About

Where the cushion meets the academy—making accessible the highest quality and most cutting-edge research and teachings on Buddhism for students and practitioners around the world.

Our Story

In recent years, the popularity of Buddhism, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga has skyrocketed around the world, with tens of millions of Buddhists and non-Buddhists trying to tame their ever-more-stressed minds daily. Alongside the boom in interest in Buddhism, the last decade has also witnessed a surge in academic research into the history, philosophy, and practice of Buddhism. This scholarship sheds new light on the history and traditions of Buddhism, and challenges old but pervasive misconceptions. Unfortunately, however, much of this knowledge is secured behind institutional paywalls and specialized academic jargon, and is thus largely inaccessible to the larger public.

On the other hand, the world of quasi-Buddhist self-help has ballooned, and people interested in learning more about Buddhism encounter a confusing landscape of wishy-washy claims, gimmicky promotion, and "inspirational" quotes misattributed to the Buddha. 

Buddhist Studies Online was founded by Seth Powell in 2021 to provide continued educational services for the broader community interested in learning more about Buddhism. Buddhist Studies Online aims to bridge the gap between the meditation cushion and the academy—seeking to make accessible the highest quality and most cutting-edge research on Buddhism for practitioners and students.

We offer online courses and trainings on the history, philosophy, and languages of Buddhism—seeking the balance between the highest standards in academic scholarship, yet readily accessible, affordable, and meaningful for the modern practitioner.

Our approach is academic and non-sectarian. We do not seek to replace instruction offered by experienced Buddhist teachers or lineage holders, but believe that the academic and practice-based study of Buddhism are complementary. We welcome students of all backgrounds, whether they are experienced meditators, yoga practitioners, Buddhists, or simply someone interested in learning more about Buddhism.

Seth Powell

Founder 

Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South Asian Religions at Harvard University. His research focuses on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern Sanskrit yoga texts and traditions, as well as their intersections with the culture and practice of modern transnational yoga. Seth is the founder and director of Yogic Studies, the founder of Buddhist Studies Online, as well as the host of The Yogic Studies Podcast.

As a scholar-practitioner, Seth is gifted in his ability to present the ancient teachings of yoga clearly in an accessible, light-hearted, and inspiring manner—while maintaining a rigor and sensitivity to traditional Indian knowledge systems. Seth conducts online courses and lectures regularly on the history and philosophy of yoga at studios, teacher trainings, and universities around the country.

Dr. Kate Hartmann

Director 

Kate Hartmann is a scholar of Buddhism and professor of Buddhist studies. She received her PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University (where she met Seth!) in 2021. Her research explores the theory and practice of Tibetan pilgrimage to holy mountains, and focuses on the goal of transforming perception. She also holds an MA in the History of Religions from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. She is currently Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming.   

As part of her training, Kate has spent extended periods of time living in Asia. She has spent summers backpacking across India, living with Tibetan Buddhist nuns in Ladakh, in Dharamsala working in the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, studying at the Dunhuang caves in China, travelling to Lhasa, and conducting research around Boudha in Nepal. She speaks modern colloquial Tibetan and conducts research in Classical Tibetan and Sanskrit. 

As a scholar and teacher, Kate has long been interested in the practices religions develop to transform people's experience of the world. She aims to help students understand Buddhist traditions through deep engagement with primary sources, a process that helps illuminate central Buddhist concepts while embracing the internal diversity of Buddhist traditions. She balances an irreverent and down-to-earth style with deep respect for Buddhist texts, traditions, and practitioners. She teaches both online and in-person courses on the history and philosophy of Buddhism and other Asian religions, and has presented at lectures and conferences around the country.

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