14 episodes

“The Circled Square: Buddhist Studies in Higher Education” explores practices of effective teaching and learning in a diversity of higher education contexts.

The Circled Square circledsquare

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

“The Circled Square: Buddhist Studies in Higher Education” explores practices of effective teaching and learning in a diversity of higher education contexts.

    Rima Vesely-Flad, Learning about Black Buddhist Dharma Teachers and Healing Justice

    Rima Vesely-Flad, Learning about Black Buddhist Dharma Teachers and Healing Justice

    Description Rima Vesely-Flad teaches at Warren Wilson College exploring the intersections of Buddhism, race, and gender. Her teaching is deeply entwined with her current research on Buddhist teachers of African descent in the United states, particularly in the Vipassana tradition.Buddhism as it was adopted in North America has reflected the racism and discriminatory ideologies of this society. Rima researches how Black Buddhist teachers are doing things differently—and how Buddhist institutions in North America and contemporary Buddhist teachings are changing as a result. As more Black teachers are coming into positions of power in the US, authoring books, providing teachings, they are making new articulations of the dharma and carving spaces of liberation from dominant social messages.Black Buddhist teachers, many of whom also self-identify as queer, show how dharma can be a great vehicle for recognizing that historical harm was done and continues to be done, and to working with that recognition. They disrupt the status quo, bringing about new awareness based on embodied experience, and bringing attention to internalized racism and inter-generational trauma.With the tools that Buddhism provides to address, name, and be in discomfort, these teachers are making a different dharma possible: a space of resistance and healing to the pervasive ideologies of white supremacy. Teaching and reading this material with students, both white and marginalized, and gender non-conforming, Rima provides expansive opportunities for all to recognize the work that remains.Quotes “Let’s take not only Black people who are marginalized in society and value their bodies and value their spirits and value their persons, but let’s also take the most marginalized folks within Black communities and privilege their voices and their experiences so that in this movement not only do we have many, many self-identified queer leaders, but we also have an emphasis on transgender persons and the disproportionate violence especially against Black transgender women.” Rima Vesely-Flad“Spirit Rock just graduated a teacher group that was 90% people of colour. That’s unprecedented!” Rima Vesely-Flad“IMS is about to graduate a teacher group that is 70% people of colour.” Rima Vesely-Flad“When I did the research for my book, which pertains only to people of African descent both who are recognized teachers but also who are long-time practitioners, it turns out that almost 63% self-identify as queer. That’s a very big deal.” Rima Vesely-Flad“In that privileging of the body, these teachers are saying we work with the body, the body is our vehicle towards liberation and our social experiences and how we’re constructed needs to get named as much as they need to be transcended. So that there is within these spaces a recognizing of how racism is internalized, the overt violence that gets enacted, the level of fear with which we move in our broader society, all of that gets named and put out there.” Rima Vesely-Flad“The practice of liberation is not simply to achieve these different states of mind, but it’s also to say that liberation means a kind of transcending of those dominant, damaging messages that we have internalized so that we are not always in reaction to white supremacy.” Rima Vesely-Flad“One of the reasons I think these teachings from these Black teachers are so profound is that you can tell that they have managed to live in a different way. They are not always moving against white supremacy. They are not changing their patterns, not changing their bodies, not always in reaction to the degradation that has been part of the waters we all swim in.” Rima Vesely-Flad “Predominantly white Buddhist sanghas and retreat structures and governing structures in the United States have not taken seriously that fact that racism can flou

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Embodied Learning on Interdependence

