Special Issue "Teaching in Buddhist Studies"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Beverley Foulks McGuire
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Philosophy and Religion Department, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC 28403-5601, USA
Interests: Buddhist Studies; Chinese religions; religion and media; comparative religious ethics; religious games; divination; karma; religion and literature

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This guest issue focuses on the development of effective pedagogical approaches, assignments, and classroom activities for teaching in Buddhist studies. It builds on previous Buddhist studies pedagogy including Todd Lewis and Gary DeAngelis’ Teaching Buddhism: new insights on understanding and presenting the traditions (Oxford University Press, 2017), Judith Simmer-Brown and Fran Grace’s Meditation and the Classroom (SUNY Press, 2011), Sid Brown’s A Buddhist in the Classroom (SUNY Press, 2008), and others (Tsai 2008; Berkwitz 2004; Reynolds 2001). It also engages with recent conversations among Buddhist Studies scholars from a 2018 AAR pre-conference workshop “Buddhism for the Liberally Educated: Today’s Buddhist Studies Classroom.” At this workshop, participants identified many different factors that influence the way we approach instruction about Buddhism, including the institutional context, the departmental culture, and the graduate programs in which we were trained. We also spoke at length about diverse approaches to the study of Buddhism, such as textual analysis, philosophical discussion, or the study of lived Buddhist traditions, which impact the way we might approach Buddhist pedagogy.

Instructors face many challenges when teaching Buddhist studies courses, including how to provide students with a cogent historical narrative without oversimplification, how to redress biases and misinterpretations in early Buddhist studies scholarship, how to incorporate recent discussions and insights from the field of Buddhist studies, and how to engage with contemporary scientific, environmental, economic, ethical and social issues. They must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating contemplative pedagogy within their courses and how they might address potential criticism of contemplative practice as a form of proselytizing or cultural appropriation.

We would like to explore these issues as well as other concerns such as how we might address binaries and assumptions about Buddhism that our students bring to the classroom, how we might facilitate an awareness not only of Buddhist philosophy but also Buddhist practice and lived tradition, and how we might generate greater understanding about diversity within Buddhist traditions.

We encourage contributors to engage with scholarship on teaching and learning, putting their teaching into conversation with critical pedagogy, constructivist learning, transformative learning, experiential learning, and service learning. Questions to consider include the following: What specific teaching methods, assignments, or activities have you found most effective in your Buddhist Studies courses? Are there particular “threshold concepts” or conceptual gateways that enable your students to better understand the field (Meyer & Land, 2006)? What kinds of “significant learning experiences” promote active learning in your courses (Fink 2013)? What types of problem-based assignments, writing projects, or participant observation research have fostered critical thinking for your students (Brookfield 2012; Bean 2011)?

References:

Bean, John C. 2011. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Berkwitz, Stephen C. 2004. Conceptions and Misconceptions about “Western Buddhism”: Issues and Approaches for the Classroom. Teaching Theology & Religion 7: 141–52.

Brookfield, Stephen D. 2012. Teaching for Critical Thinking: Tools and Techniques to Help Students Question Their Assumptions. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Brown, Sid. 2008. A Buddhist in the Classroom. Albany: SUNY Press.

Fink, L. Dee. 2013. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lewis, Todd and Gary DeAngelis, eds. 2017. Teaching Buddhism: new insights on understanding and presenting the traditions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Simmer-Brown, Judith and Fran Grace, eds. 2011. Meditation and the Classroom. Albany: SUNY Press.

Meyer, Jan and Ray Land. 2006. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge. New York: Routledg.

Reynolds, Frank. 2001. Teaching Buddhism in the Postmodern University: Understanding, Critique, Evaluation. Teaching Theology & Religion 4: 9–14.

Tsai, Julius N. 2008. Learning About Teaching from the Traditions We Teach: Reflections on an Undergraduate Buddhism Course. Teaching Theology & Religion 11: 159–64.

