The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, known in Japanese as Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK), has awarded McMaster University C$1.2 million (US$891,000) to establish a Numata Visiting Scholar Program in Buddhist Studies. The grant comes as the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University, based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is experiencing heightened interest in its Buddhist Studies program.
According to the McMaster Daily News, in 2017–18, the Department of Religious Studies received more graduate applications in Buddhist studies than any other area of study. The department has attracted students from Canada, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States. They have also drawn in postdoctoral fellows from Asia, Europe, and North America.
“No other university in Canada has such a longstanding commitment to the academic study of Buddhism. Modelled after Numata programs at other leading universities, our new visiting scholar program will enable a permanent home for advanced research, international cooperation and world-leading scholarship,” said McMaster University president and vice-chancellor Patrick Deane. “We are deeply grateful for BDK’s generosity, as we work together to create a more peaceful world for all.” (McMaster Daily News)
“I think the award will facilitate rich exchanges between scholars of Buddhism, allowing senior academics to pass on their knowledge to junior colleagues and students at McMaster University,” Jeffery Kotyk, the Robert H. N. Ho Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies, told Buddhistdoor Global. “This will really benefit Buddhist Studies in Canada.”
“Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai wishes to contribute to the achievement of global peace and harmony,” said Shoryu Katsura, president of BDK Japan and Canada. “We are delighted to support the work of McMaster University, which helps us continue to promote Buddhist wisdom around the world and create a more compassionate humanity through our global educational programs.” (McMaster Daily News)
The Numata Chair memorializes the late Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata, founder of BDK. BDK was established in 1965 as a non-sectarian organization whose mission is to contribute to the advancement of human welfare and peace by promoting Buddhist teachings such as compassion and interconnectedness.
In describing its work, McMaster’s Department of Religious Studies similarly notes that, “In Canada’s multicultural society and increasingly interconnected world, the study of religion is one of the most comprehensive ways of understanding humankind and human visions of reality.” (McMaster)
It was Rev. Numata’s belief that “the attainment of world peace is possible only by the perfection of the human mind, which can be educated and benefited from the teachings of the Buddha. Therefore, along with managing his business enterprise, he exerted his efforts toward the spreading and modernization of Buddhist music, pictures and teachings.” (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai)
There are BDK affiliates around the world including offices in the Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, the UK, and the US.
“Over the past decade, we’ve been blessed by strong relationships with BDK Canada and BDK America,” added James A. Benn, director of McMaster’s Centre for Buddhist Studies. Since 2004, McMaster’s School of Graduate Studies has administered the BDK Canada Graduate Scholarship Program, a blind, peer-reviewed competition for graduate students across Canada. The current scholarship holder is McMaster PhD candidate Ruifeng Chen. (McMaster Daily News)
McMaster’s Centre for Buddhist Studies receives $1.2M for a new visiting scholar program (McMaster Daily News)
About Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai)
Department of Religious Studies (McMaster)