    Embodied Learning on Interdependence

    Description How do students learn and what do they value six months after a course? What do students get from embodied and experiential learning? In this episode, Sarah interviews five students who all took the same course about interdependence at the University of Toronto in the Fall of 2019. In these interviews, conducted well after the course and when the world has been plunged into a global pandemic, students reflect on how the course changed them and their ways of understanding themselves and their worlds. Hear from students about just how transformational these embodied practices were, and how this kind of learning that intentionally used class time to work with putting things into a physical practice changed their relationship to a core Buddhist studies concept-- interdependence-- and what they are doing with that six months on. Listen and find inspiration to try new things in your classes too!Quotes “I wasn't just learning about interdependence, but I was learning also about myself.” Xinran Huang“I had an incredible sense of gratitude and awe at what my body was and what it gives me. It was pretty powerful. Sam Keravica “I found out that memory isn't real, it's practiced.” Sally Andrews “I'm struggling to articulate the kind of bodily realization of how we are intimately connected with each other, even beyond thoughts.” Richard Wu“We have to open our circle of concern for this collective self that we're trying to protect.” Aaron Marshall Links and References Kriti Sharma, Interdependence, Biology and Beyondhttps://www.fordhampress.com/9780823265534/interdependence/Alexis Shotwell, Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Timeshttps://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/against-purity Frances Garrett’s description of the course http://francesgarrett.chass.utoronto.ca/interdependence/

    • 40 min
    Daigengna Duoer, Teaching a Zen Buddhism Course Online with Student Preferences in Mind

    Daigengna Duoer, Teaching a Zen Buddhism Course Online with Student Preferences in Mind

    Description Gathering data about student expectations and experiences with new technology is essential to developing effective courses to be delivered online during the pandemic. In this interview we spoke with Daigengna Duoer, who taught an online course on Zen Buddhism at UC Santa Barbara this past summer. Daigengna repeatedly surveyed her students to evaluate their preferences and comfort with the format and content of the course. In this episode, we hear about some creative and specific ways she created an engaging asynchronous learning experience in a course that was taught entirely remotely. Some key take-aways? One-on-one zoom meetings to develop paper topics, a preference for asynchronous, but also short, lectures, and being sure to build a course that allows students to focus on topics of real interest to them. Quotes "I was really shocked after reading the results from the survey. Actually 74% of my students actually preferred asynchronous. And then the rest preferred a mix. Nobody or 0% preferred 100% synchronous formats." Daigengna Duoer"74% of my students actually preferred asynchronous. I was really shocked. 0% preferred 100% synchronous formats." Daigengna Duoer"Teaching in covid-19 really made me become more aware about how students learn, how they want to learn, what they want to learn, especially when it comes to Buddhism and also Zen, things like this, so they are really technology-oriented, but they're also very flexible, I think, and they really want relevant information and material and also arguments for their immediate concerns." Daigengna Duoer"One of the advantages we have as instructors of humanities courses where we can definitely teach this exciting content, but we can also teach, useful transferable skills through this content to students." Daigengna DuoerLinks and References  Daigengna Duoer, UC Santa Barbara, Department of Religious Studies  https://www.religion.ucsb.edu/people/student/daigengna-duoer/ Daigengna’s Personal Website https://www.daigengnaduoer.com Panopto video recording and sharing softwarehttps://www.panopto.com/Ronald Purser, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/600158/mcmindfulness-by-ronald-purser/Hwansoo Kim, "The Adventures of a Japanese Monk in Colonial Korea: Sōma Shōei's Zen Training with Korean Masters"www.jstor.org/stable/30233856Joshua Irizarry, "Putting a Price on Zen: The Business of Redefining Religion for Global Consumption"http://www.globalbuddhism.org/jgb/index.php/jgb/article/view/147Peter Romaskiewicz, Mind Lab exercises https://peterromaskiewicz.com/2017/10/18/meditation-or-mind-lab/

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Kerry Brown, Teaching Asian Art as Storytelling

