The Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) in Berkeley, California, has announced that it will join the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), also located in Berkeley. The move will make IBS the ninth member school of the GTU consortium after some 36 years as a GTU affiliate.
IBS, a Jodo Shinshu-affiliated seminary and graduate school, will be the second non-Christian school to join the GTU. The other eight academic schools of the GTU are the American Baptist Seminary of the West, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University, the Pacific School of Religion, the San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the Starr King School for the Ministry.*
IBS and Zaytuna College—a private Muslim liberal arts college in Berkeley—were announced in 2018 as candidates to join GTU. Other academic affiliates of the GTU include the Center for Islamic Studies and the Mira and Ajay Shingal Center for Dharma Studies.
“The Institute of Buddhist Studies has long been a valued affiliate of the GTU consortium. We are thrilled to now welcome IBS as a member school, enhancing the integration of IBS faculty and students into the academic life of the GTU,” said Dr. Elizabeth Peña, interim dean and vice president for academic affairs at the GTU. “The contributions of IBS are crucial to the GTU’s goals in interreligious, interdisciplinary scholarship and activism.” (Institute of Buddhist Studies)
Dr. Scott Mitchell, dean of students and faculty affairs at IBS, said: “Our students have benefited from the interreligious learning opportunities offered by the GTU and its member schools for the past three decades. By becoming a full member school, we’ll be an even more vital part of this community, contributing to and shaping the future of interreligious education. The impacts of this step are already felt and will be far reaching.” (Institute of Buddhist Studies)
IBS was incorporated in 1966, making it one of North America’s oldest Buddhist centers for higher education. Along with studies in Jodo Shinshu, they offer courses in Soto Zen and Theravada Buddhism. They offer specializations in ministry, chaplaincy, psychology, and inter-religious studies. IBS gained its initial accreditation in 2020 through the WASC Senior Commission of Universities and Colleges (WSCUC).
Dr. Mitchel noted at the time: “We’ve been expanding our programs and diversifying our student body for decades. Accreditation will allow us to continue that growth, attracting a wider range of students, and offer more programs in the years to come while continuing to support our core programs and meet the needs of our existing students.” (Institute of Buddhist Studies)
The membership of the Institute of Buddhist Studies in the GTU begins in September with the start of the 2021 fall semester.
* Starr King School for the Ministry is a Unitarian Universalist seminary. While Unitarian Universalism is rooted in Christian traditions, it is explicitly non-credal today and draws from a number of sources within and beyond Christian traditions.
GTU Welcomes Institute of Buddhist Studies as Member School (Institute of Buddhist Studies)
Institute of Buddhist Studies Gains Initial Accreditation (Institute of Buddhist Studies)
Graduate Theological Union considers adding 2 schools to coalition (The Daily Californian)
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