The State of California, taken as a whole, has unequalled resources for the academic study of Buddhism. UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC Santa Barbara, and Stanford each have world-renown specialized Ph.D. programs in Buddhist Studies, as well as dedicated Centers for Buddhist Studies that promote advanced research as well as a variety of outreach programs. Together these four campuses have some two dozen faculty specialists in the art, architecture, culture, history, literature, and philosophy of Buddhism. Each of these scholars is a leader in his or her respective subfields; in addition, there are a number of eminent scholars teaching in smaller programs at UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, and the University of Santa Clara.
While these faculty members are all familiar with the research interests and published work of their peers from other programs, to date there has been little attempt to collaborate on research or coordinate teaching across institutions. The only formal effort at cross-campus collaborative teaching was a joint Buddhist studies graduate seminar between UC Berkeley and Stanford that ran through much of the 1980s and 1990s. Berkeley and Stanford recently revived this cooperative spirit, putting together a joint colloquium series as well as sponsoring an annual Berkeley-Stanford Graduate Student conference. The student conference met over the past three years, alternating between the two campuses, and was a tremendous success.
This inaugural conference provides an opportunity not only for graduate students to present their research to a broad group of specialists, but also a venue to explore possibilities for greater cooperation and collaboration among Buddhist Studies programs throughout the UC system and with other, non-UC programs in California.
Each of the four main institutions participating in the proposed conference has a major doctoral program as well as a center sponsoring research in Buddhist Studies:
While UC Berkeley's Center for Buddhist Studies is assuming organizational responsibilities for this inaugural conference, the understanding among the four participating universities is that administrative/hosting duties for this annual event will rotate among the participating universities from year to year.
The UC/Stanford Graduate Student Conference in Buddhist Studies will begin on the afternoon of Friday, March 28, 2008 and run through midday Sunday, March 30, 2008. The conference will have two main components:
1. Panels of vetted graduate student papers followed by faculty responses.
These panels will provide graduate students with the unique opportunity to present their work to Buddhist Studies faculty from four universities and receive both formal and informal feedback from them. The students will be given an opportunity to identify areas of mutual interest and to share resources. Intellectually and professionally, therefore, this conference offers a venue for students to develop their scholarship and make important connections in their chosen field of study.
2. Workshops to discuss issues of mutual interest to our programs, and to explore possibilities for collaborative research and teaching mentioned above.
Specific issues to be discussed include:
- sharing visiting scholars across campuses,
- student and faculty exchanges,
- use of electronic classroom technology for graduate seminars and for teaching rarely taught languages,
- formation of cross-campus examination and dissertation committees,
- identification of possible topics for long-term multicampus research initiatives,
- coordination of future fundraising efforts.