    Kerry Brown, Teaching Asian Art as Storytelling

    Description Dr. Kerry Lucinda Brown is a professor of art history at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah Georgia and has a research focus on the religious arts of the Newar community of Nepal. In this episode we speak with Kerry about how she teaches Asian and Buddhist art topics in her context: that is, to students in a design college for whom the materials may be new and distant. Teaching Asian and Buddhist arts and their long and complex histories can be complicated, but Kerry finds tangible ways to make the experience of her courses unforgettable for students. From visiting local religious sites, to scheduling collaborative review sessions with her students after their final exam, Kerry shares the breadth and depth of Asian religious art, and her infectious enthusiasm for a form  of teaching that is like sports coaching with her students. Fail! Practice! Repeat!Quotes "Images are not just powerful as things. They have presence and aliveness." Kerry Brown"Once I say that they are allowed to fail and they should fail, it’s the easiest way to learn, then  they take a deep breath and are a little easier on themselves." Kerry Brown"There’s all different kinds of Buddhisms, and I think once they get that they realize that it’s easier to understand the different variations, there’s not just one Buddhism." Kerry BrownLinks and References Kerry’s profile page at SCAD https://www.scad.edu/academics/faculty/kerry-brown Kerry Lucinda Brown on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerrylucinda Sanjay Patel, Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/298724/the-little-book-of-hindu-deities-by-sanjay-patel/ Carlelton-Antioch Buddhist Studies Programhttps://www.carleton.edu/global-engagement/buddhist-studies-india/

    • 58 min
    Luther Obrock, Constructing Buddhist Theories of the Body from Ancient Texts

    Luther Obrock, Constructing Buddhist Theories of the Body from Ancient Texts

    Description Dr. Luther Obrock from the University of Toronto shares about teaching an undergraduate course on bodies and embodiment in early Indian Buddhist texts. He wants to use his course, a seminar, to help students understand how theories are not just modern constructions, but instead can also emerge from ancient religious texts. He leads his students through ways to mine data and information about how the writers of ancient Indian texts, themselves embodied, understood and spoke about their (gendered) bodies. From analyzing the representation of the "hyper-masculine" Buddha’s body, or the status of the female body as attested in literature by or about nuns, a theory, or an "imaginary relationship to a real problem" of the body, can emerge. Quotes "Let’s imagine these texts as coming from embodied people." Luther Obrock "We can use the Buddhist texts as theory to think about our own positionality." Luther ObrockLinks and References Dr. Luther Obrock https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/historical-studies/people/obrock-lutherTherigatha https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/index.html John Powers, A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Boyd in Indian Buddhism https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674064034&content=reviewsCharles Hallisey, Therigatha: Selected Poems of the First Buddhist Womenhttps://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674427730I.B. (Isaline Blew) Horner – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaline_Blew_Horner

    • 45 min
    Rongdao Lai, Living Religion in the Classroom: Teaching Chinese Buddhism

    Rongdao Lai, Living Religion in the Classroom: Teaching Chinese Buddhism

    Description In this episode, Dr. Rongdao Lai discusses her approach to teaching Buddhism as a living religion, and not only as a philosophy. As an ordained Buddhist nun in the Chinese tradition, she is intimately familiar with the contrasts between the academic study of religion and her own training in Buddhist practices at temples. She aspires to teach all of her students how to develop a critical approach to evaluating the study of Buddhism and its canonical objects: why are certain texts and topics treated as core to the study of Buddhism? The possibility of attending to lived Buddhism and contemporary problems in the study of Buddhism and the world opens up a world of new possibilities for students and professors.Quotes "I want students to see how people live their Buddhism." Rongdao Lai "If Buddhism is the only course in the humanities that students take, this is an amazing opportunity to give them something they’ll never forget." Rongdao LaiLinks and References Rongdao Lai, McGill University https://www.mcgill.ca/religiousstudies/rongdao-laiBill 21, Quebec http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-21-42-1.html?appelant=MCMarathon Monks of Mount Hiei, Japan Documentary by Christopher Hayden, 2002 https://youtu.be/M4tcN2YfA-k (duration 52:14) Kwaidan, 1965 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwaidan_(film)

    • 47 min

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