Meet Emory's newest professor: The Dalai Lama

by Erin Curran, Daily Orange, Nov 5, 2007

Leader of exiled Tibetans, Nobel Peace Laureate will sponsor religious science program, give lectures in new partnership

Emory, Georgia (USA) -- One faculty member in Georgia will not only be referred to as professor, but as "His Holiness."

The XIV Dalai Lama has been named Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, the first university appointment accepted by the 1989 Nobel Peace Laureate and leader of the Tibetan exile community.

The Dalai Lama, who has examined the interface between science and spirituality, was appointed as part of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, which brings together the best of Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions.

One of the most ambitious undertakings of this partnership is an initiative to develop and implement a broad science education curriculum for Tibetan monks.

"Our science faculty will write a college-level curriculum to educate Tibetan monks about Western science - something to which they have not had a lot of experience," said Janice Love, dean and professor of Christianity and world politics at Emory's Candler School of Theology. "Tibetan monks will teach our science faculty about the benefits of contemplative traditions like meditation and how they can prove useful in the treatment of depression," she said.

Emory is recognized as one of the leading centers for the study of Tibetan philosophy and religion in the United States, due to the university's close relationship with Tibetan Buddhist institutes of higher learning in India. Some of its affiliates include the Drepung Loseling Monastery and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile.

"While His Holiness isn't teaching courses at the university, he will provide private teaching sessions with about 20 students during the study abroad program in Dharamsala," said Gary Hauk, vice president and deputy to the president at Emory University. "He's also coming to campus regularly to interact with students and faculty through lectures and conferences."

The Dalai Lama spearheaded the first ever Emory Summit on Religion, Conflict and Peace building in October, encouraging the religions of the world to work together to reduce violent conflict and build peaceful, pluralistic societies.

During the conference, he was featured on stage with religious leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, including Rabbi David Rosen, Sister Joan Chittister, professor Rajmohan Gandhi and professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im.

"The conference centered on basic Buddhist teachings about the integration of reality - the idea that lots of things are related to one another generally," Love said.

In September 2006, Congress passed a bill to award the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the nation, for his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue through dialogue with Chinese leadership.