Jane Compson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor ; Graduate Faculty

Specialty: Philosophy of Religion, Theravada Buddhism, Medical, Animal and Environmental Ethics

Compson, Jane

Contact information

Dept: Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Room: GWP 329
Phone: 253-692-4407
Email: jcompson@uw.edu


  • Ph.D., Comparative Religion, University of Bristol, UK, 1998.
  • M.A., Philosophy (Bioethics), Colorado State University, 2004.
  • M.A., Religion in the Contemporary World, University of Bristol, UK, 1994.
  • B.A., English Literature, University of Exeter, UK, 1992.


A broad-brush account of my research agenda is that I seek to apply my training in religious studies to contemporary contexts. For example, many of my current research interests involve applying insights from Buddhist traditions  particularly Buddhist understandings of the mind and its relation to suffering  to contemporary contexts, such as higher education pedagogy, environmental education, and healthcare.

My teaching reflects my interests in applied ethics and 'engaged' religion. I currently teach classes in Comparative Religion; Environmental Ethics; Philosophy, Religion and the Environment; Biomedical Ethics, and Introduction to Ethics.


Right now I am working on two different projects.

  • The Compassion, Awareness, Responding and Enjoyment (CARE) project.

    It is obvious why it can be stressful to be a patient because one is sick or injured. However, patient caregivers are also subject to stress. It is a major cause of attrition in healthcare professionals in the US and worldwide. Various stress-reduction modalities have been shown to reduce stress and increase well-being, performance and job satisfaction. There are many different kinds of these modalities. Many of them require considerable time-commitment which may deter the very people who, because of their exhaustion or overwork, may benefit from them most.

    With a team I'm working on an intervention that is relatively brief and which provides a portal into self-care and stress-reduction practices and research. It combines different approaches to stress-management and well-being, giving participants an opportunity to experiment with different techniques. It provides an accessible introduction to stress-reduction practices and offers preliminary steps towards self-care literacy. The intervention is called the CARE model and will focus on training related to Compassion, Awareness, Responding and Enjoyment.

  • Environmental Justice

    With a colleague in Nursing and Healthcare Leadership (Dr Evans-Agnew), I'm looking at the question of how we define environmental justice. We have involved students and community members in this project. We asked students to video members of the Tacoma community who work for environmental or civic organizations about how they understood Environmental Justice. One of my students was awarded the Chancellor's Undergraduate Research Award to help analyze these interviews. We will make them available to the public through UW Tacoma Library's Digital Commons. We are looking at how some definitions of environmental justice seem to only consider human needs; others take a broader view that includes the ecosystem. Does one make more sense than the other? And how do these different assumptions play out in practice?


  • TRELIG 321 Comparative Religion
  • TRELIG 350 Philosophy, Religion and the Environment
  • TPHIL 456 Environmental Ethics
  • TPHIL 544 Biomedical Ethics
  • TIAS 504 Values in Action
  • Previously Taught:

  • Animal Ethics
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Buddhist Thought
  • Ethical Theory
  • Ethical Issues in the 21st Century

Selected Publications

  • A Meeting of Minds in Cyberspace: Eco-contemplative Methods for Online Teaching, Simner-Brown, Judith and Grace, Fran eds. Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies. New York: SUNY, 2011, 203-207.
  • Seeing Outranks Believing: Some Buddhist Reflections on Faith and Belief in Modern Believing, 48:3 (2007): 50-59.
  • The Dalai Lama and the World Religions: A False Friend? Religious Studies, 32.2 (1996) 271-279.
  • Why Buddhism Makes Sense in Ian Markhams A World Religions Reader. Oxford, Blackwell, 1996.


  • Board Member, Altruism in Medicine Institute