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Buddhist Studies: National University of Singapore Establishes New Visiting Professorship

Heng Boey Hong, chair of the Mee Toh Foundation Education Sub-Committee, fifth from left, and Prof. Qu Hsueh Ming, head of the FASS Department of Philosophy, sixth from left, hold signed agreements for the Mee Toh Foundation Visiting Professorship in Buddhist Studies. Flanking them are FASS and Mee Toh Foundation representatives. From

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has announced a new opportunity to foster interdisciplinary research in Buddhist studies with the establishment of the Mee Toh Foundation Visiting Professorship in Buddhist Studies. 

The Visiting Professorship, aimed at further nurturing Buddhist studies research and teachings, has been enabled through funding of S$500,000 (US$372,000) from the Mee Toh Foundation.

“The gift will enable the establishment of the Mee Toh Foundation Visiting Professorship in Buddhist Studies, augmenting FASS’ Buddhist studies offerings with fresh perspectives on the history, philosophy, art, and literature of Buddhism,” NUS said in an announcement shared with BDG. “To be administered over the course of five years from 2024 by the Department of Philosophy at FASS, the new Visiting Professorship will be awarded annually to a distinguished Buddhist studies academic/expert who will teach undergraduate courses, spearhead research endeavors and deliver public lectures related to the field.” (NUS News)

The Mee Toh Foundation is a registered charity focused on supporting charitable organizations within Singapore’s multi-religious community, with a focus on Buddhist communities and organizations. The foundation also works to help those in need, including the underprivileged, to propagate the Buddhist teachings, as well as supporting to three Buddhist schools in Singapore.

“Our Foundation traces its roots to Venerable Sek Kong Hiap, who started Mee Toh School because of his dedication to the cause of education,” said Mee Toh Foundation chair Ong Pang Boon. “We are delighted to work with NUS to promote a deeper understanding of Buddhism and Buddhist studies among Singaporeans.” (NUS News)

The university said the search for the first Visiting Professor would commence soon, noting that areas of academic focus could include Buddhist philosophy, history, and literature, in order to foster a comprehensive exploration of the field of Buddhist studies.

“The establishment of the Mee Toh Foundation Visiting Professorship in Buddhist Studies underscores our commitment to academic excellence and the cultivation of cross-cultural awareness,” said Prof. Qu Hsueh Ming, head of the FASS Department of Philosophy. “Buddhist Studies holds the potential to encourage more academic discourse by offering fresh outlooks not only in the area of philosophy, but also in religion, history, philosophy, art, and literature. By embracing these perspectives, interdisciplinary research flourishes, enriching our comprehension of various fields of knowledge.” (NUS News)

“I am heartened to witness the growth of a small yet steady Buddhist studies initiative at NUS,” Asst. Prof. Jack Meng-Tat Chia of the FASS’s Department of History told BDG. “I hope that more Buddhist organizations and individuals will come forward to support our efforts in expanding the academic study of Buddhism here in Singapore.”

Singapore is a multicultural island state in Southeast Asia with a population of almost six million people. More than 31 per cent of Singaporeans identify as Buddhists, according to census data for 2020. Christians make up 18.9 per cent of the population and Muslims account for 15.6 per cent. Daoism and other Chinese religions make up 8.8 per cent, Hinduism 5 per cent, and Sikhism and other religions 0.6 per cent. About 20 per cent of Singaporean profess no religious affiliation.

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NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences establishes Buddhist Studies Visiting Professorship to foster interdisciplinary research in Buddhist studies (NUS News)

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