The study of Buddhism enjoys a long tradition at the University of Chicago, engaging students and faculty from the Divinity School and several Departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences. (For a list of faculty whose work centrally involves Buddhism, see here.) The excellence of work at Chicago in the history, religions, and literatures of South and East Asia provides a rich contextual framework for in-depth consideration of particular developments in the Buddhist world, and the University’s strong commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship broadens the horizons for work in the area. Thus, while there is not (as at some institutions) an official degree-granting program called “Buddhist Studies,” a recent study found that Chicago had produced the greatest number of Buddhist studies scholars holding positions at North American colleges and universities.
Programs in which graduate study relating to Buddhism may be undertaken include those of the departments of Anthropology, Art History, History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations (EALC), and South Asian Languages and Civilizations (SALC), in addition to the many doctoral programs in the Divinity School in which it is possible to study topics in Buddhist studies (especially those in History of Religions and Philosophy of Religions). Other Departments have also at times hosted research relating to Buddhism, including Music and Comparative Human Development. For those pursuing studies in Buddhism under the aegis of any of these programs, there is the possibility of advanced study in many major Buddhist linguistic and textual traditions, with the University regularly offering courses in the Buddhist languages of East Asia (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), and of South Asia (Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan). Work in such textual traditions is well supported by the University’s outstanding library collections pertaining to these and other languages.
Historically strong in many of the various fields of Buddhist studies, the University is presently home to a mix of both younger and established faculty, and thus figures to be a center of gravity in these fields for a long time to come. Current faculty for whom Buddhism is a major point of focus are Dan Arnold (in the Divinity School’s Philosophy of Religions program); Paul Copp (in the department of EALC); Matthew Kapstein (in the Divinity School’s programs in History of Religions and Philosophy of Religions); James Ketelaar (in the departments of History, EALC, and Divinity); Katherine Tsiang (in the department of Art History); Christian Wedemeyer (in the Divinity School’s History of Religions program); Wei-Cheng Lin (in the department of Art History); Wu Hung (in the department of Art History); Brook Ziporyn (in the Divinity School’s Philosophy of Religions program).
The range of work encouraged in the University’s various programs relating to Buddhist studies is reflected in recent faculty publications, as well as in coursework offered in the various departments and programs that foster Buddhist studies at Chicago. Chicago’s breadth and depth in the fields of Buddhist studies is also reflected in the wide-ranging work of generations of alumni.
Members of the University of Chicago community who would like to be apprised about Buddhist studies events may sign up for the University’s Buddhist Studies Listserv.