Prof. Dr. Beverley Foulks McGuire
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Buddhist Studies
  • Buddhism
  • teaching
  • learning
  • pedagogy

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Bodily Contraction Arises with Dukkha: Embodied Learning to Foster Racial Healing
Religions 2021, 12(12), 1108; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12121108 - 16 Dec 2021
Viewed by 511
Abstract
Black somatic therapist Resmaa Menakem has persuasively argued that racism exist in our bodies more than our heads and that racial healing requires learning to become mindful of our embodied states. The reason that racism remains prevalent despite decades of anti-racist education and [...] Read more.
Black somatic therapist Resmaa Menakem has persuasively argued that racism exist in our bodies more than our heads and that racial healing requires learning to become mindful of our embodied states. The reason that racism remains prevalent despite decades of anti-racist education and the work of diversity and inclusion programs, according to Menakem, is that racist reactions that shun, harm, and kill black bodies are programmed into white, black, and police bodies. The first step in racial healing, from this point of view, is to shift the focus from cognitive solutions to an embodied solution, namely, embodied composure in the face of stressful situations that enables everyone to act more skillfully. Similar to how racial healing has been hampered by a misguided overemphasis on cognitive interventions, might our teaching be analogously encumbered by lack of attention to the bodies of teacher and students? In this article, I emphasize the value of cultivating body awareness in the classroom. I introduce an embodied exercise that teaches students to recognize embodied clues of the experience of dukkha, the first āryasatya. Through such exercises, students take a step towards acting more skillfully and intentionally in stressful situations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching in Buddhist Studies)
Article
Experiments with Buddhist Forms of Thought, Action and Practice to Promote Significant Learning
Religions 2021, 12(7), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070503 - 06 Jul 2021
Viewed by 745
Abstract
While scholars have considered the centrality of teaching in Buddhist traditions and the rich pedagogical resources Buddhism has to offer academic courses on the topic, less attention has been paid to the ways in which Buddhist pedagogy might be applied to the overall [...] Read more.
While scholars have considered the centrality of teaching in Buddhist traditions and the rich pedagogical resources Buddhism has to offer academic courses on the topic, less attention has been paid to the ways in which Buddhist pedagogy might be applied to the overall structure of course design. This article addresses the challenges of presenting the richness and complexity of Buddhist traditions while also encouraging students to experientially engage such traditions in ways that promote transformative learning. It proposes using Buddhist pedagogical principles, together with a model of significant learning (Fink 2013), to design a course according to the Three Trainings in Wisdom, Ethics and Meditation. Framing the course as a series of experiments in Buddhist forms of thought, action, and practice highlights the critical perspective common to both Buddhist and academic approaches and helps maintain important distinctions between Buddhist traditions and popular secular practices. This article describes specific experiments with Buddhist ways of reading and analyzing classic and contemporary texts, films and images, together with experiments in Buddhist methods of contemplative and ethical practice, in an introductory course in order to help students see how forms of suffering that concern them might arise and be stopped or prevented from a Buddhist point of view. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching in Buddhist Studies)
Article
“Deep Listening” in Buddhist Studies: Teaching and Learning during a Pandemic
Religions 2021, 12(6), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060387 - 27 May 2021
Viewed by 1287
Abstract
Co-authored between a professor and student, this essay discusses how an experiential learning assignment of “deep listening” was integrated into an online course on histories of Buddhist meditation. Paired with a group art project, the work provided not only an opportunity to practice [...] Read more.
Co-authored between a professor and student, this essay discusses how an experiential learning assignment of “deep listening” was integrated into an online course on histories of Buddhist meditation. Paired with a group art project, the work provided not only an opportunity to practice critical communication skills, but also a sense of connection and community, which is especially important during the conditions of pandemic isolation. The course design relied on pedagogical principles specifically aimed at supporting student well-being, such as trauma-informed teaching. We reflect on how grounding course design in inclusive, anti-oppressive and care-focused principles may enable new outcomes in teaching and learning beyond this pandemic year. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching in Buddhist Studies)
Article
Buddhism and Cognitive Sciences in Dialogue: Pedagogical Reflections on Teaching across Disciplines
Religions 2021, 12(5), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050303 - 26 Apr 2021
Viewed by 657
Abstract
In this essay, we, a professor and a student, share our experience of teaching and learning in a class on Buddhism and cognitive science at George Washington University. Our goal is not to argue for one approach over others, but to present a [...] Read more.
