The Hong Kong-based Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation has announced grants totaling $5.2 million to Harvard and Stanford universities for efforts to advance understanding of Buddhist philosophy in the United States and to help bridge the study and practice of Buddhism.
Harvard Divinity School will receive a $2.7 million grant for an eight-year initiative that, for the first time in the university's history, makes it possible for master of divinity degree candidates to pursue studies in a non-Christian tradition. The initiative also will encourage Buddhists to share their insights with people of different faiths who are studying for the ministry, allow future Buddhist clergy to be trained in a way appropriate to the twenty-first century, and support the work of Buddhist clergy in hospitals and other places of pastoral care.
The foundation also awarded a $2.5 million grant to Stanford, which will be matched by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to create an endowed chair in Buddhist studies at the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Center for Buddhist Studies. The first permanent faculty post dedicated to Buddhism at Stanford will work to advance academic teaching and research on Buddhism, with an emphasis on the Chinese tradition. Established in 2008 with a $5 million grant from the foundation, the Ho Family Center for Buddhist Studies aims to promote both the academic study and public understanding of Buddhist tradition.
Although the Ho Family Foundation was established in 2005 to "foster and support Chinese arts and culture, as well as to promote deeper understanding of the teachings of the Buddha and to apply them to everyday life," the Ho family has been working since 2001 to build a global network of Buddhist learning by supporting Buddhist studies at leading universities, including the universities of Hong Kong, British Columbia, Toronto, and the International Buddhist College in Thailand. "The Ho family began working ten years ago to build a global network of Buddhist learning," said Robert Y.C. Ho. "We believe that a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophy can help nurture creativity, encourage greater integrity and ingenuity in confronting challenges, and foster effective and positive change, both for individuals and for societies."