2020 International and Intensive Program on Buddhism at McMaster University

2020 Tianzhu International & Intensive Program on Buddhism

(August 1-13, 2020; McMaster University & University of Toronto, Canada)

The Tianzhu Global Network for the Study of Buddhist Cultures, whose founding members include UBC, Ghent University, Harvard, INALCO, McMaster, and UC Berkeley, with support from the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, cordially invites applications for an intensive program on Buddhist Studies. Lasting from August 1 to August 13, 2020, this program is composed of two segments: Segment 1 from August 1 to August 5 and Segment 2 from August 7 to August 12, which are connected by an intersegmental student forum for young scholars on August 6.

The backbone of this program consists of four seminars delivered by international scholars. Each seminar combines close reading of primary sources (non-Chinese primary sources may be accompanied by English translations), lectures on the implications of these sources, and guided presentations from participating students on their research, which could be their term papers, or thesis chapters. The instructors for this year’s intensive program include, alphabetically:

  • CHEN Jinhua (UBC): Nets Without Ties: Buddhism-related Networks in East Asia (Segment 1)
  • Shayne CLARKE (McMaster University): Buddhist Monastic Law Codes (Vinaya) and Commentaries from India to China (Segment 1)
  • JI Zhe (CEIB): Buddhism and State in Modern and Contemporary China (Segment 2)
  • Monika ZIN (Leipzig University): Buddhism on the Northern Silk Road as Mirrored in Art (Segment 2)

The program also supports a series of occasional lectures, to be delivered by top scholars based in North America. Confirmed speakers include the following four scholars:

  • Mikael BAUER (McGill): Lineage and Ritual: Buddhism and state in Classical and Medieval Japan
  • Frances GARRETT (U of Toronto): Healing Mountains and Hidden Lands in Himalayan Histories
  • Amanda GOODMAN (U of Toronto): Further Reflections on the Chan-Tantra Connection: Updates from Dunhuang
  • Robert SHARF (UC Berkeley) : Buddhist Theories of Time

In addition to participating in these seminars, lectures and the intersegmental forum, student participants will conduct field trips in Toronto to gain firsthand experience of famed religious and cultural material. They are also encouraged to present their research papers to their program instructors, lecturers, and their peer participants at the Student Forum. Outstanding students may be selected and invited to carry out short-term (3-12 months long) research at UBC and UBC’s partner universities in East Asia, Europe and North America that are linked together through a large SSHRC-sponsored international and interdisciplinary project on Buddhism and East Asian Religions (frogbear.org). This may further bring them the opportunity of pursuing doctoral degrees or doing postdoctoral research at these top universities.

Participants are required to take part in all of the activities supported by the program, including the lecture series, student forum and field trips. Senior undergraduate students and graduate students specializing in any Buddhist tradition(s), and postdoctoral fellows working on relevant fields, are encouraged to apply. Please direct applications and inquiries to FrogBear.Project@ubc.ca. Please submit applications before April 30, 2020. Each application should include (1) an application form (to be provided upon request via the above email address), (2) updated curriculum vitae, (3) one writing sample, and (4) a reference letter (to be emailed by the referee directly to the above email address). Priority will be given to those applicants who are able to participate in both segments, although applications may also be considered from applicants who can only take part in one segment due to compelling reasons.

To guarantee sufficient interaction of student participants with instructors and between student participants themselves, student enrollment is limited to 30. In addition to being exempted from all tuition and administration fees, a successful candidate may receive a subsidy ranging from CAD$1,000-1,500 (depending on his or her individual needs and the distance s/he has to travel for the program) that will help defray program-related expenses, including lodging, meals, and transportation.


I. Segment 1 (August 1 – 5)

  1. August 1: arrival
  2. August 2-5: Seminars

II. Intersegmental Student Forum (August 6)

  1. August 6: Student Forum

III.   Segment 2 (August 7-13)

  1. August 7-10: Seminars
  2. August 11: Occasional Lectures at the University of Toronto
  3. August 12:  Tour (Toronto)
  4. August 13: Departure