PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Buddhist Pedagogy Seminar

Statement of Purpose: 

The mission of the Buddhist Pedagogy Seminar is to promote critical reflection on how our teaching and presentation of Buddhism enhances understanding of Buddhist traditions, practices, and values. Our seminar will facilitate discussion and support research about pedagogically effective approaches to teaching Buddhism. We will focus on a variety of pedagogical challenges within the field over the course of five years, including but not limited to, the religious or secularized use of Buddhist meditation practices in everyday life, modern public understanding of Buddhism shaped through current events, hotly debated ethical issues, and scholarship about teaching Buddhism.

This seminar invites discussion about teaching Buddhism in today’s classroom, how Buddhism has been taught historically, how different media about Buddhism can supplement classroom instruction, and how insights from Buddhist traditions can enrich pedagogy in other fields. Although we envision the seminar appealing primarily to those in Buddhist Studies, we believe it will be beneficial for instructors and scholars outside of the field who teach about Buddhism in their courses.

We are committed to supporting important work in the nascent field of Buddhist pedagogy. Our goal is to grow this field and provide it with a robust arena in which scholars engage in dynamic conversations.

Call for Papers: 

We welcome papers on any aspect of Buddhist pedagogy. For our meeting this first year, we are particularly looking to engage with conversations concerning contemplative pedagogy in teaching Buddhism. Buddhist contemplative practices have been studied within a number of academic disciplines and applied in higher education. Moreover, there has been an increased interest in the applications of Buddhist derived meditation techniques in other professional fields, such as health care and the programs of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Cognitively-based Compassion Training (CBCT). However, there is little discussion about how the methodological framework of Buddhist contemplation is integrated into those secular settings and classrooms, or about how to develop best practice for use in those settings.

To remedy this lacuna, we solicit submissions that address the following aspects, though we welcome other related topics and inquiries:

● What are strategies for secularizing Buddhist contemplative techniques in higher education? In pedagogy, how can teachers secularize contemplative activities that will not violate students’ personal religious affiliations or spiritual pursuits?

● How is Buddhist contemplation pedagogy different from other programs, such as MBSR and CBCT?

● How do you challenge students from equating the Buddhist tradition with a singular technique, such as mindfulness (even though mindfulness has almost become its own subfield and has been appropriated to indicate a broad area of study)? How do you bring various Buddhist meditation techniques from different traditions to the classroom?

● How can we explore the various narratives concerning mindfulness and secular Buddhist techniques from the angle of pedagogy?

● How do we communicate to students the techniques of practicing “contemplation?” Or, Is actually practicing contemplation necessary for students to understand Buddhism? What kinds of projects and assignments can you assign students to complete that will help them understand what Buddhist “meditation” is and how it fits with in the religion as whole?

● How would Buddhist contemplative education stimulate interreligious dialogue? For example, are there parallels in pedagogical methods developed for teaching Western religions or other Asian religions?

● To what extent does teaching Buddhist contemplation cultivate students’ moral characters and enhance their emotional well-being? How can we help students measure the effect of such practices on their interactions with each other, their communities, and themselves?

● How can we work with psychologists and neuroscientists to develop data that scientifically illustrates the effects of secular Buddhist contemplation, used in a pedagogical setting, on practitioners?

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
ChairSteering Committee