Symposium on “Buddhist Studies Today”


The “Buddhist Studies Today” symposium, supported by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation and organized by ACLS, took place at the University of British Columbia, June 7–9, 2015. (See symposium program.)

In her opening remarks, ACLS President Pauline Yu noted that this was the second meeting on Buddhist studies to be held at UBC and organized by the American Council of Learned Societies.  The first, in 1966, had the character of a summit—senior scholars gathered to assess the state of the field and to chart its prospects and urgent needs.  (See video of introductory remarks.)

The 2015 symposium was also led by senior scholars.  The opening convocation heard welcoming remarks from Arvind Gupta, president of the University of British Columbia, Ted Lipman, executive director of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, and Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies. Their remarks were followed by the keynote address of Donald S. Lopez, Jr., the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan.  Arthur Link attended the 1966 meeting at UBC. 

Half a century later, the symposium included a vibrant representation of the new international generation of Buddhist studies—the first cohort of Dissertation Fellows of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, administered by ACLS.  The symposium was convened to celebrate the fellows’ achievements and to afford them an opportunity to present their work in progress to critical friends—their peers and senior advisors to the Buddhist Studies Program—in an intensive two-day workshop.  

The three-day symposium concluded with a roundtable on the insights into Buddhism prompted by fellows’ presentations and on the prospects of the academic field of Buddhist studies.  Speakers at the roundtable acclaimed the symposium a success, both for the wisdom shared and for the intellectual friendships formed.  Both bode well for the field.

The University of British Columbia had been chosen as the site for the event by the foundation in line with its interest in building an international network in Buddhist studies through strengthening relations among the individuals and institutions associated with the Foundation. The pleasant surroundings at UBC as well as the participation of its faculty and graduate students confirmed the aptness of the choice.

For more information, see the profiles of the first cohort of Dissertation Fellows on ACLS's website. The program page offers detailed information on competitions, which include support for postdoctoral fellows and collaborative research grants.  All are global competitions with no restrictions as to the location of the work proposed or the citizenship of applicants.