One of Khyentse Foundation’s primary aims is to promote the development of Buddhist Studies in major academic institutions throughout the world, particularly at institutions where support will create a “critical mass” of scholarly activity. By providing support in the form of endowed chairs such as the one at UC Berkeley, the Foundation hopes to inspire others to help strengthen or restart an important tradition of study in academic institutions, especially in countries with a strong Buddhist heritage, such as Indonesia, Afghanistan, India, Cambodia, and others.
To this end, an exploratory committee has been formed to gather the information necessary to assess the state of Buddhist Studies in the world today and to evaluate which programs might most benefit from support by KF and other like-minded organizations. A major objective of the survey is to identify important gaps in existing Buddhist Studies programs, in order to ascertain whether KF can effectively help fill those gaps. The committee includes Gene Smith, founder of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center; Peter Skilling, founder of the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation; and Khyentse Foundation advisors Richard Dixey and Steven Goodman.
The research team, which includes Isaiah Seret, Lynn Hoberg, Brian Mahanay, and Cangioli Che, has already embarked on identifying the top religious studies departments and the most-published Buddhist Studies professors. They’ve begun to compile a list of universities that give master’s degrees in Buddhist Studies, as well as a list of recipients of those degrees over the past ten years. They are in the process of designing a questionnaire that volunteers worldwide can use to gather the necessary information.