Huston Cummings Smith is among the preeminent religious studies scholars in the United States. His work, The Religions of Man (later revised and retitled The World’s Religions), is a classic in the field, sold over two million copies, and is a particularly useful introduction to comparative religion.
Smith was born in Soochow, China to Methodist missionaries and spent his first 17 years there. He taught at the Universities of Colorado and Denver from 1944-1947, moving to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri for the next ten years, and then Professor of Philosophy at MIT from 1958-1973. While at MIT he participated in some of the experiments with entheogens then-Professor Timothy Leary conducted at Harvard University. He then moved to Syracuse University where he was Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy until his retirement in 1983 and current emeritus status. He now lives in the Berkeley, CA area where he is Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.