In this essay, we, a professor and a student, share our experience of teaching and learning in a class on Buddhism and cognitive science at George Washington University. Our goal is not to argue for one approach over others, but to present a guide on this particular class experience. We offer a description of the course and deliberate on the complexities related to the subject matter. Using empirical data from a survey conducted after the commencement of the course, we reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the class and how it could improve. This essay provides a possible template for other faculty members interested in teaching a similar course to extend the dialogue to a new generation of young scholars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching in Buddhist Studies)
Article
Pedagogical Possibilities: A Review of Approaches to Undergraduate Teaching in Buddhist Studies
Religions 2021, 12(4), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040231 - 25 Mar 2021
Viewed by 921
Abstract
This article presents a comprehensive review of the literature on teaching in Buddhist Studies within a framework of backward design, which begins by identifying our learning goals, then determining evidence of learning and planning course activities to facilitate such learning. It identifies big [...] Read more.
This article presents a comprehensive review of the literature on teaching in Buddhist Studies within a framework of backward design, which begins by identifying our learning goals, then determining evidence of learning and planning course activities to facilitate such learning. It identifies big ideas in Buddhist Studies and transferrable skills that could serve as learning goals for our undergraduate courses. Finally, it concludes by suggesting future avenues of research about Buddhist pedagogy in the field of scholarship of teaching and learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching in Buddhist Studies)
Article
The Role of Buddhist Studies in Fostering Metadisciplinary Conversations and Improving Pedagogical Collaborations
Religions 2021, 12(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12010001 - 22 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1197
Abstract
Buddhist studies has been at the center of a number of pedagogical experiments that have emerged on my campus over the last five years in response to Penn State University’s general education reform introducing an integrative studies requirement. The first half of this [...] Read more.
Buddhist studies has been at the center of a number of pedagogical experiments that have emerged on my campus over the last five years in response to Penn State University’s general education reform introducing an integrative studies requirement. The first half of this paper introduces two of these interdisciplinary collaborations. I discuss the structure and goals of these two courses and detail how I integrated Buddhist Studies into the design of each. In the second half of the paper, I describe how the practice of what I call “metadisciplinarity” can help to avoid some of the pitfalls commonly faced in interdisciplinary collaborations. I discuss both how to engage in metadisciplinary reflection and communication and the strengths that Buddhist studies scholars can bring to this kind of pedagogical collaboration based on some core features of our field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching in Buddhist Studies)
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Article
Integrating Contemplative and Ignatian Pedagogies in a Buddhist Studies Classroom
Religions 2020, 11(11), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110567 - 30 Oct 2020
Viewed by 598
Abstract
The burgeoning application of contemplative pedagogy (CP) in Buddhist studies courses has been widely discussed; yet, how educators incorporate it with other teaching strategies has not attracted much scholarly attention. Drawing from the author’s teaching experience at a Jesuit University, this article demonstrates [...] Read more.
The burgeoning application of contemplative pedagogy (CP) in Buddhist studies courses has been widely discussed; yet, how educators incorporate it with other teaching strategies has not attracted much scholarly attention. Drawing from the author’s teaching experience at a Jesuit University, this article demonstrates that integrating CP’s first-person, second-person, and third-person approaches with the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP) will create a multidimensional environment in learning Buddhism in higher education. This article first argues that the issue of avoiding even implied proselytizing can be successfully overcome, as it is related to the application of Buddhist-inspired contemplative practice, such as Cognitively-Based Compassion Training®, in class. Next, based on the principles of CP and the IPP, this study shows specific examples of multisensory contemplation activities that expand students’ ways of knowing about Buddhist practice and foster their consideration for others. Third, to complement the Jesuit educational purpose of students’ spiritual growth, and the CP’s advocating for inner growth, this research navigates these concerns in a way that also enhances students’ learning in the course content. In conclusion, a combination of CP and the IPP facilitates the whole-person development as well as deepens students’ understanding of Buddhism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching in Buddhist Studies)
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