New Partnership Leads to Tibetan Studies Program

Academic Dean Gregory Mahler and his wife, Marjorie, had the honor of meeting with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala, along with Director of the Institute for Buddhist Dialectics Geshe Kalsang Damdul.

Earlham College has a new international partner in the College of Higher Tibetan Studies in Dharamsala, India. The two institutions are joining efforts to provide Earlham students with a new off-campus study opportunity in Tibetan Studies.

The College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) is associated with the Institute for Buddhist Dialectics, under the guidance of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. CHTS is also known as Sarah College because of its location in the town of Sarah, just outside of Dharamsala in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. Having opened in 1998, the college teaches both monks and secular students.

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The partnership became official last fall when Academic Dean Gregory Mahler traveled to Dharamsala to sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

At a formal event celebrating the signing, Mahler talked about Earlham’s international character, its commitment to peace studies, and its interest in establishing a linkage with the CHTS. The Tibetan Minister of Education, Hon. Tashki Dhondup, responded that Earlham had an international reputation, and that the CHTS was very excited about partnering with Earlham. At the end of the evening, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed, and all agreed that the partnership will be beneficial to both parties.

Hon. Tashki Dhondup, the Tibetan Minister of Education, addresses the gathering at the signing ceremony.The next day, Mahler and his wife, Marjorie, had the honor of meeting with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala, along with Director of the Institute for Buddhist Dialectics Geshe Kalsang Damdul. At the audience, Mahler invited the Dalai Lama to visit Earlham on his next visit to the United States. His Holiness replied, “I will come.”

Off-Campus Study plays an integral role in Earlham College academic life with 65 percent of its students and 60 percent of its faculty participating in one of more programs. The College requires students to complete an international diversity requirement and gain proficiency in a second language. More than 200 courses throughout Earlham's curriculum include international themes and content.

The first group of Earlham students to study at the College of Higher Tibetan Studies will leave for India in August 2013.  They will have the opportunity to meet and study with the Dalai Lama. Forrest Tobey, associate professor of music, will lead the program.

Students earn a total of 18 semester credits. They will take the following courses: Tibetan Culture and Art, Tibetan Language, and Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy and Practice. The academic experience also includes an independent research project, and a forum to review the experience upon returning to Earlham.

During the first part of the program, students will live with Tibetan roommates while on the Sarah campus and will take most meals in the cafeterias. During the second part of the program, students will live with Tibetan families in McLeod Ganj, the community immediately surrounding the IBD. During the program, students participate in weekly fieldtrips, celebrate several important Tibetan and Indian holidays, and attend numerous cultural events.

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