temple imageField Experience in Religious Studies

2017-2018: Buddhism in Nepal

The 2017-2018 field experience course will examine religion and culture in Nepal, focusing on Buddhism. During the fall term, students will study Nepali culture and Tibetan Buddhism. We will then travel to Kathmandu, where students will spend 15 days living in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery and studying a traditional Buddhist text under the guidance of a monk. We will also visit religious sites and engage with local organizations. Students will complete and present independent research during the winter term.


About the Program

Students who are admitted into the program must enroll in RLST 291: Field Experience in Religious Studies for the fall and winter terms, and must commit to an orientation weekend at Bjorklunden in October or November. Students will receive 6 units of credit for completing the entire program.

Students must arrive in Kathmandu on November 26, 2017, and the program will end on December 11, 2017. The group will live and study at the International Buddhist Academy in the town of Boudhanath, a suburb of Kathmandu. The International Buddhist Academy (IBA) is a monastic institution, and students will have ample opportunity to interact with the monastic students who live and study there full-time.

At the IBA, students will stay in single rooms, equipped with a private balcony, twin bed, a desk and chair, and a dresser. Shared bathrooms with solar-heated water are located on each floor. The campus also houses a computer lab and extensive library.

Unless otherwise specified in our itinerary, the kitchen staff at the IBA will provide all meals. The cooks are accustomed to making food that is safe for foreigners to eat, and clean, filtered drinking water is available at all times. Due to food safety concerns regarding meat products in Nepal, all students will be asked to maintain a vegetarian diet for the duration of the program.

The course of studies will include daily lectures in Buddhist philosophy, involving a close reading and intensive study of a Tibetan philosophical text. Students will also receive daily meditation instruction. Afternoons and weekends will be devoted to exploring the greater Kathmandu Valley; hikes, visits to important religious sites, and meetings with local community organizations will be organized. There will also be ample free time for students to explore Boudhanath on their own. Students are expected to attend all classes and remain with the group for the duration of the program.

The director of the 2017-2018 program is Constance Kassor. Connie is an assistant professor of religious studies at Lawrence, where she specializes in courses on Asian religious traditions. She is a specialist in Tibetan philosophy and has lived and worked extensively in Nepal and northern India. She has been leading student groups to South Asia since 2013.


Financial Information

The course fees are $1,300 per student, plus airfare (approx. $1,500). Student fees will cover Nepal visas, room and board fees at the IBA, ground transportation in Nepal, entrance fees to religious and historical sites, offerings for our monastic teachers, and group meals outside of the IBA.

Student fees will not cover any CDC-recommended vaccinations or medications necessary for travel to Nepal.


How to Apply

Students can apply to the program online.
In addition to completing the online application, students must submit a copy of their academic transcript (an unofficial copy is fine), as well as two letters of recommendation.

All application materials must be received no later than May 8, 2017, at 4:00pm. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Students will be notified of their acceptance into the program within one week of the application deadline.


Contact Professor Kassor at constance.e.kassor@lawrence.edu

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