MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

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MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:17 pm

Interested in doing an MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan?
Full scholarships provided!! Full English or Chinese language programs.
Links below, or just ask for details... :)

http://buddhist.fguweb.fgu.edu.tw/front ... ategory=34
http://buddhist.fguweb.fgu.edu.tw/ezcat ... 201209.pdf
http://buddhist.fguweb.fgu.edu.tw/ezcat ... sGuide.pdf

~~ Huifeng
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:33 am

Some more details FYI:

The whole program is taught in English, two years, a total of 24 academic credits, plus another 6 credits for MA thesis. Our dept. has a full BA degree in Buddhist studies taught in Chinese (~ 100+ students), two streams for MA using English / Chinese (~50 students), and a PhD program taught bilingually (~4 students, just started up). While our Buddhist studies content is mainly forms of Chinese Buddhism (classical Chan, Pure Land, Tiantai, Huayan, etc. modern forms too), we also have faculty who specialize in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, so we try to cover the whole board. We have 9 full time faculty (all PhDs), and about 6 adjuncts (half PhDs half MAs).

There is no age restriction - this year in particular we've had a number of mature students join the program. In addition to the academic Buddhist studies side of things, we also have practicum classes, and the whole living arrangement is kind of half university half monastery. Our students are mostly lay students, though in the post-graduate programs, about 40% are monastic. Different monastic traditions are all welcome, in the last few years we've had a number of Vietnamese monastics. Chinese Buddhism doesn't make a distinction of ordination by a tradition, ordination is ordination, whatever tradition. The boundaries of various schools are not anywhere near as hard and edgy in China / Taiwan than they are in Japan or Japanese derived traditions. Having said that, Fo Guang Shan monastery does carry the Linji lineage, but please don't read "so it's like Japanese Rinzai" into that. FGS monastery is the founder of FGUni, but FGS HQ is down in Taiwan SW, whereas FGU is up in Taiwan NE. They are separate and distinct organizations, though strongly connected. The whole university has about 3,500 students, across four colleges with a total of 15 departments. Mainly we're a liberal arts type university, with a Buddhist flavor.

FGU is fully accredited with the Taiwan Ministry of Education (in fact, our present FGU Pres is the former Minister of Education!) Degrees from FGU should be accepted in the USA, though I also have heard that some places in the USA still have their own university specific list of places that they accept or do not. I can't see any reason why it wouldn't be, however. John Plass, former Woodenfish participant and staff, went from his BA in psychology at UCSB to MA in Buddhist studies at FGU, and has recently just started a PhD in psych at North Western in Chicago.

While the deadline is soon, even if you are a little late, please try to send it to us. You may be better off sending it to the Buddhist studies dept first, we can help you make sure that all your information is correct, before bundling it up to pass over to the enrollments people. Even sending late is better than not sending at all, we'll try to work around that.

While the academic year starts in mid-Sept, it is possible to either (a) jump in at the second semester in early Feb, or (b) come along as a "course credit" but not fully enrolled student, later directing the course credits you've taken to the degree program when you fully enroll. These two options are not 100% ideal, but the difference in the end is negligible, and a number of students do this. Just like any university, our programs are offered yearly. Best to enroll at the formal and proper time, but jump in where you can.

There are scholarships! We have scholarships of NT$50,000 per semester for students at Buddhist studies, which covers your basic tuition / fees. Then there's another smaller scholarship which covers board and meals at the Buddhist studies women's (or men's) dormitories. All Buddhist studies students are expected to live at the Dept. dormitories. The living arrangements include morning meditation (wake up at 06:30) and evening chanting, shared cleaning and cooking duties (MA students in 1st yr help cook for 2 meals and clean up for 2 meals per week).

Knowing Mandarin would obviously be very helpful, because this is Taiwan after all! However, for the MA (English) program in Buddhist studies, all classes are taught in English, likewise papers and thesis all done in English. Most of the faculty are also English fluent. There are some things outside of the dept in FGU as a whole that are still not 100% up to speed on this, but we are already familiar with this, so have people to help through the tricky bits. So, don't worry!

