(18 required credit hours)
Despite its modest size, Thailand has the third-largest population of Buddhists in the world, behind only China and Japan. Buddhism has also enjoyed an unusually long period of continuity in Thailand. As dramatic changes have swept through Thailand and Southeast Asia in the last 50 years, Buddhism has been both highly conservative and radically innovative. Thai monk Buddhadasa Bhikkhu expressed both aspects when he called for a life of contemplative simplicity and social engagement to counteract the pressures of modern materialism. It was Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh who first gave the name “Engaged Buddhism” to this form of religious practice. Engaged Buddhism was his answer to fellow Buddhists who asked, as the Vietnam War raged, if they should continue their meditation practice or work to stop the war. The engaged Buddhist response unites these two paths - the path of meditation and the path of work to relieve social suffering.
The Buddhist studies certificate program of study draws on Webster University’s strengths in religious and international studies to explore the complex social reality of Buddhism in Asia today. We offer students a firsthand opportunity to study the cultural and spiritual roots of their host country, and to investigate the many ways in which contemporary Buddhists engage their changing social world - through grassroots activism, as well as through art, ritual, philosophy, institutional reform, and political debate.
Completion of the certificate requires a minimum of eight weeks residence and 9 credit hours of coursework at the Hua Hin/Cha-am campus. The remainder of the 18 credit hours may be completed (in whole or part) at Hua Hin/Cha-am, St. Louis, or any other Webster campus that offers appropriate courses.
We encourage students to approach Buddhism holistically, by embracing three forms of learning:
- Scholarship on Buddhism as a major world religious tradition;
- Face-to-face encounters with Thais and others who practice Buddhism; and
- Personal reflection that grows from grappling with Buddhism as a philosophy, as a form of transformational practice, and as a cultural reality.
Classroom discussions, field excursions, guest lectures, and opportunities for meditation practice are designed to create a multi-dimensional learning experience.
RELG 2075 Introduction to Buddhism, 3 hours
ANSO 2000 Issues in Contemporary Society: Thai Ways - The Culture, Politics and Economy of Thailand, 3 hours
At least one course (3 credit hours) from each of the following groups:
Group One - Socially Engaged Buddhism
RELG 2420 Religion and Culture: Buddhism East and West, 3 hours
RELG 2430 Environments and Religion: Buddhist Eco-Activism, 3 hours
RELG 2440 Religion and Social Action: Engaged Buddhism, 3 hours
RELG 2440 Religion and Social Action: Engaged Buddhism in Asia, 3 hours
RELG 2440 Religion and Social Action: Engaged Buddhism in Thailand, 3 hours
Group Two - Buddhism and Society
RELG 2400 Religion and the Arts: Buddhist Arts, 3 hours
RELG 2430 Environments and Religion: Buddhism and Ecology, 3 hours
RELG 2500 Gender, Culture, and Religion: Women in Buddhism, 3 hours
RELG 3030 Topics in Religion and Society: The Thai Temple/Monastery, 3 hours
RELG 3030 Topics in Religion and Society (with Buddhist topic), 3 hours
An additional two elective courses (at least 6 credit hours) chosen from any course designated as part of the Buddhist studies certificate program, including courses listed above and the following:
RELG 2030 Contemporary Topics (with Buddhist topic), 3 hours
RELG 3070 Topics in Religion and Psychology: Meditation and Healing, 3 hours
RELG 3120 Buddhism, 3 hours
RELG 3600 Field Experience in Religion, 1 - 6 hours
RELG 3605 International Field Experience in Religion, 1 - 6 hours
RELG 4400 Spiritual Paths and Classics, 3 hours
RELG 4550 Advanced Study in Religion, 3 hours
RELG 4610 Reading Course: Directed Readings, Research Project, or Meditation Practicum,
1– 6 hours
FILM 3160 Topics in Film Studies: Buddhism in Film, 3 hours
Topics courses or general umbrella courses within the Department of Religious Studies must have a formally listed Buddhist focus in order to count towards the certificate.