kf-awardKhyentse Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its first European Award for Outstanding Dissertations in Buddhist Studies. The award is presented every two years to the best PhD dissertation in the field of Buddhist Studies written in Europe, including the UK, during the previous two academic years. The dissertation must be written in English, based on original research in the relevant primary language, and it should significantly advance understanding of the subject or Buddhist scriptures studied.
Dr. Jens Wilhelm Borgland’s A Study of the Adhikaranavastu: Legal Settlement Procedures of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, was selected as the joint winner of the award, along with Dr. David Higgins’ dissertation, The Philosophical Foundations of Classical Dzogchen in Tibet: Investigating the Distinction Between Dualistic Mind and Primordial Knowing. Because of the strength of both dissertations, the five-member selection committee decided to make a joint award.

Jens W. Borgland

Jens W. Borgland

“Dr. Borgland’s dissertation is a model of a PhD thesis. It offers a first comprehensive study on the settlement procedures in vinaya literature, involves a high level of technical difficulties, and demands excellent analytical skills,” said Dr. Naomi Appleton, chair of the KF selection committee. “The thesis will undoubtedly become a standard work in vinaya studies, a sound pillar on which subsequent research can rely. Borgland puts himself in the lineage of Schopen and Clarke, whose work has radically changed this particular field.”

Dr. Borgland earned his PhD from the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. He has been teaching Sanskrit at the University of Oslo and is a guest researcher at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies. He also holds a master of philosophy degree in Asian and African studies with specialization in Sanskrit and a bachelor of arts degree in cultural and social sciences with a major in religious studies, both from the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo.


Dr. David Higgins

Dr. Higgins holds a doctorate from the University of Lausanne (2012), where he completed his thesis on the philosophical foundations of the Tibetan Great Perfection tradition under the supervision of Prof. Tom Tillemans. The thesis was published in 2013 in the Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde series at the University of Vienna. “Dr. Higgins’ work is a truly masterful analysis and overview of the Tibetan Nyingma tradition’s reception, understanding, and, to some extent, reinterpretation of a topic of crucial philosophical and soteriological importance,” said Dr. Appleton.

“I am very pleased and greatly honored to have been jointly selected for this Khyentse Foundation award,” said Dr. Higgins. “It is gratifying to receive such positive evaluation of my work. I believe that awards like yours make a valuable contribution to the scholarly community by encouraging the pursuit of excellence in Buddhist studies and also making the work of graduate students in the field more widely known.”
To be considered for this award, dissertations must be written in English. The award consists of US$8,000 to enable the recipient to further his or her research. Borgland and Higgins will split the award this year.

Khyentse Foundation sponsors a similar award for dissertations written in Asia. Accredited institutions that offer PhD programs in Buddhist Studies or Religious Studies in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are invited to nominate one dissertation that was completed during the academic years 2013-14 and 2014-15. Nominations will be accepted from October 1 through December 31, 2015. More information can be found here.