Wings Of Jain Academic Education Over North America

Posted: 18.04.2016

http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/organisations/ISSJS/2016/clip_image002.jpgJainism is one of the oldest and 6th largest religions of the world.  More than 125,000 Jains, now live in USA and Canada. They have put in their strong roots here in the form of a national organization of all Jains (JAINA), many places of worship (more than 70) and a sizeable number of institutions and organizations (more than 100). A significant number of Jain youth is now studying in some of the top universities of USA and Canada.

Starting practically from ground zero, during the last 12 years, the Jain Community in North America (with the support of a few committed donors) has been striving to establish studies, teaching and research in Jainism at universities and colleges in North America. As a result some good progress has been achieved. Below is a very brief summary of some of the accomplishments.

International School for Jain Studies (www.isjs.in). Since its inception in 2005, nearly 600 faculty, scholars, Post-Docs, Graduate and undergraduate students and High School Teachers (from more than 25 universities and 10 countries) have gone to India during summers to learn about Jainism and ahimsa. This year alone a record setting number of 95 scholars from 6
countries will be going to do the same.

The unique feature of this program is that here India becomes the class room for all the students. There the participants have a chance to see, touch, taste, smell and experience living Jainism. The students experience Jain and Indian hospitality; see some beautiful sights, meet scores of saints/ascetics, scholars, Jain professionals, leaders and businessmen. They also have a chance to interact and exchange issues, items and knowledge of mutual interests with many.

In the class rooms, students are exposed to some broad aspects of Jain philosophy, history, culture and the society. By their going  to India, they have a chance to get an insider’s view of Jainism which could not be replicated in America or anywhere else in the world. What they learn, how they learn and where they learn makes the India experience unforgettable to most and also to all those they come in contact with. Another unique feature is that it is integrated within many university systems and as a result, quite a few students after return from this program actually earn credits from their home institutions.

Upon return from in India, with their newly acquired knowledge about Jainism, some of the scholars started offering classes in Jainism at their own Institutes and some other scholars pursued their studies further to earn PhDs,. As a result, nearly 14 scholars already completed their PhDs and that many more are in pipeline working for their PhDs

http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/organisations/ISSJS/2016/clip_image004.jpgJust recently, this school  organized 3 highly successful seminars at 3 prestigious universities in India on Jain practice of Santhara or  Sanlekhana (end of life the Jain way) in which more than 70 Indian and International experts participated.

The Jain School is also nearing completion of its massive research project in six volumes covering everything about Jainism from Antiquity to Society, Philosophy, Literature and languages, Material Culture and Relevance.

The school was also recently awarded a research contract by Govt. of India’s Indian Council on Philosophical Research for study and research on Jain Yoga.

Studies in Jainism at Universities in North America. As we started educating and training new and young faculty and scholars in Jainism, the Jain community and the academics started realizing the need for the permanent presence of Jain studies at many colleges and universities in North America.

Chairs in Jainism. The first funded Chair in Jainism was established by the Jain community at Florida International University in Miami Florida in 2009-10 timeframe. In August 2015, the Jain community established another Chair (Parshwanath Presidential Chair in Jainism) at the University of California at Irvine, California. In January 2016, Jain community also established Bhagwaan Mahavir Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Jain Studies at Rice University in Houston Texas.  

In addition currently we have Centers / programs for Jain Studies at several other universities. These include Emory University, Atlanta, GA, University of Texas in Austin, TX, University of North Texas in Denton, TX, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego State University San Diego, CA, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA etc.

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