Ellen Posman

Chair, Department of Religion
Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara

Ellen Posman

Ellen PosmanChair, Department of Religion
Professor

Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School
B.A., Stanford University

Contact: 

(440) 826-2176, eposman@bw.edu

Dr. Ellen Posman holds degrees in comparative religion from Stanford University, Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. She teaches a variety of classes on themes in comparative religion such as religion and violence, religion and the environment, religion and women, religion in America and religion and the afterlife, in addition to specialized classes in her specific areas of expertise, Asian religions and Judaism.

Posman also led a study-abroad trip to India during winter break 2007-2008 in which BW students investigated the ways religion intersects with poverty, globalization and development in India. She has received multiple grants to fund travel-oriented research. She lived in Tibetan Buddhist refugee communities in India and Nepal from 1999 to 2001, participated in a faculty peace delegation to Israel and Palestine in 2006, visited Turkey as part of an interfaith dialogue group in 2008, and spent time researching Buddhism and culture in Taiwan in 2004, Thailand in 2011 and Sri Lanka in 2015. She is featured as a scholarly expert on the issue of Theravada Buddhist nuns seeking full ordination in the documentary film Bhikkhuni: Buddhism, Sri Lanka, Revolution.

In addition to sociological research, her interests include textual research; she received a grant to participate in a 2013 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer seminar on classical Buddhist texts. Posman has published on religion and violence, religion and vegetarianism, religious exile and diaspora and religion in film. She has a passion for teaching and engages in the scholarship of teaching, including contributions to an anthology on pedagogies for civic engagement in religious studies. She also served as coeditor of the “Spotlight on Teaching” section of Religious Studies News, a publication of the American Academy of Religion.

EDUCATION:

Dissertation Title: "There's No Place Like Home: An Analysis of Exile in the Jewish and Tibetan Buddhist Traditions"

Doctoral Field Exams: 
Southeast Asian/East Asian Buddhism (Ninian Smart, Committee Chair)
Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (Alan Wallace)
History of Judaism (Richard Hecht)
Comparative Methodology (Barbara Holdrege)

Dissertation Committee: 
Richard Hecht (Committee Chair)
Barbara Holdrege
Vesna Wallace

Languages:
Reading Proficiency in French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan
Speaking Proficiency in Spanish, Hebrew, Tibetan 

TEACHING EXPERIENCE:

7/14-present
Professor. Religion Department, Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio.
Courses include (among others):

  • Introduction to Religion
  • Religion for the Citizen
  • Religions of India
  • Religions of China and Japan
  • Death and Dying in the World's Religions
  • Women and Religion
  • Religion and Violence
  • Religion and the Environment
  • American Religious Pluralism
  • Buddhist Culture in Asia
  • Buddhism in America
  • The Jewish Liturgical Year
  • Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
  • Religion, The Body, and Gender
  • Asian Religious Reformers
  • Cleveland’s Religious Communities

7/08-7/14
Associate Professor, Religion Department, Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, OH
(See above for courses taught)

8/02-7/08
Assistant Professor, Religion Department, Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, OH
(See above for courses taught)

1/02-6/02 
Teaching Associate. Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara
Course instructor for "Biblical Hebrew."

3/01-6/01
Teaching Associate. Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara
Course instructor for "Religious Traditions of India."

8/00-12/00
Adjunct Instructor. Antioch Buddhist Studies Program, Bodh Gaya, India
Course instructor for "Beginning Tibetan Language" and "Contemporary Buddhist Culture"
for a program run in Bodh Gaya, India through Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio

6/99-8/99
Teaching Associate. Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara
Course instructor for "Religion and Western Civilization:  The Ancient Period."

9/97-6/99
Teaching Assistant. Writing Program, University of California, Santa Barbara
Course instructor for Writing 2, the equivalent of Freshman Composition

3/96-6/97
Teaching Assistant. Religious Studies Department, University of  World's Religions,"
"Judaism, Christianity and Islam," "Religion and Western Civilization: The Modern Period,"
"Hindu Myth and Image," "South Asian Buddhism," and "The Bodhisattva Ideal"

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE:

9/15-2/16 Research Scholar. Conducted Ethnographic Research on The Issue of Full Ordination for Theravada Nuns in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

7/13 Research Scholar. Conducted Research on Buddhism and Gender and
Buddhism and Violence in Classical Buddhist Texts as part of an NEH
Seminar. Mangalam Research Center, Berkeley, CA.

7/11 Research Scholar. Conducted Research on Buddhism and Social,
Economic, and Environmental Rights in Thailand as part of a CIEE seminar.

8/07 Research Scholar. Conducted ethnographic research on Tibetan Buddhist nuns in South India.

5/06 Research Scholar. Conducted Research in Turkey as part of an Interfaith Dialogue Group sponsored by the WPCC (Western Pennsylvania Cultural Center).

6/05 Research Scholar. Conducted Research in Israel and Palestine as part of faculty delegation from FFIPP (Faculty for Israeili-Palestinian Peace).

7/04-8/04 Research Scholar. Conducted ethnographic research on Chinese Buddhist Culture and American Buddhist Culture in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

9/99-6/00 Research Scholar. Conducted textual and ethnographic research regarding the Tibetan Buddhist exile in Dharamsala, India.

