Special Board Meeting Report on University Study by Sydney Jay, Research Director.
The Global University Study research project is a Khyentse Foundation initiative to identify the best ways to support the academic study of Buddhism worldwide. Just one third of the way through the study, our advisory committee and research team have already identified four preliminary findings.
In the first of our four findings, we categorized universities into three “buckets”: centers of excellence, resource universities, and corresponding universities. This “three buckets” structure is the result of discussions with our advisors, Gene Smith and Professor Peter Skilling. This is a very useful structure for identifying critical leverage points and for generating insightful recommendations for support.
Our second finding suggests that KF can have a high impact by focusing on strategic actions that are smaller in scope and cost and that can be accomplished relatively soon. For example, we could partner with institutions to host a workshop or symposium for foundations on making informed decisions about funding academic chairs or institutes. We could also provide funding and organizational support for scholars from monasteries in India and Tibet to visit universities in the West and for professors from Western universities to visit Asian and Himalayan Buddhist universities and institutes.
In our third finding, we have discovered that there are centers of excellence that are in danger of losing crucial positions due to lack of funding; one such example is the University of Sydney. This appears to be an urgent matter, and both Gene Smith and Peter Skilling recommend that it should be addressed by the general Buddhist academic community. They also strongly advise that we add to our criteria for funding the need to protect what is already in place before funding new positions or programs.
Our fourth finding indicates that when this study is complete, we will have in one document a picture of the depth and variety of Buddhist scholarship throughout the world. We will know what is and is not being studied, and we will be able to identify the gaps and overlaps. We will also be able to identify what is most urgently needed to support and broaden Buddhist scholarship in the world.
We have accomplished a great deal during this past year. Most importantly, the data collection from the universities was completed by a volunteer research team under the leadership of Lynn Hoberg and project coordinator Isaiah Seret. Data analysis has begun, and information from about 20% of the universities has been summarized and synthesized. The analysis and report will be complete by June of 2010. In addition, at two advisory meetings, one in January and one in June, we refined the scope of the study to focus on universities with the most potential to benefit from KF and other support. Our original methodology was to rank order 104 top universities around the world, based on the answers to a set of research questions. However, as we redefined the scope and focus of the project, the study now focuses on 43 universities, reflecting a refined set of criteria for analysis that was proposed by our advisory committee.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU
The KF Global University Study would not have been possible without the valuable contribution of the following volunteer data collectors from more than 20 countries:
Julie Adler, Dr. Tamas Agocs, Venerable Aggacitta, Ani Dianne Cadwallader, John Koon-Chung Chan, Tenzin Chosang, Christine Conlon, Marie Crivelli, Andreas Doctor, Abbie Duchon, Paloma Fataar, Greg Forgues, Tom Gwinn, Rosalina Ho, Amy Holmes, Huang Jing Rui, Nisheeta Jagtiani, Craig Kaufman, Nikki Leger, Ana Christina Lopes, Laura Lopez, Jill Robinson, Louise Rodd, Kimberly Post Rowe, Matthew Schojan, Linda Smith, Antonio Terrone, Jean Thies, Doris Wolter, Rosemary Wong, Jun Xie, Siew Chin Yong