• Professor Emeritus of History and Herring Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies
  • 864.294.2182
  • Furman Hall 200
  • jim.leavell@furman.edu

Dr. Leavell grew up in West Texas. Following a year teaching English and History at Hong Kong Baptist College, he travelled around the world. During his master's work at Baylor he was assistant to the editor of A Journal of Church and State. Upon completion of his MA, he taught American and European history at Hardin-Simmons University. Subsequently, he served on the faculty of a Japanese university for three years and as a Fulbright exchange teacher in Japan for two additional years. Prior to joining the Furman faculty in 1974, Dr. Leavell was Director of Academic and Field Studies for Seinan Gakuin University's foreign exchange program.

While at Furman, he has taught for various study away programs in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. His courses have included Chinese History, Arts of East Asia, European Medieval History, Western Civilization, History of Japanese Religion, and Cultural History of Japan.

His professional service has included chair of the Asian Studies Department, director of the South Carolina Center for Teaching about Asia (SCCTA), president of the Southeast Regional Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, associate editor of the Southeast Review of Asian Studies, and chairman of the board for ASIANetwork. Dr. Leavell has studied religious pilgrimage throughout the world and served as a frequent lecturer for the Princess Cruise Lines.

Name Title Description


Arts of Japan

Survey of Japanese art history from archaeology through 20th century with emphasis on the evolution of style in the context of religious, social and political change.


Teaching About Asia

The purpose of this course is to work with SC teachers to enhance instruction on Asia throughout the curriculum, especially in world history, social studies, and geography courses. Themes covered include geographical determinants shaping the culture, history, and economic development of East Asia; the nature of East Asian society, politics, and culture; interaction among East Asian societies; and East Asian history in the context of world history.


Ancient and Early Japan

Survey of Japan from its prehistoric origins to the early 17th century. Topics include: archaeology and history, origins of Japan


Modern Japan

Survey of Japan from the 16th century to the present. Topics include: Tokugawa societies and cultures, economic systems, Imperial Japan and world wars, global interactions, modernity and modernization, and contemporary Japanese issue.

  • Alester G. and Janie Earle Furman Award for Meritorious Teaching (1996).
  • Association of Furman Students' Faculty Member of the Year (1989).
  • Association of Furman Studies' Outstanding Teacher of the Year (1978).
University of Virginia
University of Virginia
University of Virginia
(SUNY) Empire State College


  • "Walking through a Mountain Mandala: A Pilgrim's Diary," Southeast Review of Asian Studies 10 (1988): 58-71.
  • "The Policing of Society," in Japan in Transition: Thought and Action in the Meiji Era, 1868-1912, edited by Hilary Conroy, Sandra Davis, and Wayne Patterson, 22-49 (London: Associated University Press, 1984).
  • "Zen Illustrated," SASASAAS Review (Spring 1978).
  • "Who's Who among Buddhas and Bodhisattvas," SASASAAS Review (Fall 1977).


Duke University
Baylor University

Baylor University

Connect with Admission

Furman is one of the nation's premier liberal arts and sciences universities. We offer our students The Furman Advantage—an over-arching approach to education that promises every student a four-year personalized pathway, a team of advisors and mentors, and the opportunity for an engaged learning experience that is tracked and integrated with the students' academic and professional goals.

Want more information about the admission process at Furman?

Contact us

Once you see our campus, making the right college decision will be so much easier.

Plan a visit

Undergraduate Evening Studies provides adults the opportunity to receive an education from one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation.

Whether you are starting or continuing your education, or have been away from the classroom for a few months or several years, our program provides many services to assist you with accomplishing your educational and professional goals.

Apply now

Our graduate studies program is designed for the professional educator.

We know the challenges teachers and administrators face every day, and we are committed to helping you become a leader within your school system or district.

Apply now
  • Furman University