JAIN ACADEMIC EDUCATION SEMINAR AT THE JAINA CONVENTION IN HOUSTON, TEXAS ON JULY 3, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted by: Pooja Jain
Each summer for the last seven years dozens of Americans, fly to India for 3- 6 weeks. Like thousands of other Americans who visit India in summer, they are eager to finally get to see the Taj Mahal. But their purpose is much more focused than that.
All are professors or graduate or undergraduate students in religion and philosophy from several American universities. All participants are carefully chosen by a team of senior level professors in American universities. All these participants go to India to attend the International Summer School for Jain Studies; ISSJS. Hardly any one of them is a Jain. They are there to study Jainism—a subject they knew little if anything about until very recently. In India they are joined by several other participants of the same academic background but Canadians, Europeans, and Asians. Similarly many scholars have been attending a similar ISSJS program in Thailand, where Jainism also has vigorous roots. Each year, all the participants also meet Jains of all kinds and at all levels in India, but principally professors, scholars, and ascetics and saints there. And of course, Jain professionals, leaders and businessmen too.
All participants to ISSJS are given opportunities to absorb the richness of the culture that Jains have been blessed with since their infant days. And yes, they also get to see the Taj Mahal, Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Mumbai , Hastinapur —and many other famous places that tourists from around the world are so eager to get to see. This is always fun for them, of course. But it is also just one more way to appreciate India.
ISSJS is the invention of necessity. Since the 18th century the teaching and research in Indian studies has been conducted in the most prestigious universities of the USA, Canada, and UK. However, Jaina studies have not prospered as much as its Hindu and Buddhist counterparts, due to insufficient courses, or professors qualified to teach the courses, or sufficient numbers of students enrolling in the courses. The Academic study of Jainism is still an undeveloped area of research in universities in North America. This situation necessitated a new balance, which Professor Cromwell Crawford, University of Hawaii, Jain Academic Foundation of North America and Mahavir Vision Inc; USA felt the need to rectify, through the creation of an organization "International School for Jain Studies (ISJS)”. The heart of the project is The International Summer School for Jain Studies (ISSJS). The spirit of ISSJS is to rectify this omission in scholarly inquiry by fostering an interest in universities around the world.
South Asian studies are making rapid advances in American universities, due to:
i. the new pluralistic outlook in the country;
ii. the large and growing influx of immigrants from the subcontinent who give faces to Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Islam;
iii. an increasing number of faculty of Indian origin;
iv. the emergence of religion as a major political player on the world stage;
v. the felt need to think globally.
At the forthcoming JAINA convention in Houston, Texas, July 1-4, 2011, the JAINA”s Academic Liaison Committee (ALC) will be holding a2 hour long informational seminaron
"Jain Academic Studies; Strategies for Growth”.
This seminar is multidisciplinary and several eminent academics and community activist will share latest information about the need, status and future steps to promote Jain Academic education in the universities of the world.
Following academicians and community leaders will make their presentations which will be followed by a panel discussions as shown below
Prof. Gary Francione (Rutgers University) will Chair the seminar. He will make introductory remarks about Jain Academic Educationand will then introduce the next speaker as follows. After each speaker, Prof. Francione will present in brief written suggestions/feedbacks received from Prof. John Cort ( Ohio), Prof. Peter Flugel ( London, U.K) a and Dr. Nathan Loewen( Montreal, Canada)
Dr. Sulekh Jain, Houston, Texas; Current status of Jain Academic Education
Dr. Bipin Doshi, Bombay, India Roadblocks to Jain Academic Education
Dilip Shah, Philadelphia ISJS (International school for Jain Studies) Today
Prof. Nathan Katz, Miami, FLJain Studies at Florida International University
Dr. Geeta Mehta; Bombay Jain Studies at Somaiya Vidyavihar
Dr. Natubhai Shah, London, U. Jain studies in Europe
Ms. Kathleen Awahoshi Kavan, Honolulu My experiences and impressions about
ISJS as an alumnus
Dr. Neeta Jain,New York Opportunities for teaching Jainism in Unites
Nations School systems
Dr. Subhash Jain, Iowa City, Iowa where do we go from here?
PANELEST; Prof. Francione ( Rutgers University), Dr. Yashwant Malaiya ( Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO) , Dr. Jagmohan Humar ( Carleton University, Ottawa, Canda), Dr. Dilip Bobra( Tempe, AZ), Dr. Manish Mehta( Ann Arbor, MI) and Anop Vora ( Rochester, NY)
Similarly another seminar on "Perception of Western Visitors to Jain temples in India” will also be held at the JAINA convention.
ISJS Class at Ahimsa Sthal in New Delhi