Michele M. Dillon

Senior Faculty Fellow Chair, Pathway to Professorship
Co-Chair, UNH Writing Academy
Chair, New Faculty Orientation
Senior Scholarly Coach, Research and Engagement Academy and Writing Academy
Professor, Department of Sociology
UNH Class of 1944 Professor
Senior Advisor for Research, Carsey School of Public Policy


Michele Dillon, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and the UNH Class of 1944 Professor, serves as a  Senior Faculty Fellow in the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Academic Outreach, and as Senior Advisor for Research at the Carsey School of Public Policy. In her roles at the OSVPEO, she provides leadership for faculty development and direction. She is co-chair of the faculty summer Writing Academy, chair of Pathway to Professorship, and chair of New Faculty Orientation. She also works with the senior faculty serving as scholarly coaches for faculty scholars participating in the  Writing Academy and the Research and Engagement Academy. Dr. Dillon received her Bachelor's degree in social science and her Master's degree in sociology from University College Dublin, and her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She specializes in religion and culture, with particular interests in autonomy and authority in the Catholic Church; religion, spirituality and cultural change; community engagement; life-course contexts and transitions; purposeful aging; and the moral politics surrounding abortion and same-sex relationships. Dillon also conducts evaluation and policy research with an emphasis on community leadership and rural economic development. She uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Her research has been funded by the Templeton Foundation, the Louisville Institute, the Fetzer Institute, the Kellogg Foundation, and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, among other entities.

Dillon's scholarly publications include Postsecular Catholicism (Oxford University Press, 2018), American Catholics in Transition (co-authors W. D'Antonio & M. Gautier; Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), In the Course of a Lifetime: Tracing Religious BeliefPractice and Change (co-author Paul Wink; University of California Press, 2007; selected by Choice as an outstanding book in 2007), Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason, Faith, and Power (Cambridge University Press, 1999), Debating Divorce: Moral Conflict in Ireland (University Press of Kentucky, 1993), Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (editor, Cambridge University Press, 2003), Introduction to Sociological Theory (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, 2nd edition), and over 50 book chapters, essays, and research articles in journals such as Sociological TheoryJournal for the Scientific Study of ReligionSociology of ReligionPublic Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Adult DevelopmentPsychology and Aging, and Research on Aging. Dr. Dillon has served as Chair of the UNH Sociology department (2009-2015); and as president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, chair of the American Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Section, president of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, and executive secretary of the Eastern Sociological Society. She was honored in 2011 as the 11th Annual Anne Drummey O'Callaghan Lecturer on Women in the Church, at Fairfield University; and in 2011-12 as the JE and Lillian Byrne Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Scholarly Agenda

  • Assessing contemporary Catholicism in light of the postsecular turn, and exploring how the mutual pull of secular and religious expectations inform the relevance of a public Catholicism.   
  • Using national survey data gathered between 1987 and 2017 to investigate  cross-sectional trends and generational and historical-period effects in American Catholics’ commitment to the Church amid broad societal changes and institutional and demographic changes in Catholicism.

External Partners

Dr. Dillon is frequently called on by national and international media to offer insights regarding current religous and political events, and publishes research essays and commentary in news outlets such as the National Catholic Reporter.  Example: What do we know about how Catholics inform their consciences

Return to Research and Engagement Academy Scholarly Coaches

Michele Dillon photo