David Germano headshot

David F. Germano

Director, Tibet Center
Director, Contemplative Sciences Center
Director, SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives)
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Religious Studies
Office location and address
Gibson Hall, S-361
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
BA, University of Notre Dame
PhD, University of Wisconsin

David Francis Germano is an American Tibetologist and Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia, the largest Tibetan Studies program in the Americas, where he has taught and researched since 1992. In addition to teaching in the Department of Religious Studies, where he has advised many doctoral students since 1992, Germano is director of the Tibet Center (www.uvatibetcenter.org), director of the Contemplative Sciences Center (www.uvacontemplation.org), and director of SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives, www.shanti.virginia.edu) at the University of Virginia. He also is the founder and director of the Tibetan and Himalayan Library (THL, www.thlib.org), the largest international initiative using digital technology to facilitate collaboration in Tibetan Studies across disciplines.

His personal research interests are focused on the Nyingma and Bön lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, tantric traditions overall, Buddhist philosophy, and Tibetan historical literature and concerns, particularly from the eighth to fifteenth centuries. He also does research on the contemporary state of Tibetan religion in relationship to China, and non-monastic yogic communities in cultural Tibet, and has broad intellectual interests in international philosophical and literary traditions, including hermeneutics, phenomenology, literary criticism, systems theory, and so forth.

Germano has developed a deep expertise in the use of digital technology to facilitate innovation in teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. In the context of THL, he has worked extensively on digital initiatives with geographical data, videos, images, dictionaries, gazetteers, and much more in partnership with scores of scholars from diverse disciplines – geography, linguistics, history, literary studies, environmental science, film studies, and others. With SHANTI, he has broadened this work to focus with others on building a community-based model for mainstreaming digital technology at UVa so as to enable innovation in teaching, research, publication, and engagement. Germano has also been a leader at building academic collaborations with Tibetan institutions, and has facilitated a broad array of exchange programs that have included language instruction, oral traditions documentation, geography, tourism, education, library development and much more. In this context, he has been an advocate of engaged scholarship which actively explores the way in which scholarship impacts on, and empowers, the communities with which universities are involved in complex relationships. This includes the exploration of alternative paradigms of knowledge production and knowledge dissemination.

Since 2012, Germano has directed UVa’s new Contemplative Sciences Center (www.uvacontemplation.org). He works extensively with each of the eleven schools at UVa to explore learning, research, and engagement initiatives regarding contemplation in their own disciplinary and professional areas, as well as new partnerships across the schools. In this capacity, he has helped design and launch a variety of learning and reserach initiatives in contemplative learning. 

Germano is currently returning to work on a fourfold set of works that constitute a comprehensive analysis of the Great Perfection Seminal Heart (rdzogs chen snying thig) tradition from its formation to its full expression in the fourteenth century with the corpus of Longchenpa, one of the greatest of all Tibetan Buddhist authors. This includes a translation of his major work, The Treasury of Words and Meanings (tshig don mdzod), a historical study, a philosophical study, and a literary study of the tradition. He is also working on a powerful cultural geographical system that is collaboratively publishing scholarship on historical and contemporary Tibetan and Himalayan places, communities, and cultural traditions across many disciplines, as well as fundamental scholarly resources – analytical data on places, maps, images, videos, bibliographies, and more. This publishing platform includes an extremely powerful Gazeteer, GIS-based mapping, and associated multimedia repositories. This includes working on a site involving the promotion of community-based tourism in Tibet, which aims to connection scholarly production of knowledge on Tibetan places and communities to actual benefit to the communities involved. Germano is also involved with coordinating others at a larger project at participatory knowledge production that enables Tibetans and Tibetan communities to be fully empowered agents in the global network of how knowledge gets produced about their own places and traditions. He is co-directing an initiative on the Tibetan Buddhist canon, which includes a detailed catalog, scholarly editions of the scriptures themselves, scans of the manuscripts, and scholarly summaries and analysis. This includes multiple editions of the Kangyur and Tengyur, but also ongoing work on the Nyingma Gyubum, and other collections of Tibetan Buddhist Literature He is directing the historical Tibetan Dictionary, which has built a powerful online platform for soliciting and publishing detailed historical studies of Tibetan words, including integrated citations of the usage of words in Tibetan literature. A new project which is not yet public involves the creation of sophisticated event management system for the documentation of Tibetan and Himalayan historical events.

