Apr 8, 2013

Changing Face of Jain Academic Education

Changing Face of Jain Academic Education

About 10 years ago, prior to the start of  the International School for Jain studies (ISJS), there were probably  no more than 2 dozen Jain academics in the West and the academic studies in Jainism in the  universities around the world were seriously lagging behind rest of the other dharma traditions. Fortunately within a span of last 8 years, we feel the scene of Jain academic education has started changing. This was not the case before.

Several factors account for this change. One of them is the creation of International School for Jain studies and its program International Summer School for Jain Studies (ISSJS). Other factors are the increased interest in the West on India, its culture philosophies (Jain dharma is a significant component), commerce and tourism  and also the increased awareness within the Jain community in India as well as here in North America to encourage and support Jain related academic activities.     

This  brief report outlines the changing scenario. We have started turning the wheel but we must continue this journey with faster speed for Jain Dharma to occupy an equal presence in the academia.

Training and creation  of Young Jain Scholars. We all know that Jain dharma studies cannot grow and flourish without the availability of Jain scholars and academics. Till 6 years ago, we could count the number  of Jain  scholars in the West on our finger tips but we feel the situation will be different soon. Let us share some of our observations;

a)    NEW Ph.Ds.  As of this writing, we have counted at least eleven (11) new Ph.Ds. ( or soon to be Ph.Ds.)  in Jain Dharma and  its related subjects. Out of this at least 7 of them are ISJS alumni.  * shows ISJS alumnus. They are;  Steven Voss, (U Penn), Dipti Khera   (U of Chicago), Audrey Truschke (Columbia U),  Nawaraj Chaulagain (Harvard), *Arianne Eroy (California Institute of Integral Studies),  *Brianne Donaldson (CLU), * Nathan Loewen (McGill), *Pankaj Jain (U of Iowa),  *Andréa Jain (Rice University), *Bradley Boileau (U of Ottawa) ,   *Mathieu E. Courville (U of Ottawa) *

b) Ph.Ds. in Pipeline:  Due  to the  support, environment and   interest created   by ISJS and  several others, we feel as many as 19  scholars are  currently pursuing and working for their Ph.Ds. right now. Here again, nearly 90 % of them  are ISJS alumni.  *Ellen Gough (Yale), *Lynna Dhanani (Yale) , *Tim Helton (Drew),  *Smitha Kothari (U of Toronto) , *Sarah Hadmack (U of Hawaii) , *Whitney Braun (CGU) , *Christopher Handy (U of Texas?) ,  *Aimee Hamilton ( Indiana University) , *Dr Nomnian at Mahidol Bangkok , *Prasong now studying in USA (Ph.D from Bangkok), * Josef Bartosek in Prague, *Anna Bazlez in Slovenia, *Knut Aukland at Oslo , *Kate Kragh at Leiden Holland,  *C. Fleming (spent one year with ISJS as Fulbright scholar) is currently studying for Ph.D. in Jainism at Harvard, at least 2-3 students working at CLU/CST, and other places in Canada and Samani Pratibha Pragya (SOAS).

c) ISJS ALUMNI: during the last 8 years, 320 students and faculty (from more than 25 universities  and twelve  countries) have attended ISSJS classes in India and in Bangkok, Thailand.  As a result of the ISSJS program, not all but quite a few of the ISSJS alumni faculty  have started offering courses  in Jain Dharma  at their institutions and several   graduate students are now   associated in Jain studies .

d)    Ph.Ds. (in last 5-15 years) engaged in Jain studies.  Prof.  Jeffery Long (Elizabethtown College), *Dr.  John Casey (at Loyola Marymount U), *Prof. Christian Haskett (Utah State University),  * Prof. Natalia Zheleznova (Moscow State U, Moscow, Russia) *, Dr. Nachiket Chanchani  is presently a Fellow at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Art Galleries. He was recently selected as the newest faculty in South-Asian Studies at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). He has (& continues to) researched Jain scriptures and ancient Jain temple sites in India. Nachiket has expressed strong interest in establishing a Jain studies program at the University of Michigan once he joins full time in about 10 months.

JAIN STUDIES  COURSE OFFERINGS NOW; We do not have a current list  but we feel several universities and colleges  in USA and Canada either offer a standalone course in Jain Dharma  or as part of the world Religions courses. At least 3000 students are attending these courses  in Jainism each year  at various universities. These institutions include ;

Loyola Marymount U ( LA), Claremont Lincoln U ( Claremont, CA), Florida International University ( Miami, FL), Elizabethtown College ( Elizabethtown, PA), Eastern Connecticut State U ( Willimantic, CT), University  of Wisconsin, University of North Texas at Denton,  University of Hawaii and Windward Community college ( Honolulu, HI),  Virginia Commonwealth University  (  Richmond, VA), University of Wisconsin, North Eastern University, Yale University, Rutgers university ,  University of Ottawa ( Ottawa , Canada), Vanier College ( Montreal, Canada ), Charles University ( Prague, Czech Republic) , University of London , SOAS, at Freie University in Germany ( Mr. Patrick  Krueger)  and a few more.

CENTER FOR JAIN STUDIES ( CJS)  AT CLAREMONT LINCOLN UNIVERSITY; in collaboration with ISJS, JAINA and Jain Center of Southern California (JCSC), a center for Jain studies was established on October 8, 2012.  This center is most active and  comprehensive and  currently offers or plans to offer the following programs;

Two  graduate level courses every year  in Jain dharma  and applied dharma ( one in each semester) , one yearly  international seminar on  Applied Jain Dharma, one summer camp in Jain dharma  for Jain youths, annual VR Gandhi lecture, full one day Ahimsa Day celebrations  ( on October 2nd), Ahimsa award ( to a person of repute), one research project (Ahimsa in the Face of Disaster: Jain Responses to the Partition of India in 1947") and uploading of Jain  course material on  CLU web site and selection of candidates for ISSJS-2013 class in India


FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY; About 2 years ago, a funded Jain chair ( the first in North America)  “Bhagwan Mahavir Chair “was established at FIU. This university now offers regular courses and some programs in Jain dharma.

CONCERNS;  We realize that there are not that many jobs open in the academia in Jain studies. Jain community should now think of supporting the existing centers and  establishing several new  centers for Jain studies and research so that the new Jain Scholars can find meaningful employment and remain engaged in Jain studies.  But wherever the currently available  people get hired, they will do research, write, teach and promote Jain studies.

Good to see this change. Few years ago, we all said that there is an acute shortage of Jain scholars. Hopefully, that may be changing. Let us keep it up.

Sulekh C. Jain, PhD                  Dilip V. Shah                      Nitin Shah, MD
Houston, Texas, USA              Philadelphia, PA                  Los Angeles , CA

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Madam, dear Sir,
We would like to inform you that Mrs Kragh is currently not a PhD candidate at Leiden University.

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