Portrait image of Tom Forsthoefel
Thomas Forsthoefel


Contact Information

OFFICE: Preston 211
PHONE: 814-824-2353

Dr. Thomas Forsthoefel is Professor of Religious Studies, specializing in South Asian religions and philosophies. His articles have been published in Philosophy East and West, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Journal of Vaishnava Studies, and Horizons, among others, and he has written or edited four books: "Knowing Beyond Knowledge" (Ashgate, 2002), a study of the cognitive dimension of religious experience in Hindu Advaita, "Gurus in America" (SUNY, 2006), a volume he co-edited with Cynthia Ann Humes, "Soulsong: Seeking Holiness, Coming Home" (Orbis, 2006), and "The Dalai Lama: Essential Writings" (Orbis, 2008), an edited volume of the philosophical, ethical, and meditation teachings of the Dalai Lama.

Dr. Forsthoefel was the Erie County Poet Laureate from 2010-2012, during which he hosted, in collaboration with the Mercyhurst Literary Festival, readings by renowned poets such as Robert Bly and Jane Hirshfield.  As part of his tenure as Laureate, he also created and led poetry workshops at the Erie County Jail and the Albion State Correctional Facility.  Dr. Forsthoefel served as chair of the department of Religious Studies from 2006-2013.

About Dr. Thomas Forsthoefel
    • Ph.D. University of Chicago
    • M.A. University of Chicago
    • M.A. Loyola University, Chicago
    • A.B. Georgetown University
    • What is Religion?
    • World Religions
    • Hinduism
    • Buddhism
    • The Sacred & Cinema
    • Eastern Philosophy
    • Poetry of the Sacred
    • New Religious Movements
    • Seminar on Texts & Contexts in India
    • Senior Thesis
    • Epistemology of religious experience
    • Holiness in religions
    • The Guru phenomenon
    • Sacred poetry in the world’s religions
    • Charismatic leadership in New Religious Movements
    • American Academy of Religion (AAR)
    • South Asian Religions (SARIE) section of the AAR
    • “Lineages and Emerging Exemplars of Movements.” In Bloomsbury Cultural History of Hinduism, vol. 3, ed. K. Pechilis (Bloomsbury: London and New York, forthcoming fall 2023). 
    • “Hindu Religious Epistemology.” In Cambridge Handbook of Religious Epistemology, ed. J. Fuqua, J. Greco, and T.D. McNabb (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, U.K., and New York, NY, forthcoming fall 2023).
    • “Loving the Ineffable: Epistemic Humility and Interfaith Solidarity.”  Journal of Dharma Studies 1 (2: 2019), 259-268.
    • “The Guru and the Zaddik and the Testimony of the Holy Ones.”  In Dharma and Halacha: Comparative Studies in Hindu-Jewish Philosophy and Religion, ed. I. Theodor and Y. Greenberg (Lexington Books: NY, 2018), 159-175.  
    • “Advaita Vedanta of Shankara.”  In History of Indian Philosophy, ed. P. Bilimoria with A. Rayner. (Routledge University Press: Abington, UK, and New York, NY, 2018), 233-241.
    • “The Cult of Trump: Dangers of Charismatic Authority,” Patheos.com. Published February 21, 2018.
    • “Merton and the Axes of Dialogue.”  Journal of Buddhist-Christian Studies 37 (2017), pp. 65-72. 
    • “For the Love of Complexity: Educating Beyond Enthusiasms.”  Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies 28 (2015), pp. 100-107.
    • The Dalai Lama: Essential Writings (editor).  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008.
    • Soulsong: Seeking Holiness, Coming Home. Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 2006.  
    • Gurus in America (co-editor with Cynthia Ann Humes).  Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005. 
    • Knowing Beyond Knowledge: Epistemologies of Religious Experience in Classical and Modern Advaita. London: Ashgate, 2002.
    • Dr. Forsthoefel with the Hafenmaier College Presidential Award winner, Grace Bonnett, graduation 2023. Dr. Forsthoefel supervised Grace’s senior project in the Religious Studies program.