UVA FY2021 Ngawang Choephel Fellows Program
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 20, 2021 – December 31, 2023
A Proposal on Dalai Lama Fellows Funding from the University of Virginia
Source: Hemera Foundation
November 01, 2020 – October 31, 2023
DLF Program Support
Source: Orange County Community Foundation
July 01, 2021 – June 30, 2023
University of Virginia Tibetan Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in the TAR and Tibetan Areas of China
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 05, 2019 – December 31, 2022
University of Virginia Tibetan Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in the TAR and Tibetan Areas of China
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 01, 2018 – December 31, 2022
UVA FY2020 Ngawang Choephel Fellows Program
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 04, 2020 – December 30, 2022
AS-RELI Tibetan Literature Scans
Source: Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center
December 01, 2014 – September 30, 2022
Dalai Lama Fellows
Source: Orange County Community Foundation
June 30, 2018 – July 01, 2021
PV- Alliance for Lupus Research CSC & Contemplation
Source: Alliance for Lupus Research
February 01, 2016 – January 31, 2021
University of Virginia Tibetan Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in the TAR and Tibetan Areas of China
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 01, 2017 – December 31, 2020
PV-CSC EAGER Germination Renewal: Cultivating Creativity in STEM Research through Mindfulness Training
Source: University Of Wisconsin
September 01, 2017 – August 31, 2020
Collaboration between 84000 and UVA
Source: 84000
January 01, 2019 – December 31, 2019
AS-REL Tibetan Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in the TAR and Tibetan Areas of China 2016-2018
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 15, 2016 – December 31, 2018
AS-RELI The Oral Traditions of Bhutan
Source: Charities Aid Foundation
March 13, 2013 – August 31, 2018
AS-RELI Tibet Entrepreneurs Exchange Program 2015-2017
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 01, 2015 – December 30, 2017
Shutdown - Replaced with GG13346
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 01, 2017 – September 01, 2017
AS-RELI Documenting the Languages of Manang and Incorporation into the THL Online Archives
Source: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
July 01, 2013 – June 30, 2017
PV-Dalal Lama Fellows 2015-16
Source: Dalai Lama Fellows
June 01, 2015 – August 31, 2016
AS-RELI Ngwang Choephel Fellows--Kham VII
Source: U.S. Department Of State
September 12, 2014 – August 31, 2016
AS-RELI Humanities Virtual World Consortium
Source: University Of California at Los Angeles
October 01, 2012 – September 30, 2015
AS-RELI UVA Tibetan Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in the TAR and Qinghai
Source: U.S. Department Of State
March 12, 2013 – June 01, 2015
AS-RELI EDL Programming for the University of Toronto
Source: The Governing Council of the University of Toronto
September 10, 2011 – March 30, 2015
AS-RELI Sustainable Tibet
Source: Winrock International
December 10, 2009 – October 31, 2014
AS-RELI Mind & Life Contemplative Studies Fellowship-Germano
Source: Mind and Life Institute
June 01, 2013 – August 31, 2014
Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Source: U.S. Department Of Education - Post Secondary Ed.
October 01, 2009 – September 30, 2013
ESL 800: American English Language & Culture and U.S. Higher Education
An intensive language and culture course, designed for non-native speakers of English with an interest in university studies in the United States. Participants work on development of language skills required for success in U.S. higher education through exercises in academic writing, academic reading and vocabulary development, listening comprehension, pronunciation, classroom discussion strategies, and presentation skills.
RELG 1559: New Course in Religious Studies
Credits: 3
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new course in the subject of Religious Studies.
ENGR 1559: Special Topics in Engineering
Credits: 3
Considers engineering practices and principles in their local and global context. Topics vary based upon student and faculty interest.
RELB 2165: Buddhist Meditation and the Modern Secular World
Credits: 3
This course focuses on meditation from three overlapping perspectives: traditional Buddhist practices, contemporary scientific research, and modern secular adaptations; students also learn secular meditative practices firsthand. Each day we will explore a major type of meditation that relates to a variety of topics and practices - attention, insight, compassion, aesthetics, somatic work, visualization, open awareness, and so forth.
ZFOR 3512: International Study
Placeholder course for students studying abroad
RELS 4995: Independent Research
Credits: 1–6
Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision. Prerequisite: Permission of departmental advisor and instructor.
RELB 5490: Religious History of Tibet
Credits: 3
Surveys political, social, religious, and intellectual issues in Tibetan history from the fifth to fifteenth centuries, emphasizing the formation of the classical categories, practices, and ideals of Tibetan Buddhism.
RELS 8500: Topics for Supervised Study and Research
Credits: 1–6
This topical course provides Master's and Doctoral students in Religious Studies an opportunity for advanced coursework in selected, established areas of the department's curriculum.
RELB 8559: New Course in Buddhism
Credits: 1–4
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new course in the subject of Buddhism.
RELB 8718: Tutorial in Thalgyur Tantra and Commentary
Credits: 3
This course is exploring one of the most important scriptures in the history of esoteric Buddhism, the Thalgyur, and its extensive commentary attributed to Vimalamitra. The two texts are over a thousand pages in length, only existent in Tibetan, and extremely difficult to understand. This course explores the texts through detailed philological and interpretative analysis.
RELB 8724: Tutorial in Classical Tibetan Literature and Religion
Credits: 3
This course explores classical Tibetan literature and religious systems through a variety of genres in the original Tibetan texts.
RELS 8995: Research
Credits: 1–12
Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision.
RELS 8998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
RELS 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
RELS 9998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
RELS 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.