Like many undergraduate students, Catherine Hartmann used her college experience as an opportunity to explore various areas of study. What began as an introduction to Buddhism in literature and film soon developed into a passion. Through support from The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, administered by ACLS, Hartmann has not only emerged as a scholar, but entered a career in Buddhist Studies.
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies supports research, writing, translation, and the formation of new, tenure-track teaching positions in Buddhist Studies across the globe. The program seeks to advance the field of academic Buddhism, as well as build and sustain a global learning network that enhances understanding and appreciation of Buddhist values and insights.
In 2018, Hartmann was awarded a Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Buddhist Studies, allowing her to take a year off teaching and focus solely on writing and editing her dissertation, Making the Invisible Real: Practices of Seeing in Tibetan Pilgrimage Literature, at Harvard University. In 2019, Hartmann was appointed Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming, a position created with seed funding from a 2019 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation New Professorship in Buddhist Studies grant.
“Buddhist Studies had not previously been taught at the University of Wyoming,” Hartmann said. “Through this and other New Professorships, ACLS and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Global have supported the creation of positions that support ongoing research in Buddhist Studies and also provide the means to introduce the next generation of students to the field.”
ACLS and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Global have supported the creation of positions that support ongoing research in Buddhist Studies and also provide the means to introduce the next generation of students to the field.
Hartmann first became interested in Buddhist Studies through a class on “Buddhism in Fiction and Film” at the University of Virginia. It led her to take courses in Sanskrit and Tibetan and eventually travel to India to research her undergraduate senior thesis. Today, her research focuses on the history of Tibetan pilgrimage to holy mountains and the goal of transforming perception while on pilgrimage.
“Courses in Religious Studies fascinated me because I have always been interested in how people see the world, and in the various ways religions have developed to change how people see the world,” Hartmann said. “I try to share my fascination about these questions with my own students, in hopes that they will begin their own journey of questioning and exploration.”
Hartmann has also been able to share her research with other scholars through the Program in Buddhist Studies’ annual workshops and symposia. She first attended in September 2019, which provided an opportunity to receive and incorporate edits from senior scholars on her dissertation.
During this intensive workshop, we presented and discussed our findings with other fellows and with senior scholars, providing opportunities to sharpen our arguments while also making connections with scholars from other institutions.
Left: Group photo from the 2019 Buddhist Studies Symposium at the University of New Mexico
“During this intensive workshop, we presented and discussed our findings with other fellows and with senior scholars, providing opportunities to sharpen our arguments while also making connections with scholars from other institutions,” she explained. “This not only helped me improve my dissertation during the final rounds of editing, but also broadened my academic network.”
In August 2022, Hartmann will return to the ACLS Buddhist Studies Early Career Retreat in Princeton, New Jersey. She will join the Manuscript Development Workshop to work on the book she is developing from her dissertation. Along with three other recent PhDs, she will work with two senior scholars to share draft book proposals and manuscripts.
“I’m looking forward to having ample time to read these works-in-progress closely, and to get deeper feedback than is ordinarily possible in a conference or workshop format,” Hartmann said. “These types of opportunities are so helpful for early-career faculty like me.”
Explore Catherine Hartmann’s Public Scholarship on Buddhist Studies
Catherine Hartmann hosts The Buddhist Studies Podcast, and recently scripted three videos for the popular YouTube channel Religion for Breakfast:
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies
Meet the latest fellows and grantees.
Launched in 2014, the Program in Buddhist Studies, administered by ACLS, promotes the academic study of Buddhism and the dissemination of knowledge of Buddhism through support for dissertations, research, and writing, and by assisting institutions to establish new, tenure-track teaching positions.