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Buddhism in China-- Connecting with the Source


Through the “Buddhism in China Series,” Woodenfish Foundation aims to aid the development of emerging scholars in the West with research interests in Chinese Buddhism or related fields by offering the opportunity for direct, intensive academic engagement with major historical centers of Buddhism in China. Woodenfish is dedicated to providing program scholarships to all qualified applicants in order to ensure financial situations do not restrict participation in this enriching program. In 2015, we provided full program and travel scholarships to 15 undergraduate and graduate students from Harvard University, Princeton University and Yale University. 


Each year, from 2009 to 2012 the program took groups of scholars to study religious sites in different regions of China. Through personal tours participants gained on-the-ground knowledge of the history and diversity of Buddhism in China, its relationship to other cultural institutions, and its ongoing vitality. Special attention was given to introducing participants to potential sources and avenues for research, and promoting interaction with Chinese scholars and religious professionals. Our program was also geared towards fostering international exchange and building networks among scholars of Chinese religion, history, and culture.


Starting from 2012, Woodenfish launched the “Buddhism in China—Connecting with the Source Program”. This is a semi-annual program that offers faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates opportunities for direct and intensive engagement with important historical centers of Chinese Buddhism and culture. Previous programs have included a Platform Sutra Seminar in Nanhua Temple led by Peter Gregory (Smith College), a Guanyin Seminar on Mt. Putuo by Chün-fang Yü (Columbia University) and Bhikkhuni Vinaya Seminar by Ann Heirman (Ghent University) at Sichuan Nuns College. The summer 2014 we invited renowned scholar Professor Daniel B. Stevenson on Tiantai Study to lead a seminar at Mt. Tiantai.



Program Objectives

The primary objectives of the program are as follows: 

  • To deepen participants’ knowledge of Buddhist history and culture in China;

  • To give participants hands-on experience with historical Buddhist sites and objects;

  • To introduce participants to possible avenues of research related to their interests;

  • To facilitate the interaction of participants with professors and graduate students from Chinese institutions.

Eligibility and Selection


Advanced undergraduates of academic promise and cognate interests and graduate students enrolled in MA or PhD programs at Western universities with a primary research interest in Chinese Buddhism or related fields are eligible to apply. Associated fields include: Chinese religion, comparative Buddhist studies, Buddhist art, Chinese history, Asian philosophy, etc. Faculty are also welcome and encouraged to participate.


The program is open to students of all nationalities and university affiliations, though we do require English-language ability of all our participants. While proficiency in spoken and written Chinese is desirable, it is not a necessary condition for eligibility to participate in the program. Seminars and site introductions will often be given in Mandarin Chinese and interpreted into English by bilingual scholars, thus allowing full accessibility for all participants regardless of language background. For participants with proficiency in Mandarin, the program is also designed to provide opportunity for language exercise in a sustained academic interaction with Chinese scholars and religious professionals.


Contact Information


Inquiries and applications may be sent by e-mail to the program coordinator, at


Past Program Information

To learn more about programs in past years and view itineraries and activities, please click here

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