2/97-6/97 Research Assistant. Research assistant for Dr. Randall Garr, Professor of Semitic languages and Near Eastern cultures, University of California, Santa Barbara. Research tasks included compiling a bibliography of Rabbinic literature with an emphasis on the Mishnah and Mishnaic Hebrew.

1/96-8/96 Research Assistant. Congregations and Generational Cultures Project, University of California, Santa Barbara in conjunction with Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Conducted ethnographic research on two congregations in Los Angeles while devoting particular attention to generational issues.

6/94-11/94 Research Assistant. Pluralism Project, Harvard University. Documented the religious landscapes of Washington D.C. and Minneapolis Minnesota, and conducted in-depth ethnographic research on the Tibetan Buddhist community of New York City.

PUBLICATIONS/PAPERS PRESENTED:

Special Issue on “Religious Communities in Exile and Diaspora” for the Journal Religions. Guest Editor. Published by MDPI. Expected 2021.

“Traditional and Modern Social Action and its role in the legitimation of the Bhikkhuni order” Conference Paper Presented at the International Buddhist Bhikkhuni Forum, University of Toronto. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. May 2018.

“Educating Theravada Laity About Bhikkhunis: Innovative and Diverse Methods.”
Conference paper presented at the Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women. Hong Kong University, Hong Kong. June 2017. Published in Contemporary Buddhist Women: Contemplation, Social Change, and Social Action, Karma Lekshe Tsomo, ed. Sakyadhita Press. 2017.

“Sanghamitta as a Symbol for women on both sides of the Theravada Ordination Issue.” Conference Paper presented at the National Meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
San Antonio, TX. November 2016.

“Thoughts on Hail Caesar!” Panelist at a Screening of Hail Caesar at the National Meeting of the
American Academy of Religion, San Antonio, TX. November 2016.

“Home and Away: Exile and Diaspora as Religious Concepts” in Intersections of Religion and Migration: Issues at the Global Crossroads, Jennifer B. Saunders, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, and Susanna Snyder, eds. Palgrave MacMillan. 2016.

“Reading Religion as Community in The Hudsucker Proxy” in Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order, Elijah Siegler ed. Baylor University Press. 2016.

“Sacred Sites and Staging Grounds: The Four Guiding Objectives of Civic Engagement in the Religion Classroom” with Reid B. Locklin in Teaching Civic Engagement, Forrest Clingerman and Reid B. Locklin, eds. AAR Teaching Religious Studies Series, Oxford University Press. 2016.

“Discourse, Democracy, and the Many Faces of Civic Engagement: Four Guiding Objectives for the University Classroom” (second author after Reid B. Locklin) in Teaching Civic Engagement, Forrest Clingerman and Reid B. Locklin, eds. AAR Teaching Religious Studies Series, Oxford University Press. 2016.

“Using Pew Forum Data in the Classroom”
Panelist at a Roundtable and the National Conference of the AAR. Baltimore, MD. November 2013.

“Team Teaching in Religious Studies” in Spotlight on Teaching in Religious Studies.
On-Line Publication of the American Academy of Religion. October 2013.

“Translating Religion Courses to an Online Format” in Spotlight on Teaching in Religious Studies.
On-Line Publication of the American Academy of Religion. May 2013.

“Intercultural and Transnational Pedagogy” in Spotlight on Teaching in Religious Studies.
On-Line Publication of the American Academy of Religion. October 2011.

“Teaching Religion and Ecology” in Spotlight on Teaching in Religious Studies.
On-Line Publication of the American Academy of Religion. May 2011.

"History, Humiliation, and Religious Violence" in The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence, Andrew R. Murphy, ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. April 2011.

“Teaching for Civic Engagement” in Spotlight on Teaching in Religious Studies.
On-Line Publication of the American Academy of Religion. October 2010.

"Book Review: Women in Tibet." Book Review in the Journal of The American Academy of Religion. Published in the Spring issue, 2007

"Veggieburger in Paradise: Food as World-Transforming in Contemporary American Buddhism and Judaism." Chapter in Eating in Eden: Food and American Utopias. Etta M. Madden and Martha L. Finch eds. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2006

"Building Bridges: Including Asian Religions in the Discussion of religious Violence"  Paper presented at the Midwest Regional Conference of the AAR, 2006

"A Time to Mourn": An Analysis of Jewish and Hindu Rituals Related to Death and Mourning." Paper presented at the National Conference of the AAR, 2005

"Let's Get Together: Post-exilic Reconstructions of Sacred Community In Judaism and Tibetan Buddhism." Article in Epoche: Journal of the Study of Religion at UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA, 2005

"Prospects for Full Ordination of the Tibetan Ani" Paper presented at the Revisioning Buddhism Conference, McGill  University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2005

"Outside Looking In: Exilic vs. Diasporic Representations of the Homeland." Paper presented at the National Conference of the AAR, 2001

Associate EditorRealizing Emptiness: Madhyamaka Insight Meditation by Gen Lamrimpa, B. Alan Wallace translator. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Press, 1999

"Exiles in America: A study of the Tibetan U.S. Resettlement Project."  Paper presented at the Western Consultation of the AAR, 1997