In 2001, following a directive from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Science for Monks program began to transform the exiled monastics’ education system to include science. With the support of the John Templeton Foundation, those early efforts were deepened to include the engagement of 100 religious teacher-leaders through multi-week institutes led by 30 Western scientists, and multi-day dialogues that reached thousands in the Tibetan Buddhist and international communities.
In 2013, we supported the launch of the first large, two-room science center at Sera Jey Monastery that now serves as a year-round home for science engagement. Today, six additional monasteries in the Gelug Buddhist tradition are paying for the construction of new, and sometimes much larger, science centers. This proposed project expands the activities of these centers, ties them into a network, and engages new monastic leaders who can extend the fledgling network of science centers to other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Center activities are designed to increase capacity and thereby increase prospects for long-term sustainability.
The proposed project will: (1) Train and mentor thirty five science center leaders each year through a 75-hour (2-week) institute, site visits, and video conferencing; (2) Model activities including scientific inquiry, community exhibitions, and public dialogues, and create a Scientist-in-Residence program to support the work of the centers; (3) Immerse ninety (30 per year) new monastic graduate-leaders (especially nuns and non-Gelugpa monks) who shape religious education in 150 hours (4 weeks) of training and a three-day public discourse; (4) Create a $125,000 grant program for the science centers to extend their development and impact; (5) Expand online learning; and (6) Disseminate findings through online and print publications. The proposed project also coincides with the launch of Science for Monks as a 501(c)(3) dedicated to sustaining this work.