ACLS Announces the 2020 Fellows and Grantees of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies


Twenty-four scholars and two universities join seven previous annual cohorts of awardees in a flourishing international network in the academic field of Buddhist studies supported by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, administered by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). 

The Program assists scholars at all career stages, from PhD candidates to senior faculty.  Fellows will conduct research on Buddhist traditions in China, India, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Nepal, and Tibet.  In these truly international competitions, the final written products may be in any language.

Congratulations to all awardees!

Two New Professorships will be established at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest and New York University (NYU) in the US. Seed funding over four years will create a tenure-track professorship in Buddhist Studies at each institution, strengthening the MA program at ELTE and establishing the first position in Buddhist studies at NYU.

Thirteen Dissertation Fellows at institutions in Europe and the United States will devote ten months to archival research, fieldwork, and writing.  Their topics range from the rhetoric of secrecy in early Tibetan Buddhism, to relic theft and sacred space in early Japan, to free funeral services and socially engaged soteriology in contemporary Myanmar.

Dr. Laura Lettere is the only recipient of the Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2020. An independent scholar, she will spend two years in residence in Italy at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and have the opportunity to teach while she continues work on a monograph on the Chinese translation of the Buddhacarita, “The Acts of the Buddha,” and its relation to earlier Chinese translations of Buddhist texts.

Seven Research Fellows at institutions in North America and Europe will receive funding for up to nine months for research and writing.  Their topics range from the spread of Chittagong Buddhism in Bengal (1757-1947), to contemporary representations of the historical Tibetan kingdom of Nangchen (located today in China’s Qinghai province), to the role of palimpsests in the epistolary culture and mourning rituals of medieval Japan.

Three Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations will fund two individual projects and one collaborative team. Based in Europe and in the US, these grantees will produce work of crucial importance to the study of Buddhism and to its wider appreciation by translating texts such as the thirteenth century teachings of the Japanese monk Eison, perhaps the most prominent and charismatic Buddhist figure of his day.

“The breadth and depth of the studies on Buddhism we are supporting this year – from examinations of ancient relics and monastic habitus to practices in contemporary Myanmar – is just breathtaking,” commented Joy Connolly, president of ACLS.  “The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation seeks to seed and nurture an international network of research and teaching in Buddhist studies through this program. ACLS is proud to continue partnering with them in fulfilling that promise, this year adding a cohort of outstanding scholars to this vibrant community, presaging future achievements in the field.”
The 2020-21 competitions will open in August 2020. Contact for more information.

Learn More About The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies
The American Council of Learned Societies, a private, nonprofit federation of 75 national scholarly organizations, is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. Advancing scholarship by awarding fellowships and strengthening relations among learned societies is central to ACLS’s work. This year, ACLS will award more than $25 million to over 350 scholars across a variety of humanistic disciplines.

Established in 2005, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organization based in Hong Kong. Key to the Foundation’s mission is to increase the understanding and impact of Buddhist values and insights globally, and to deepen intercultural awareness through the arts.

To help build a global field of academic research, teaching and exchange, the Foundation supports a series of Buddhist studies grants administered by the American Council of Learned Societies. As well, the Foundation has endowed resources in Buddhist studies at Stanford University, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and The Courtauld Institute of Art. It also supports the Buddhist Digital Resource Centre, a Chinese Buddhism lecture series at SOAS University of London, and the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School.

Seeking to broaden the understanding of Buddhist art, the Foundation helped establish the Galleries of Buddhist Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum and supports exhibitions including recently, Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asiaexhibition at the Sackler Gallery (2017-2020) and Understanding Buddhism Through Art, a three-year education programme designed by Museum Rietberg.