Faculty Profiles

faculty photo brian howell sociology anthropology

Brian Howell, Ph.D.

Professor of Anthropology, Department Chair

On Faculty since 2001


Brian Howell attended Wesleyan University (CT), studying in an interdisciplinary program of government, history, economics, and social theory (The College of Social Studies.)  After graduating with High Honors (1991) awarded on the strength of his senior thesis on missions in the Philippines, entitled “Vernacular Christians Missions and the Protection of Minority Cultures,” Howell spent two years teaching in Los Angeles county with the Teach for America program.  He then went to Fuller Theological Seminary for an MA in Cross-Cultural Studies, before attending Washington University in St. Louis for his MA/PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology.

Today, Howell is an anthropologist of religion who writes and researches global Christianity, short term missions, and the intersection of theology and anthropology.  In his teaching, Dr. Howell likes to explore the connections of anthropology and popular culture, tourism and travel, performance, and theater. Dr. Howell and his wife, Marissa Sabio, have three children, and currently reside in Wheaton. Some of Dr. Howell's hobbies include scuba diving, playing volleyball, and music.

Washington University in St. Louis
Ph.D., Sociocultural Anthropology 2002

Washington University in St. Louis
M.A., Sociocultural Anthropology 1997

Fuller Theological Seminary
M.A., Cross-Cultural Studies, Concentration: Anthropology 1995

Wesleyan University
B.A., The College of Social Studies (CSS) 1991

  • American Anthropological Society (AAA): member
  • American Ethnological Society: member
  • Society for the Anthropology of Religion: member
  • Society of Urban and Transnational Anthropology: member

Martyrs in the Time of the Charity Selfie
The Wall Street Journal

Such health risks, though still considerable, have lessened, thanks to improved medical care and the ability to evacuate if trouble arises. According to Wheaton College's Brian Howell, more and more of today's cross-cultural workers, as missionaries are also called these days, are short-term technical specialists. They can be deployed quickly to international hot spots and, with luck, just as quickly removed...read more

  • Filipino Protestantism
  • Global Christianity
  • Globalization
  • Short-term Missions

Whence and Whither: the Anthropology of Christianity
CURA: Institute for Culture, Religion and World Affairs: Boston, MA

Short Term Mission in the Church Today
Broom Missions Colloquium: Abilene Christian University: Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker
Midwest Classics of Christian Reformed Church: Palos Heights, IL

The Importance of Anthropology for Missiology: The case of Short Term Missions
American Missiological Society: St. Paul, MN

Dr. Howell's research interests are in the intersections of culture, globalization and Christianity. I consider myself broadly to be an anthropologist of religion, but my publications have largely been aimed specifically at Christianity as a global/transnational phenomenon, drawing in history, popular culture, congregational studies, and narrative analysis. Since finishing my dissertation at Washington University in St. Louis in 2002, I have published on Philippine Baptists, U.S. Evangelicals, and Short-Term Missions. I am also interested in research on the teaching and pedagogy of anthropology and social engagement.

  • Introduction to Anthropology
  • Anthropology through Film
  • Globalization
  • Culture Theory
  • Culture, Travel, and Tourism
  • Power and Gender in Southeast Asia