Courtney Applewhite (she/her)

Religions in North America; Death Rituals and Afterlife Beliefs; Nonreligious and Secular People; Ecology and Religion
Curriculum Vitae:


As a doctoral candidate, I am implementing my research agenda for my dissertation project: an examination of the emergence of the “eco-funeral” in the contemporary United States. Drawing from work in death studies and religious studies and theories adjacent to feminist studies, environmental studies, and secular studies along with ethnographic field work, I aim to learn more about the availability and access to these emerging forms of death ritual.

This work continues my investigation of death rituals and beliefs that are adjacent to the mainstream. My master’s thesis, entitled “Institutionalized Individuality: Death Practices and Afterlife Beliefs in Unity Church, Unitarian Universalism, and Spiritualism in Santa Barbara,” examined the way in which the notions of “individuality” and “personal” interpretations of death and afterlife are shaped in liberal religious institutions.

Concurrently, I am working as a research assistant on a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation and led by Professors Merril Silverstein and Joseph Blankholm. Our project, The Meaning of Religion, aims to use longitudinal data to examine the inter-generational transmission of values and beliefs (or non-beliefs) using qualitative and quantitative methods.