For the MA program, at least some formal training in a Buddhist canonical language is required. But, if you haven't done it before, you can do makeup while you're doing the MA. The Chinese speaking MA students sit in on the undergrad Sanskrit, Pali and / or Tibetan classes (as the BA program is taught in Chinese). For the non-Chinese speakers, we have a special course taught in English for Classical Buddhist Chinese. That will appear on your academic transcript. We also have another, less formal, Mandarin class, which won't appear on your transcript, but we're trying to see if we can get it more formal at this point.

We've had up to this point a number of non-Chinese speakers, mainly Western students, who have managed to go through the whole program just fine. It's a challenge, yes, but a lot is learned through that, especially stuff that one wouldn't learn if one did a program in the US, Canada, or Europe, etc. The full immersion in the local Buddhist culture is very important.

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Alfredo » Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:12 am

All Buddhist studies students are expected to live at the Dept. dormitories. The living arrangements include morning meditation (wake up at 06:30) and evening chanting, shared cleaning and cooking duties (MA students in 1st yr help cook for 2 meals and clean up for 2 meals per week).


What if they are married, or living together?

What if they belong to some other religion, or a different Buddhist sect?

What about people who follow different diets?
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby sherabzangpo » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:20 pm

Is the PhD program only residential, as in you have to live on campus? I'm not really interested in a monastic lifestyle. I am however interested in the program as a whole, although I might not be starting until after April 2016 (gotta finish my masters first).

If you have information about any other Taiwanese PhD programs in Buddhist Studies in English, let me know.
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Taiwan is high on my list.

E
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:54 am

Thanks for your interest! :smile:

Alfredo wrote:
All Buddhist studies students are expected to live at the Dept. dormitories. The living arrangements include morning meditation (wake up at 06:30) and evening chanting, shared cleaning and cooking duties (MA students in 1st yr help cook for 2 meals and clean up for 2 meals per week).


What if they are married, or living together?


There's always room for discussion. There are a few students in this situation, who live elsewhere.

What if they belong to some other religion, or a different Buddhist sect?


Why would belonging to some other religion be a problem?
We have students whose own practice is Theravadin, Tibetan, various Chinese forms, etc.
Since we're not really any particular sect to start with, that's not a problem either.

What about people who follow different diets?


No problem. If they don't want to eat at the dorms, they can eat elsewhere. The campus as a whole has now two vegetarian cafetarias, and a couple of non-vegetarian options. Plenty more down the mountainside in Jiaoxi, too, of both persuasions.

The above posted material is just the usual situation. But, pretty much any situation can be put on the table for discussion.

Thanks for your interest!

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:59 am

sherabzangpo wrote:Is the PhD program only residential, as in you have to live on campus? I'm not really interested in a monastic lifestyle. I am however interested in the program as a whole, although I might not be starting until after April 2016 (gotta finish my masters first).

If you have information about any other Taiwanese PhD programs in Buddhist Studies in English, let me know.
emptyelephant@yahoo.com

Taiwan is high on my list.

E


Hi Sherabzangpo! :smile:

As above, while residential is the most common situation, it is not the only possibility.

Fo Guang University is a university, not a monastery. While the Buddhist studies dorms (but not the other dorms) have a practicum element as mentioned above, it is not a monastery standard at all.

As far as I know, there are no other similar university programs in Taiwan that use English as the language medium. That includes Dharma Drum, Huafan, Xuan Zang, NTU, Cheng Chi, or elsewhere. There are some Buddhist college / seminary type programs (Foxue yuan) that may have some room for English, but not much.

Even for the option of learning Mandarin to study at these other programs, it will take some time to get the language up to speed. Maybe 3+ years, and even then, it will be tough. (Based on my own, and friends' experiences.)

