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Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery Funds Buddhist Studies Scholarships, Fellowships at National University of Singapore

From left: Ven. Ming Yi, Dr. See, and Assoc. Prof. Loy at the presentation ceremony. Image courtesy of NUS

Foo Hai Ch’an, a Buddhist monastery in Singapore, has presented funding of US$800,000 to the National University of Singapore (NUS) to support graduate research candidates who focus on Buddhist studies.

Venerable Ming Yi, abbot of Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery, and monastery chairman Dr. Aaron See presented a check to Associate Professor Loy Hui Chieh, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences vice-dean of External Relations and Student Life, in a ceremony on 28 June. Scholarships provided by the funding will be tenable for up to two years for master’s degree candidates and up to four years for PhD candidates.

“I’m very happy to share that the National University of Singapore has received a gift of S$1.125 million [US$806,000] from Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery to support a faculty fellowship and graduate scholarships in Buddhist studies at NUS’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences,” Jack Meng-Tat Chia, assistant professor in the Department of History, told BDG. “This gift will be used to create an endowed faculty fellowship—the first to be established for the discipline in Singapore—for a faculty member to undertake research on and teach modules in Buddhist studies. The gift will also be used to award scholarships to FASS graduate research candidates who focus on Buddhist studies.”

The profile of Buddhism studies has grown in recent years, with a number of top universities—among them, Columbia University, the University of Oxford, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan—establishing Buddhist studies scholarships and academic centers, as well as professorships and fellowships.

“Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery had donated S$200,000 [US$143,000] to establish the Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery Bursary last year, and we wanted to continue to see how we could support NUS,” said Ven. Ming Yi. “We are glad to work together with NUS to further Buddhist studies, and to support the endowed fund for fellowships in Buddhist studies as well as the endowed fund for graduate scholarships in Buddhist studies.” (NUSnews)

Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery (Ch: 福海禪寺) was founded in 1935 by Venerable Hong Zong of Taiwan, who traveled to Singapore to propagate the Buddhist teaching. The monastery, which actively supports education, charity, and culture, is also home to a descendent of the sacred Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. The sapling—grown from a cutting from the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, itself grown from a cutting off of the original UNESCO World Heritage Site Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya—was presented to the monastery by the visiting president of Sri Lanka. The top floor of the main temple building houses sacred Buddha relics.

Asst. Prof. Chia with Ven. Ming Yi. Image courtesy of NUS

“The Buddha taught that generosity is the first of the six paramitas or perfections,” said Prof.  Chia, speaking during the presentation ceremony at NUS. “I am grateful to the leaders of Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery for their generosity and far-sightedness in offering a gift to support Buddhist studies education and research at NUS. Perhaps unknown to many Singaporeans, the Buddhist studies program taught in leading universities around the world is a secular interdisciplinary program dedicated to both the academic study and public understanding of the Buddhist tradition. Students of Buddhist Studies are taught critical analysis and scholarly research on various aspects of Buddhism, such as art, history, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. . . . 

“I am confident that the generous support from Foo Hai will help develop NUS into a hub for Buddhist studies in the region. It will also complement the existing research strength of NUS in the wider field of Asian studies.”

Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery. From

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. Christianity is represented by 18.9 per cent, Islam 15.6 per cent, Daoism and other Chinese religions 8.8 per cent, Hinduism 5 per cent, and Sikhism and other religions 0.6 per cent. About 20 per cent of Singaporean have no religious affiliation.

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NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences establishes Buddhist Studies scholarships and fellowships with gift from Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery (NUSnews)
Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery
Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery (Facebook)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (NUS)

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