Ellen Posman

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

Ellen Posman

Ellen PosmanChair, Religion Department
Associate Professor

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


(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.

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.


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

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


Associate Professor. Religion Department, Baldwin Wallace College, Berea, Ohio.
Courses include (among others):

  • Introduction to Religion
  • Religions of India
  • Religions of China and Japan
  • Death and Dying in the World's Religions
  • Women and Religion
  • Religion and Violence
  • American Religious Pluralism
  • Buddhist Culture in Asia
  • Buddhism in America
  • The Jewish Liturgical Year
  • Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

Assistant Professor, Religion Department, Baldwin Wallace  College, Berea, OH
(See above for courses taught)

Teaching Associate. Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara
Course instructor for "Biblical Hebrew."

Teaching Associate. Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara
Course instructor for "Religious Traditions of India."

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

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

Teaching Assistant. Writing Program, University of California, Santa Barbara
Course instructor for Writing 2, the equivalent of Freshman Composition

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"


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.


Sacred Shame: History, Humiliation, and Religious Violence" in The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence, Andrew R. Murphy, ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Expected 2009

"Ritual: Entry in Encyclopedia of Religion and Film. Eric Mazur, ed. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. Expected 2009

"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