Faculty Directory

J. D. Bowers

Associate Vice Provost, University Honors and Associate Professor of History

Fields of Study: Religion, genocide and human rights, United States and the World, colonial empires, comparative and transnational history. 

E-mail: jbowersi@niu.edu
Phone: 815-753-9399
Office: Campus Life Building 110

Education: Ph.D. Indiana University, 2003

Current Research: I am working on a project that explores the impact of American religion and the development of human rights ideals in the Untied States as each was transformed by their confluence within the political and social arenas during the ages of the American industrial revolution, imperialism, and World War I.  I argue that the three major strains of American religious denominations -- liberal, conservative, and mainstream -- were forced to make significant accommodations and alterations to their theology and practice as they were, wittingly and unwittingly, cast into the public sphere in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but this intercourse of religion with the larger national agenda simultaneously built the foundations for the nation's human rights policies of later decades.  I am also working on a project that focuses on the "Cyprus Question" and the divisions between the Turkish and Greek Communities as well as several smaller projects that center on human rights violations, genocide, and instruction.

Major/Recent Publications:

  • Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America (Penn State University Press, May 2007)
  • Teaching Nineteenth-Century American Religion in a Global Context,” in Gary Reichard and Ted Dickson, eds., American on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History (University of Illinois Press, 2008).
  • Hawaii,” in Benjamin F. Shearer, ed., The Uniting States: The Story of Statehood for the Fifty United States of America, vol. 1, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), 295-324

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Teaching Interests: The intersections of religion, violence, human rights violations, and public commemoration in American and Global society.

Select Courses Taught:

  • HIST 260 United States History to 1865
  • HIST 261 United States History since 1865
  • HIST 364 History of American Religion to 1865
  • HIST 365 History of American Religion since 1865
  • HIST 387 History of Genocide
  • HIST 388 History of the Pacific Islands since 1600
  • HIST 496 Secondary Social Studies Teaching Methods, Grades 6-12
  • HIST 498R Graduate Readings in Pacific Island History since 1600
  • HIST 498T Graduate Readings in Genocide and Human Rights
  • HIST 510 Graduate Readings in U.S. Religious History and Culture
  • HIST 680 Graduate Readings in Genocide Studies 

Select Professional Service

Director, Genocide and Human Rights Institute and editor of E-wareness!  

Editorial Board, Pennsylvania History (2008-2011)

Co-editor, Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography  (with Peter Hughes)



  • Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society, Zeta Gamma Chapter
  • Fulbright Fellowship, Norway, 2005-06
  • Susan O'Kell Outstanding Teaching Award, History Department, Indiana University, 1997
  • Outstanding Teacher-Scholar Fellowship, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, 1997

Interdisciplinary Affiliations:

  • Committee for Initial Teacher Certification
  • Genocide and Human Rights Institute
  • Global Studies and Religious Studies Faculty Interest Groups
  • Cyprus Study Abroad Program