The keynote speech will be given at 9:15 a.m. by Rita Gross, professor emeritus of religion at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and author of ?Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis and Reconstruction of Buddhism.? During her address, Gross will tackle issues such as where the early visions of feminism went wrong and how Buddhist practice and thought can help people.
Gross is excited about the conference. ?[It] promises to be an interesting day,? she said. ?There?s a strong program. ?It?s the first time in the Midwest; people don?t have to travel a great distance. Generally it?s been in California, Colorado, or the East Coast. People should take advantage of it and attend,? said Gross.
When asked if she faces any resistance over combining feminism and theology Gross replied that it ?depends on how conservative people are.?
There are 13 workshops for participants to attend during the conference covering topics such as interfaith dialogue, anger, leadership, activism, haiku and yoga. From 1 to 2:30 p.m., there will be a panel discussion featuring Khenmo Drolma, abbess of Vajra Dakini Nunnery in Vermont, the Venerable Sudhamma Bhikkhuni, abbess of the Carolina Buddhist Vihara in North Carolina, and the Rev. Kyoki Roberts, director of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh. The conference concludes with a closing ceremony at 4:30 p.m.
The conference?s schedule, brief biographies of the panel members, a complete list of workshops, links to relevant Buddhist Web sites, and information regarding the Buddhist Council of The Midwest can be found at www.dharmawomen.org.
The conference is jointly sponsored by the Buddhist Council of the Midwest and
DePaul University?s departments of philosophy and religious studies, the University Ministry, Women?s Center and Women?s and Gender Studies Program.
Dr. Mary Jane Larrabee, of the philosophy department, Mary Amico, administrative assistant for the philosophy department, and the workers in conference services and catering coordinated site preparations.
Larrabee hopes the conference will become an annual conference. ?We hope to hold another conference, but it is not yet clear what the reception for this year?s conference will be and how that will have an impact on a second conference in terms of timing, size, accessibility, etc.,? she said.
Planning for the conference began in fall when Larrabee was contacted to see if DePaul could provide a space for the conference. Funding for the conference will arise primarily from ticket sales, with the Buddhist Council of the Midwest agreeing to subsidize the conference in case of a shortfall.
Erfan Memon, a senior secondary education student, is interested in attending the conference but echoes the concern of many students regarding ticket prices. He said, ?It sounds fascinating, and I would love to go. But I can?t spend $40 or afford not to work on Saturday.?
Initially Larrabee hoped for a student cost that only covered the cost of lunch and refreshments but said the budget could not handle that.
Anyone interested in attending can register at www.dharmawomen.org. Registration is $80 and includes lunch, if participants register before March 10. Students and clergy receive a discount and can register for $40.