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Course Information

Instructor Info:Sue Darlington
Office Extension x5600
Term: 2014F
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108

How is Buddhism engaged in the world? This course explores how Buddhism is being used in Asia and the United States to address contemporary issues such as human rights, environmentalism, economic development and race and gender relations. Buddhist concepts such as morality, interdependence, and liberation will be examined in comparison with Western ideas of human rights, democracy, and freedom. We will explore how globalization and cultural traditions influence religious and cultural change as people deal with social problems. A case study approach will be used to look at progressive and conservative responses to social change within their broader cultural, historical and political contexts. Prior knowledge of Buddhist studies or Asian studies is strongly recommended.

Evaluation Criteria:

This course is premised on everyone’s active participation in class discussion, so it is essential that students come to class having done the assigned readings.  Participation in class discussion is strongly encouraged, regardless of a student’s prior experience with any particular topic, because together we will be critically analyzing the materials we have read. 

To receive an evaluation (or grade for Five College students) for this course, you must attend class and complete all assignments on time.  You will be evaluated on both writing and class participation.  If you miss more than two class meetings without a good, documented reason, you may not get a good evaluation or grade.  (If you miss a significant number of class meetings, you will not get an evaluation.)  You will be evaluated on the development of the basic writing, research, analytical and critical thinking skills that are essential to understanding and working in the social sciences.  You will be expected to demonstrate a solid knowledge and understanding of the topics in the course.  Remember:  Communication with me about your status in the class can help you meet the course goals and do well in this course. Please let me know of any special considerations you may require, including documenting any special learning needs.

I do not give Incompletes unless negotiated before assignment due dates, including the final paper and portfolio.

Assignments:  Assignments are due the day they are listed below, to be submitted on Moodle. All written work should be typed, double-spaced and proof-read.  Assignments include 4 short essays (5-8 pages) based on class readings and discussion (listed below, including a choice of 2 out of 4 topical essays), a preliminary research proposal and bibliography, and final research paper.

            Origins of Engaged Buddhism Essay                   Sept. 22

You must do 2 of the following 4 topical assignments, due on the listed dates; plan ahead to be sure to get each of them done on time. 

           Peace & Non-violence                              October 15

           Human Rights                                           November 3

           Economic Justice & Environmentalism      November 24

          Gender & Race                                         December 5


Research proposal & preliminary bibliography     November 10

Research paper                                                   December 18

Final portfolio and self-evaluation                        December 18


There are two required books, available at the Hampshire College bookstore, and on Reserve in the Hampshire Library.  Articles are on the course website. 


King, Sallie B.  2005.  Being Benevolence: the Social Ethics of Engaged Buddhism.  Honolulu:  University of Hawai’i Press. 

Darlington, Susan M. 2012. The Ordination of a Tree: The Thai Buddhist Environmental Movement. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Additional Info:

*Plagiarism:   Plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s ideas or words as if they were your own, without acknowledging the source.  Plagiarism is a serious offense, and can result in either No Evaluation for the course or even disciplinary withdrawal from the College.  As you write your papers, you must be sure to cite your sources thoroughly and correctly, whether you are quoting directly or paraphrasing.  Ignorance of plagiarism is not an excuse.  If you are ever uncertain as to whether doing something is technically plagiarism, you should ask.  You should also consult with writing reference manuals for correct citation and bibliographic formats, including for citing Internet sources.