for the faculty cohorts' training 2006:
"Religion in the Classroom" May 18, May 25; "Faith Development Theory" May 25

University of Alaska, Anchorage Philosophy Club Presenter and Facilitator, Spring 2004 - 2007

Panelist. "Alverson's Cube and the Discussion of Religion and Politics." UAA Bookstore Forum, November 2004.

Native Heritage Celebration Planning Committee, Emory University, 1998 –2000.

Certificate Representative to Women's Studies Graduate Committee, Emory University, 1998-1999.

Responding to a student paper, UAA Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
Responding to a student paper, UAA Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Community Service 

Alaska Native Lutheran Church, Pianist (Anchorage, Alaska) 2000 to Present.

Guest Lecturer.  Perspectives.  “Church History.” (Anchorage, Alaska) February 17, 2015.

Post-performance Panelist for the Cyrano’s Production of “Freud’s Last Session.” (Anchorage) January 13, 2013.

Radio guest. With Dr. Greg Kimura and Teeka B on Hometown-Alaska, KSKA, (Anchorage) October 13, 2010.

Published Interview. “On Campus: Teachers, Students See Philosophical Inquiry Fading” in Catholic Star Herald Supplement on Higher Education. October 23, 2009.

Television Guest. Topic: Faith/Religion and the Economic Downturn. With Grace Chang, KTVA (Anchorage) Fall 2009.

Lutheran Association for Missionary Pilots (LAMP) Vacation Bible School Volunteer Teacher:
(Cape Prince of Wales, AK- 2001; Teller, AK – 2003 to 2005, Deering, AK– 2008.)

Alaska Native Lutheran Church Parish Nurse Program. (Anchorage) Fall 2007.

Alaska Health Fair Volunteer Nurse – health screening for oil field employees and wellness presentations for village elementary school children. (Various North Slope Locations) 2003 – 2006.

Exploring further at "Living Ethically in the Global World" conference
Exploring further at "Living Ethically in the Global World" conference
Other Activities of Educational Interest

Participant. “Study Abroad – Turkiye Anatolia:  Past to Present.  Cross-cultural study project for Faculty and PhD Students”. Sponsored by Pacifica institute.  June 2015.  

Participant. International Forum on Cross-Cultural Communication and Teaching Chinese Culture. Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beijing, China)  July, 2013.

Participant in 2011 Confucian Studies Summer Institute (Nishan Birthplace of the Sage Academy, Shandong Province, China) July 2011.

Special Assistant to the Cardinal Newman Chair, Alaska Pacific University (Anchorage) Spring Semester 2006.