Episode 16 – Janet Gyatso, Teaching Posthumanism and Animal Ethics in Buddhist Studies


In this episode, Dr. Janet Gyatso discusses how she teaches her students about posthumanism and animal ethics in her courses on Buddhist Studies. She is the Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies and Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs at Harvard Divinity School.


“Part of what I’m trying to do is set aside all the mythology and ideology that we have and try to see animals for what they are.” Janet Gyatso

“One way of thinking about posthumanism is to stop assuming that humans are the most important and the best species on our planet.” Janet Gyatso

“We don’t only use our rational minds, we never only use our rational minds, we always are embodied, it’s only the question of what we can foreground and be aware of.” Janet Gyatso

Links and References (in order of appearance)

Gyatso, Janet. Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998. https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691009483/apparitions-of-the-self

Donna Haraway

Braidotti, Rosi. The Posthuman. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013. https://rosibraidotti.com/publications/the-posthuman-2/

Dipesh Chakrabarty

Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/G/bo22265507.html

Kohn, Eduardo. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520276116/how-forests-think

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.https://www.dukeupress.edu/vibrant-matter

Franz De Waal

Safina, Carl. Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel. New York, NY: Picador,  2016.https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780805098884

Lopez, Barry. Of Wolves and Men. New York, NY: Scribner, 1979.https://bookshop.org/books/of-wolves-and-men/9780684163222

Robert Macfarlane

My Octopus Teacher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s0LTDhqe5A&ab_channel=Netflix

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classical of the Animal Movement. New York, NY: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009. https://www.amazon.ca/Animal-Liberation-Definitive-Classic-Movement/dp/0061711306

Korsgaard, Christine. Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2018. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/fellow-creatures-9780198753858?cc=ca&lang=en&

Crary, Alice.  Inside Ethics: On the Demands of Moral Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674967816

Nagel, Thomas. “What is it like to be a bat?” The Philosophical review 83, no. 4 (1974): 435–450. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/iatl/study/ugmodules/humananimalstudies/lectures/32/nagel_bat.pdf

Cows coming out after winter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA8dAnlD51o&ab_channel=CowSignals

James Rebanks (The Herdy Shepherd)

Janet Gyatso on Harvard Divinity School website https://hds.harvard.edu/people/janet-gyatso

Photographer: Kristie Welsh

Recorded on January 7, 2021; released May 13, 2021

How to cite in Chicago Style with notes and bibliography format:

  1. Sarah Richardson, “Janet Gyatso: Teaching Posthumanism and Animal Ethics in Buddhist Studies,” May 13, 2021, in The Circled Square: Teaching Buddhist Studies in Higher Education, produced by Betsy Moss, podcast, MP3 audio, 55:04, http://teachingbuddhism.net/janet-gyatso/.

Richardson, Sarah. “Janet Gyatso: Teaching Posthumanism and Animal Ethics in Buddhist Studies.” Produced by Betsy Moss. The Circled Square: Teaching Buddhist Studies in Higher Education, May 13, 2021. Podcast, 55:04. http://teachingbuddhism.net/janet-gyatso/.

How to cite in MLA:

Richardson, Sarah, host. “Janet Gyatso: Teaching Posthumanism and Animal Ethics in Buddhist Studies.” The Circled Square: Teaching Buddhist Studies in Higher Education, episode 16, May 13, 2021. http://teachingbuddhism.net/janet-gyatso/.