With the generous gift from the Buddhist Youth Alliance International, Emmanuel College has established the Shi Wu De Professorship in Chinese Buddhist Studies to launch the new Buddhist stream in the Master of Pastoral Studies (MPS) program, the first of its kind in Canada. This program prepares graduates to be certified with the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC) and qualified to work as chaplains in hospitals, educational institutions, senior homes, prisons, other public institutions, and in Buddhist temples.
In collaboration with the Buddhist Education Foundation of Canada, Emmanuel College is launching an Applied Buddhist Studies Initiative (ABSI). The ABSI will complement the MPS Buddhist Program at Emmanuel by offering additional educational programming in Buddhist chaplaincy, hosting events to advance interdisciplinary scholarship through workshops, conferences, and publications. We hope that the ABSI will provide an array of opportunities for engagement by the Buddhist community and other academic disciplines and for the students in the MPS program to be exposed to a richer understanding of contemporary issues related to all the traditions of Buddhism as well as other faiths, helping them make practical use of their education in their future careers.
A workshop in January 2016, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Experiential Workshop, was supervised by Dr. Kenneth Fung from the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Toronto. The workshop included six core components of ACT: Acceptance, Cognitive Defusion, Contact with the Present, Self-as-Context, Values, and Committed Action. In addition to its explicit use of the concept of mindfulness, the therapeutic techniques of ACT also incorporate other aspects of Buddhist teachings and practices. The workshop’s aim was the hope that further development of integrative therapies can incorporate psychological, spiritual, and diverse cultural perspectives that contribute to the continued advancement and evolution of more effective psychotherapies that will offer greater benefit to diverse populations.
A related workshop, focusing especially on palliative care and titled Acceptance and commitment to Living and Dying, was also offered in January 2016, under the supervision of Dr. Jane Smith-Eivemark from the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University.
A third workshop, on the ABSI calendar for October 2016, will treat the theme of Sustainable Compassion Training, through which Dr. John Makransky from Boston College will introduce a set of contemplative practices he designed to help people realize a power of unconditional care from within that is deeply healing and sustaining, that makes them more fully present to themselves and others, and that protects them from burnout and compassion fatigue.
The ABSI will also convene occasional conferences to connect scholars and leaders in Buddhist institutions who are engaged in pastoral, palliative, chaplaincy, and ministerial initiatives relating to Buddhist education in different countries, providing a platform to foster meaningful discussions and deepened understandings among the participants.
The inaugural conference, October 14 & 15, 2016 at Emmanuel College, focuses on Applied Buddhism: Past and Present, a theme which exemplifies how Buddhists in Asia applied Buddhism in adaptation to various social and political changes, and how others in non-traditional Buddhist countries apply the teachings in areas such as palliative care, prison chaplaincy, psychotherapy, social work, ecology, etc. The keynote speaker of the conference will be Prof. John Makransky. An edited version of the presented papers will be collected and published in a monograph series.
In addition, a Psychiatry Fellowship is under development. Housed in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, the Fellow will be cross-appointed to the ABSI, and will be co-supervised by Dr. Kenneth Fung from the Department of Psychiatry and the Shi Wu De Buddhist Studies professor at Emmanuel. The Fellow will conduct research relating to the application of Buddhism in psychiatry that would have implications in Buddhist chaplaincy in public institutions and Buddhist temples as well as clinical practice. He or she will also give public lectures organized by the ABSI. The ABSI is also planning outreach connections with the local Buddhist communities to build meaningful ministerial works and relationships in the Greater Toronto Area. Courses on Palliative Care will also be developed jointly with Hospice Palliative Care Ontario to offer students interested in volunteer chaplaincy a deeper and practical first-hand experience in their learning.
The Buddhist Education Foundation of Canada also offers a limited number of the Shi Wu De Community Care Scholarships to qualified students taking Buddhism courses offered in the Buddhist MPS and Buddhist Diploma programs at Emmanuel College.