Developing and Nurturing Monastic Science Leaders

The Tenzin Gyatso Science Scholars Program is a remarkable endeavor designed to develop and nurture indigenous Tibetan monastic science teachers by providing additional college level science education at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The purpose of this program is to ensure the long-term sustainability of science education within Tibetan monasteries and nunneries in India. As such, the Tenzin Gyatso Scholars program is one of the core components of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI). This program, named after His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is made possible by significant support from the Dalai Lama Foundation and Emory University.

The scholars are primarily selected from Tibetan monastic institutions participating in the ETSI science education program. However, scholarships have been extended to monastics from all the major Tibetan Buddhist schools, and the indigenous Bon religion. Since the inception of the program in 2010, six cohorts of 37 scholars had completed the program, and the seventh cohort is currently studying at Emory University and will graduate from this program in May 2025.

Upon the completion of their residency program, the monastics return to their institutions to take up active and leading roles in the science education programs—teaching science classes, serving as liaisons between Emory and their home institutions, coordinating logistics for the ETSI’s Summer Intensives, and engaging as translators and teaching assistants to the Emory faculty members in summer. In addition, the scholars participate in Buddhism and science dialogues and seminars, collaborate on research projects with scientists, and give presentations on various scientific topics.

In 2017, in collaboration with the Department of Religion, Central Tibetan Administration and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, ETSI initiated the 6-year science program for the Buddhist nunneries. Nuns from five major nunneries, all located in India, have been participating in the summer intensive science courses. Four nuns from this program and a nun from IBD had been selected as parts of the fourth and sixth cohort of TGSS and had successfully completed the two-year residency program. Graduates from the TGSS had served as translators for the ETSI 2019 Summer Program for nuns and taught science at their respective nunneries. We look forward to having more nuns in the Tenzin Gyatso Science Scholars Program in the future.