My career is marked by a far-reaching international itinerary. I earned my academic degrees in Switzerland (BA, PhD), the United States (MA, PhD), and France (EMBA); conducted dissertation research in Italy, India, and Nepal; and taught undergraduate and graduate courses at universities Switzerland (Bern, Fribourg, Basel), the United States (Virginia), Israel (Jerusalem), and Australia (Sydney). In my adult life, I have lived in 9 different countries and have travelled to over 60. The people, places, and cultures that I encountered along the way have been the best education I've ever had.
Flavio’s CAREER Timeline
2024-PRESENT |SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
SENIOR LECTURER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
I am currently the Khyentse Foundation Macready Senior Lecturer in Tibetan Buddhism at the University of Sydney in Australia. Working in the School of Languages and Cultures, I offer language training (including Tibetan and Sanskrit), courses on Indo-Tibetan religions and Central Asia, I am also developing units on tantric Buddhism as well as advanced courses related to meditation as a technology of change.
2023-2025 | PARIS, FRANCE
EXECUTIVE MBA AT HEC PARIS
Having completed two monographs authored specifically for an academic audience, I am now working on two projects intended for a more general audience. To jumpstart this mission and to expand my horizon, I return to come full circle. Nearly two decades after my initial studies of economics at the University of Zurich, I now pursue an Executive MBA at HEC Paris. This top-ranked business program not only helps me gain a better understanding of some of the world’s most urgent challenges, but it also gives me to opportunity to think about the future of meditation research. More specifically, I benefit from this course of studies to experiment with contemplative practices, testing their applicability for leadership development, resilience building, and change management.
2019-2024 | JERUSALEM & TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH & SECOND MONOGRAPH
After completing my PhDs in Europe and the United States, I embarked on a new adventure. I successfully competed for fellowships from the Khyentse Foundation (2019-21), the Lady Davis Foundation (2020-21), the Azrieli Foundation (2021-23), and the Mandel Scholion Research Center (2021-24) to become a postdoctoral researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Settling in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, I rewrote my second dissertation and published it as a book titled Tibetan Sky-Gazing Meditation and the Pre-History of Great Perfection Buddhism. During those years, I also started work on a new research project dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of tantric meditation practices in Indo-Tibetan religions. In the meantime, I continued teaching courses at various universities in Israel and Switzerland.
2018-2020 | BERN & CHARLOTTESVILLE
PHD DEFENSES & FIRST MONOGRAPH
In 2018 and 2019, I successfully defended my two PhDs at the Universities of Bern and Virginia. The year after, rewrote my first dissertations in order to publish it in the form of a monograph. Given that this thesis was of almost biblical proportions (the dissertation was almost 1000 pages long), this was a major undertaking. Myfirst monograph, titled The Life and Work of Ernesto De Martino: Italian Perspectives on Apocalypse and Rebirth in the Modern Study of Religion, has been published by Brill in the prestigious Numen Book Series in 2021. Thanks to a generous grant by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the book has been published in open access and can be accessed here.
2015-2016 | KATHMANDU, NEPAL
FIELDWORK AND PHD RESEARCH
For my PhD research at the University of Virginia, I spent 18 months in the Himalayas, more specifically in Kathmandu, Nepal. Funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship from the United States Department of Education, I passed my time reading ancient scriptures and commentarial literature of the famous Tibetan Buddhist tradition, known as the Great Perfection (rdzogs chen, Dzogchen). Living with local people and benefitting from the inimitable mentorship of the late Laxmi Nath Shrestha, I also learned fluent Nepali.
2014-2015 | ROME, ITALY
ARCHIVAL RESEARCH FOR DISSERTATION
After finishing my master’s degree, I started working on a research project on Ernesto de Martino (1908-1965), a historian of religions that I first encountered during my undergraduate studies at the University of Lausanne. I received a generous doc.mobility fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation to conduct my dissertation research in de Martino’s archives, which were hosted at one of the oldest musical institutions in the world, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Even though my archival research officially ended after 18 months, I still struggle to leave the eternal city and still spend much of my time in Rome.
2010-2013 | CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA
MA IN HISTORY OF RELIGIONS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
My trip around the world was cut short as I decided to settle in the United States, where I spent time in various locations before settling in Charlottesville, Virginia. Although I was admitted into the MA-PhD program at the University of Virginia to conduct a comparative study of contemplative practices in Hinduism and Judaism, I quickly became passionate about the study of Tibetan religions and made this the focus of my coursework under the supervision of David Germano and Kurtis Schaeffer.
2009-2010 | A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD
EXTENSIVE TRAVELS & CONTEMPLATIVE EXPERIENCES IN VARIOUS PARTS OF ASIA
After completing my BA, I spent a year and a half traveling around the world. During this period, I spent extended periods of time engaging in meditation and yoga practice, both in group and solitary retreat settings.
2006-2008 | DEHRADUN, KATHMANDU, & JERUSALEM
LANGUAGE STUDIES IN ASIA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Thanks to generous grants from various institutions associated with the University of Lausanne, I spent my summers studying Hindi, Hebrew, and Tibetan at the Mussoorie Language School in Northern India (2006), the Hebrew University of Jeruslaem in Israel (2007), and the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal (2008).
2005-2008 | Lausanne, Switzerland
BA IN SCIENCE DES RELIGIONS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAUSANNE
I completed my undergraduate studies in religious studies (sciences des religions) with a focus on Judaism and Indo-Tibetan religions at the University of Lausanne, in the French part of Switzerland. Besides providing me with fundamental philological and cultural training in these religious traditions, the program has decisively shaped my career trajectory by exposing me to a diverse range of methodological approaches, which still inform my research today.
2004-2005 | SIENA, DENVER, & A PILGRIMAGE
FORMATIVE EXPERIENCES ABROAD
After high school, I initially started to study economics at the University of Zurich, before spending two semesters at the University of Siena (Italy) and the University of Denver (USA). Standing at a crossroad in my life, I also completed the Camino de Santiago. It was during this period of exploration that I first encountered the world of religions, igniting his enduring fascination with practices of self-transformation. Little did I know that I would return to business school almost two decades later...
1980s & 90s | ZURICH, SWITZERLAND
CHILDHOOD & EARLY LIFE
Born into a family with Italian origins as the oldest of five children, I grew up in the German part of Switzerland in the city of Zurich. I specialized in the study of modern languages during my years at the Gymnasium learning English, French, and Spanish. I actually did not like going to school and had consistently low grades. I was a child with much energy and spent much of his time playing sports.