This course considers Tibetan culture from an ethnographic perspective, exploring the topic within Nepalese ethnic communities that are culturally continuous with Tibet, and in the refugee community. Music, dance, art, religion, food and social structure are considered along with issues such as adaptation, migration, globalization and identity. The course incorporates a broad theoretical and historical perspective as well as using field trips and encounters with members of the community to introduce and explain relevant issues.
This course looks at Buddhism in Kathmandu Valley, especially as practiced by its indigenous inhabitants, the Newars. As the sole remnant of traditional South Asian Mahāyāna in a Sanskrit idiom, the Newar tradition offers important insights into the development of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The course investigates the rich fabric of Newar culture and religious life, including ritual and devotional practices, its hereditary sangha, renowned artistic tradition, and the interplay of Buddhism and Hinduism in the valley.
This course considers “development” as it has been historically practiced in developing countries, the philosophy behind it, and recent critiques. It examines the juxtaposition of the Buddhist emphasis on internal development with the post-1950’s emphasis on economic and social development. Classroom lectures introduce the theory of development studies and its relation to Buddhist notions of internal development, with emphasis put on group discussion during class time.
Service learning is designed to complement students’ formal study of a subject with related service in the community, as well as critical reflection on the experience. The practical application, in a real-life social context, of principles and practices learned in the classroom can be an opportunity for profound experiential learning. The combination of academic study and social engagement benefits both society and the student, highlights the relevance of a particular subject matter, and fosters a sense of civic responsibility.
This course examines classical Buddhist theories of mind and mental cultivation, the significant impact of these theories and practices on modern psychology and neuroscience, and the ways in which Buddhism and modern thinking about the mind and brain are being transformed through dialogue with each other.
This course consists of a critical investigation of the encounter between Buddhism and science. The main topics may include the study of the ways in which these two traditions have interacted, theoretical issues arising from that encounter, the comparison and analysis of their respective world views, the way science is approached and presented by Buddhism, and contemporary discussions of the intersection between these two traditions.
This course investigates the art and architecture of the Buddhist world, with special attention to the Himalayan region. It investigates how representations of Buddhist belief and practice developed in a wide variety of historical and cultural contexts, as Buddhism spread through Asia. Particular emphasis is given to traditions found in Nepal and Tibet. Participants investigate a topic of special interest at greater depth that will form the basis for a final project and evaluation.
This course provides a study of the various rituals found within the Buddhist traditions. Students explore ritual theory, symbol systems, historical development of ritual, and the role of ritual in religious life. They become familiar with the most important Buddhist rites and rituals and the ways they are related to other aspects of Buddhism. The course surveys the approaches that the discipline of ritual studies provides, to develop a better understanding of Buddhist rituals themselves and the theoretical issues that arise in relation to the study of Buddhist ritual.
The Independent Research Project offers students an opportunity to explore in depth a subject of special interest, particularly one not offered in the regular curriculum. The focus of the research project should be a specific topic rather than general issues in Buddhist Studies. Research projects are supervised by faculty members or other experts in the field of interest. Advisors assist in planning projects, but responsibility for the design and the execution of the project lies with the student. A written report of approximately 4,000 words is expected upon completion of the project.
The Bachelor of Arts dissertation is a means for a student to demonstrate the capacity to undertake and report on significant academic research. The topic, which is chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor, should relate directly to the field of Buddhist Studies, and include a well-articulated thesis. The dissertation should give evidence of a solid knowledge of methodological tools, and an ability to utilize primary sources in their original languages or in translation.