Call for Papers – 2021 Virtual Graduate Student Symposium

Gesshin Claire Greenwood  |  July 5, 2021

We are delighted to announce the Graduate Student Symposium at the Institute of Buddhist Studies for the fall of 2021. The Symposium will be held virtually on October 22nd, 2021.

The theme of the 2021 Symposium is “Authority and Normativity in and Between Buddhist Traditions”. Our keynote speaker for this year’s Symposium will be Dr. Ann Gleig

Dr. Gleig is an associate professor of religion and cultural studies at the University of Central Florida and author of American Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Modernity (Yale University Press, 2019). She is currently working on a collaborative book on sexual violation in American Buddhism with Dr. Amy Langenberg. She is also a research fellow on the project “Transforming the American Sangha: Race, Racism and Diversity in North American Insight Meditation,” led by Dr. Nalika Gajaweera at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. Finally, she is co-editing the Oxford Handbook of American Buddhism with Dr. Scott Mitchell.

The question “what is Buddhism?” is deceptively uncomplicated. Scratching beneath the surface of this question presents a host of issues. Not only is there significant disagreement between Buddhist traditions as to what the buddhadharma consists of, the academic study of Buddhism offers its own perspectives, both normative and descriptive, of Buddhist history, thought, and practice, perspectives sometimes at odds with the tradition itself. Who has the authority to define what Buddhism is and is not? Who gets to stay in the proverbial circle, and who gets drawn out? What resources do Buddhist authorities, laypeople, and academics draw on to define Buddhism for themselves and for others? What are the ethical and philosophical ramifications of drawing such boundaries for a tradition that emphasizes compassion for others and the impermanence of all conditioned phenomena? What are the responsibilities of academics, taken as trusted authorities on their subject of expertise, who present the Buddhist traditions for the public in a putatively “objective” fashion?

We invite papers for the Symposium that address these issues from numerous perspectives and positions. Historical and contemporary studies from a variety of disciplines are welcome. Graduate students at any level of their program are encouraged to submit their research.

Students should submit an abstract of no more than 300 words as well as the following information:  

  • Paper Title
  • Institutional Affiliation
  • Degree Program (Certificate, MA, MDiv, PhD, etc.)
  • Year in Program

Submissions should be sent to Dr. Thomas Calobrisi ( no later than August 15th, 2021. Students will be notified of the result of their submission by September 15th.