Philosophy and Religion Department
School of Consciousness and Transformation
PhD, California Institute of Integral Studies
MA, George Washington University; MA, Holy Names University
Karen Nelson Villanueva, Ph.D. is Adjunct Faculty at Holy Names University in their Humanities and Religious Studies programs, and also at the California Institute of Integral Studies in the Women's Spirituality program. As a Tibetan (Vajrayana) Buddhist practitioner in the Gelug tradition, she leads Buddhist ritual and meditation at the Tse Chen Ling Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies. She is also a certified teacher in Cultivating Emotional Balance training. She was raised in Detroit and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan before serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica.
She earned a Master of Public Administration degree from George Washington University and then worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Karen returned to school to complete a Master of Arts degree in Culture & Spirituality from the Sophia program at Holy Names University and successfully defended a doctorate in Philosophy & Religion with an emphasis in Women's Spirituality from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Her dissertation, "Invoking the Blessings of the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Tara Through Chanting Her Mantra to Overcome Fear," explores the effects of chanting mantra with contemporary Western practitioners at an urban Buddhist meditation center with the goal of overcoming a specific fear. She has written articles, essays, and encyclopedic entries on "Mother Love in Buddhism," "Buddhism and Mothering," and "White Tara Meditation." Her experience includes workshops on "Chanting Mantra: A Tool to Protect the Mind" and paper presentations at the American Academy of Religion National Meeting, the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, and the Western Association of Women Historians. As an avid traveler, she has gone on pilgrimage to the Buddhist sites in India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Karen now lives with her family and teaches, tutors writing, and composes an upcoming blog at TaraMantras.com.