But, finish that Masters first!! :twothumbsup:

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Yuren » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:33 am

Thanks for sharing information about this wonderful opportunity, Huifeng.
I sent you an E-mail with some further questions, I hope you don't mind.
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:10 am

Yuren wrote:Thanks for sharing information about this wonderful opportunity, Huifeng.
I sent you an E-mail with some further questions, I hope you don't mind.


Hi,

I replied to the email. Did you receive it okay?
(I'm not sure how the email from DW works when replying.)

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:31 am

Sounds like a great place! Something I should have investigated!

Hindsight is always 20/20.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:11 am

JKhedrup wrote:Sounds like a great place! Something I should have investigated!

Hindsight is always 20/20.


Alas, dear brother, when you were in Taiwan many years ago, we didn't have the program up and running. Otherwise that would have been the first option, I assure you! :smile:

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:52 pm

How autonomous is FG University in respect to the sangha and administrative wings of FGS? Does FG University administer itself and not answer to FGS HQ? Is criticism of FGS tolerated in the university?

The reason I ask is because some have asked what I think of studying under FGS, but I'm not clear on how the university operates in respect to the overarching administration.
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:12 pm

FGU is an accredited university and so would answer to its own board and the Ministry of Education, I think. It seems FGS is aiming to establish a credible academic institution, not a branch of the monastery. To this end they are establishing academic exchanges with other universities:
http://www.fgu.edu.tw/newpage/fgupageen ... diaytype=1
During the initial phase, emphasis was on graduate education, with undergraduate and Internet education, correspondence education and instruction of students from overseas to gradually be developed from 2002 onward. Currently, the university has signed student exchange programs with academic research institutions in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:18 am

Being accredited in Taiwan doesn't mean much unfortunately. Academic standards are not so high, as is the case in China, too, it seems.
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:27 am

Well, we've placed students from our MA program in PhD programs in Buddhist Studies at Tokyo University, and also Psychology at North Western University in Chicago. So, people from these places obviously think that the education is worth something.

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:29 am

The university answers to the Board, and runs under the usual Ministry of Education requirements for a university. Students and faculty answer to the Head of Dept of Buddhist Studies and then the Dean, as well as Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, etc. for the University. Just like any other university. Scholarships for Buddhist studies are available from FGS, however. Up to the student whether or not they want it.

If one wishes to be more closely involved with the FGS system, then joining the Buddhist College at the main HQ would be the thing to do. But that is not what FGUniversity is about. Its a university.

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:32 am

So, would someone be able to criticize FGS in writing and not suffer a blowback?
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:07 am

Huifeng wrote:If one wishes to be more closely involved with the FGS system, then joining the Buddhist College at the main HQ would be the thing to do. But that is not what FGUniversity is about. Its a university.


I understand that, but what I'm asking is if you have academic freedom at FG University?
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Huifeng » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:15 am

Probably about the same as at Huafan, DDU, Xuan Zang, ... or equivalents elsewhere, I suppose. There is no way to enforce any kind of doctrinal or sectarian orthodoxy / orthopraxy under the present Taiwanese laws for such university departments. One can also see the faculty and courses offered to get an idea of what we do here.

Like anything in Buddhist studies, if one can back up one's position with sound argument, appropriate use of source material and so forth, then say what you like. If other scholars disagree, they'll also need to provide their own sound arguments and so forth for their position. The usual run of the mill...

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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:24 am

That doesn't answer my question though: would someone be able to criticize FGS in writing and not suffer a blowback?

Like, for example, document the dodgy narrative about a "Buddha tooth" as acquired by Ven. Xingyun and investigate the reasons behind such a project. Would that level of provocative writing be tolerated there?
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Re: MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University in Taiwan

Postby Indrajala » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:54 pm

Incidentally, you can read the relevant part concerning the Buddha tooth in Changing Minds: Contributions to the Study of Buddhism and Tibet in Honor of Jeffrey Hopkins on Google Books from page 31 here.

The dodgy narrative about a Buddha tooth on the part of FGS needs to be considered when evaluating the standards and behaviour of FGS as a major Buddhist organization.
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