As interest in Buddhism grows in the West, it’s important to make sure that authentic Buddhist studies are conducted at the highest level of academic excellence. Such scholarly distinction once existed only in Asian monasteries and Dharma centers, but today rigorous Buddhist scholarship flourishes at a handful of major universities, both eastern and western. To inspire students and faculty alike, Buddhist study and research programs at the university level require teachers and scholars who are grounded in Buddhism’s traditions, are knowledgeable about the Buddha’s teachings, and have the open-mindedness to debate the role of Buddhism in the world today.
Developing Strong University Programs
KF works with some of the world’s top academic institutions, offering targeted grants and scholarships and developing substantial partnerships. Today, thirteen universities are receiving funds to support Buddhist Studies programs, including full-time faculty positions, visiting professorships, research faculty, centers of Buddhist studies and more. Three landmarks events were the establishment of the Khyentse Chair of Buddhist Studies at the University of California in Berkeley in 2008, the Khyentse Center for Buddhist Textual Scholarship at Hamburg University in 2010, and the Khyentse Gendun Chopel Professorship of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan in 2018.
In addition to supporting established institutions in western academia, efforts are being made to strengthen Buddhist studies programs in formerly Buddhist countries, such as India, China, Mongolia, Cambodia, and Pakistan, and in countries that are not traditionally Buddhist but where interest is high, such as Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary. This flexible collaborative support program ranges from endowing traditional chairs and visiting professors to support for seminars, forums, and exchange programs, as well as scholarships for graduate students and research. KF also presents several academic awards to recognize excellence in Buddhist studies and coordinates an innovative university exchange program for young khenpos and tulkus.
KF funds academic projects at the following institutions:
- Center for Buddhist Studies of National Taiwan University
- Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts, Taiwan
- Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary
- Hong Kong University, Hong Kong
- Mahidol University, Thailand
- Savitribai Phule Pune University, India
- Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Nepal
- Rice University, USA
- National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan
- University of California at Berkeley, USA
- University of Hamburg, Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship, Germany
- University of Sydney, Australia
- University of Vienna, Austria
- 2008 Khyentse Chair of Buddhist Studies established at the University of California at Berkeley
- 2010 Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship founded at Hamburg University
- 2012 The KF board of directors approves plans to set up an Academia Fund to expand our support to academic institutions
- 2013 KF Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertations in Buddhist Studies established.
- 2013 KF sponsors Dongsung Shabdrung Rinpoche to attend the fall semester at the University of California at Berkeley as the first visiting scholar
- 2014 KF and Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts collaborate to translate Tibetan Buddhist Texts into Chinese
— Professor Jacob Dalton, UC Berkeley
—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
— Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
— Peter Skilling, KF Academic Advisor
“At Pune, we wish to create a modern seat of learning by combining indigenous talent with modern scholastic methodology. KF’s visiting professorship facilitates the interaction of India’s budding scholars with the global stalwarts in the field of Buddhist Studies through special teaching programs and joint research.”
“Very few people are focusing on such in-depth study of the texts in their original languages. While there is increasing support for exploration of basic Buddhist concepts such as mindfulness, often the objective is to make people feel good or to reduce stress, and it is often divorced from the essential Buddhist view of the four seals. Of course, mindfulness provides many positive side effects, but the present-day discourse is not necessarily tied to the view of emptiness. It is so important that we support rigorous academic religious studies so that the wisdom tradition can be preserved in its entirety.”
“Without the generosity of Rinpoche and Khyentse Foundation, there would be no Tibetan Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley. Through its gifts to Berkeley and other academic institutions, Khyentse Foundation has already changed the shape of Buddhist Studies around the world.”