There are several recent developments in Buddhist Studies that should be of interest.
First is the announcement of an MA programme in Buddhist Studies at Newport University, Wales. This is a fully online course and is not entirely new, but rather is a continuance of Peter Harvey’s very successful programme at Sunderland University. Convened by Dr Nick Swann and with connections to academics in Hong Kong and Taiwan, this is sure to be a great opportunity for anyone interested in furthering their education in Buddhism. As it is part-time and distance-learning, it will hopefully attract both young scholars and mature individuals from around the world (as well as monastics seeking an academic understanding of Buddhism).
Next, a great resource for students of Buddhism has been made freely available thanks to the folks at UKABS (the UK Association of Buddhist Studies), the Buddhist Studies Review, in full, for the years 1983-2005. In it you’ll find a wealth of writing on Buddhism from the last 20+ years from many of the great scholars of the world.
And lastly, a bit closer to home for me, at yesterday’s annual UKABS meeting I managed to volunteer myself to help with some sort of online resource collection project for their website. Already the website has some wonderful resources of its own, including bibliographies of Buddhism in European counties and an index of Buddhist studies at universities in the UK.
In other happenings, I am very pleased to be wrapping up an amazing 30 days of intensive study, practice and cultural immersion, and travels. The Pali Summer School at Oxford with Prof. Richard Gombrich of the OCBS was by all accounts a great success. We received not only a valuable introduction to the Pali language, but also some time with the great man himself and various insights and ideas on Buddhism in general.
Perhaps just as important (friendship is the whole of the holy life), we were able to meet 15 fellow Pali enthusiasts (14 of us plus Prof Gombrich and his excellent assistant, Dr Tomoyuki Kono). As anyone who has ever tried knows well, studying a language alone is a terrible thing to do. So now we have at least a small community of fellow Pali students we can call on for support and inspiration as we make our way further into the language. For those of us who keep it up, there is the carrot dangling out there of having an intermediate/advanced course with the Professor sometime next summer.
And speaking of friendship and community, I was very happy to attend my first ever UKABS conference, held at SOAS in London yesterday. Two of the fellow Pali students were there, along with my advisor and my fellow Goldsmiths PhD student, Dave from Cheltenham, Margaret – a fellow Bristol alum – and several other familiar faces. And, with an eye to the coming year, I was most fortunate to meet Max (Massimo) and Pascale, two more Bristol Buddhist scholars. Over dinner (below) we hatched several schemes for both Pali studies and Buddhist academic discussion in general in the great city of Bristol.
And now, with that other eye on the future, I should get back to work on my thesis!