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Celebrating 20 Years of Modern Tibetan Studies
More than two decades ago, a novel idea was born – to bring a contemporary focus to Tibetan studies. Upon its establishment in fall 1999, the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University became the first academic program dedicated to modern Tibet. Twenty years later, we step back to survey the achievements of the Program and its unique contribution to the study of modern Asia, with an eye to the future.
It has been a privilege to direct Columbia’s Modern Tibetan Studies Program (MTSP) for the last couple of years, working together with a team of talented scholars, students, and colleagues at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and C.V. Starr East Asian Library.
In March 2021, MTSP alumna, Dominique Townsend, released her new book entitled A Buddhist Sensibility: Aesthetic Education at Tibet's Mindröling Monastery. Dominique Townsend is currently assistant professor of Buddhist studies at Bard College. She is also a poet and the author of Shantideva: How to Wake Up a Hero (2015), a book about Buddhism for children and families.
Elisabeth A. Benard, Columbia University PhD (1990), studied Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with Professor Alex Wayman and Tibetan language with Lozang Jamspal in the 1980s. Her interest in Ma Chig Labdron led her to pursue a possible connection to the female tantric figure of Chinnamasta for her dissertation research and first book.