Derek Shepard

Southeast Asia and Himalaya Instructor

B.A. Political Science, Washington State University.

M. Div. Buddhism, Harvard University

A lifelong rural Alaskan, Derek grew up in the cold Arctic Circle where he fostered a love for the outdoors, exploring the vast tundra by dog sled and building igloos with his twin brother. Trading in his mukluks for a pair of sandals, Derek joined the Peace Corps in Thailand where he worked on the Teacher Collaboration and Community Outreach Project, building the capacity of teachers and government officials in the education and health sectors.

Following his service in Thailand, Derek attended Harvard University where he focused his studies on socially engaged Buddhism and Buddhist monastic practices, temporarily ordaining as a Theravada monk for one summer in Thailand. As a graduate student Derek also worked for two years as a Research Associate at the Pluralism Project, developing country profiles on religious pluralism to be citied and used by professors and educators – both at Harvard and more broadly.

Most recently, Derek has served as a Course Director and field instructor for Where There Be Dragons, where he has instructed courses since 2006. In each of these experiences Derek has combined an interest in big-picture program design with direct collaboration and mentorship to support community-based and individual development. He is eager to continue work in creating educational opportunities and transformational experiences for Dragons students, and sharing his love of life and travel with others.