Buddhist Networks of Education in Chinese History

Besides my research on education for Buddhist nuns in Taiwan (see Buddhist Women & Female Buddhism), I have researched the changes in Sangha education in mainland China from the beginning of the 20th century onwards, especially looking at parallels between changes in secular education and transformations in religious education, and at patterns of government intervention in setting new schools and new curricula for the Chinese Sangha.  See for instance my paper ‘Educational Policies for the Twentieth-century Chinese Sangha: Mapping Conceptualization and Structures of the New Buddhist Pedagogy’, presented at the 7th Annual Conference of the Social Scientific Study of Religion in China (26-27 July, 2010, Beijing, CHINA); ‘The Buddhist Discourse on Education in China: Theories and Structures’, invited talk at the University College of Cork (24 November, 2011, IRELAND).

I have presented the paper ‘And even Buddhist monks started taking science classes! Mapping innovations, controversies and negotiations in early twentieth-century Buddhist seminaries’, in the panel ‘The Impact of Biological Theories of Evolution on East Asian Buddhists Around the Early 20th Century’, presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (30 October – 1 November, 2010, Atlanta, USA); this paper researched the introduction of scientific subjects in the curricula of the new seminaries for the Chinese Sangha during the first Republican period.

I have been co-organiser and discussant of the panel ‘Chinese Buddhist Perspectives on Education: Transmission of Tradition and the Challenges of the Modernizing State,’ at the Association of Asian Studies Annual Meeting (15-18 March, 2012, Toronto, CANADA); the panel explored different levels of interaction between Chinese governments and Buddhist institutions in the education sector. In this panel I also presented the paper ‘The Political Accommodations of the Minnan Buddhist Institute: Theories and Practices of jiaoyu in a Sangha Context.’ A revised version of this paper has been published on the journal Review of Religion and Chinese Society.

I have organised the panel ‘Educating Religious Experts for the Nation: Institutions and Curricula for Christian, Han Buddhists and Daoist Specialists in Modern China’, at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in San Diego (22-25 November 2014). This panel analysed schools and training practices of Protestant Christianity, Han Buddhism and Daoism. The papers addressed the historical period that goes from “early modern” (late Qing) to “contemporary” (twenty-first century), and addressed the following questions: (1) what are the historical and political factors that decide the curricula? (2) How does the education mirror the new social role of the religions and religious experts? (3) Are there levels of conversation and mutual influence between the four religious traditions in the education sector?

I am participating in the research project Holmes Welch and the Study of Buddhism in Twentieth-Century China with my research on Buddhist education in modern China. I have presented a draft of my paper “The Old and the New in Buddhist Education: Assessing Agencies and Agendas in the Revival of Education for the Sangha” in the Holmes Welch Seminar at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in San Diego (22-25 November 2014).

Among my publications on the topic, see ‘Concepts and Institutions for a New Buddhist Education: Reforming the Sangha Between and Within State Agencies‘, in East Asian History, no.39, 2014, pp.88-101.

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