For 12 years, the Science for Monks program has melded East and West, introducing science to over 200 Tibetan Buddhist monastics. But without the support of the learning community’s religious leaders, the monastics have limited opportunities to engage science. In 2011, with John Templeton Foundation support, the Exploratorium, in partnership with the Tibetan Library, piloted an initiative to involve the leaders who shape religious education, so that the monastic community itself can explore connections between their traditions and science. This proposal builds on that work by increasing the number of religious leaders involved, linking those leaders with junior monastics, and supporting Western science faculty to create enduring connections for future cross-cultural exchanges. The proposed 3-year project immerses each of 75 Tibetan Buddhist leaders (25 per year) in 150 hours (4 weeks) of science training and discourse with 10 US and 3 Indian scientists and educators, and supports religious leaders in collaborative projects with junior monastics who are leading science initiatives. In addition, each year the project will: 1) hold a 3-day public event to allow monastic graduates to participate in dialogue with scientists; 2) support partner institutions in facilitating discourse; and 3) produce video and written publications for dissemination, including an online learning portal that supports ongoing learning and engagement with science by the monastic graduates and their extended communities. On average, each monastic graduate will mentor about 50 monastics over time, so the project can eventually reach at least 3,750 monastics. The proposed project adds value to ongoing efforts to train younger, and the project is needed now because the Tibetan tradition is at a critical cross-roads. The project will build the community’s self-sustaining capacity for scientific exploration and enrich the education of its leaders.
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