The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies awards 23 Scholars and Institutions for its Inaugural Competition

(14th May, 2014 – Hong Kong) 

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation announces 23 recipients of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies. Conceived by the Foundation together with the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the program aims to expand the understanding, interpretation and application of Buddhist philosophy in contemporary scholarship and society. Specifically, the grants are intended to strengthen the international network of Buddhist studies, enhance its global impact, and increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies.

The program, offered in four categories, received 132 applications globally for its first 2013-2014 competition year. Through rigorous peer review organized by the ACLS, 23 applicants and projects were selected:


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

  • Stephanie Lynn Balkwill (Religious Studies, McMaster University, Canada)
    Empresses, Nuns, and Women of Pure Faith: Buddhism and the Politics of Patronage During the Northern Wei
  • Ethan Bushelle (Religion/Philosophy, Harvard University)
    The Joyous Dharma: Preaching and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan
  • Jin kyoung Choi (Buddhist Studies, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
    Three sutras in the Sanskrit Dirghagama Manuscript
  • Frank W. Clements (East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania)
    Northern Networks: The Range and Roles of the Dewa Sanzan Cult in Northern Japan
  • Dylan Esler (Oriental Philology, Université catholique de Louvain)
    The Lamp for the Eye of Contemplation, the bSam-gtan mig-sgron by gNubs-chen Sangs-rgyas ye-shes: Hermeneutical Study, English Translation and Critical Edition of a Tibetan Buddhist Text
  • Philip Carroll Friedrich (South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania)
    Regional Circulations and the Political Remaking of the Buddhasasana in Late-Medieval Sri Lanka
  • Douglas M. Gildow (Religion, Princeton University)
    Educating Chinese Buddhist Monastics in the People's Republic of China: Seminaries, Academia, and the State
  • Matthew Steven Mitchell (Religion, Duke University)
    Beyond the Convent Walls: the Local and Japan-wide Activities of Daihongan’s Nuns in the Early Modern Period (c. 1550 – 1868)
  • Pang Shiying (Chinese Buddhism, Group in Buddhist Studies, University of California at Berkeley)
    Seeking for the Dharma Body: A Preliminary Study on the Notion of Dharmakaya Bodhisattva in Prajnaparamita Literature and Its Commentary
  • Cameron Penwell (Japanese History, University of Chicago)
    The Emergence of Modern Buddhist Social Work in Twentieth-Century Japan
  • Jason Protass (Religious Studies, Stanford University)
    Poet-monk Daoqian (1043-1112): Buddhist Monasticism and Social Poetry
  • Catherine Prueitt (Religion, Emory University)
    The Evolution of the Buddhist Apoha (Exclusion) Theory of Concept Formation through Inter-Traditional Debate in Tenth and Eleventh Century Kashmir
  • Christina K. Robinson (Religious Studies, University of Virginia)
    Epistolary Buddhism: Tibetan Letter-Writing Manuals and the Growth of the Geluk During the Qing
  • Aleix Ruiz Falqués (South Asian Studies, Cambridge University)
    A Firefly in the Bamboo Reed: Chapata Saddhammajotipala and the Intellectual Foundations of Burmese Theravada Buddhism
  • Luke Noel Thompson (East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University)
    Returning to the Founder: Shakyamuni Devotion in Early Medieval Japan and Japanese Buddhist Conceptions of History

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

  • Dr. Deba Mitra Barua (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
    Buddhism in Two Bengals from 1757 to 1988: Theravada Buddhism as a Minority Religion and its Transnational Connections
  • Dr. He Xi (Hamline University)
    From Buddhology to Aesthetics: Literary Design and Religious Emotions in the Lalitavistara
  • Dr. Stephan Kigensan Licha (Waseda University)
    A Common Transmission Within the Teachings - Zen in Tendai Oral Transmission Materials

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collaborative Research Grants in Buddhist Studies

  • Dr. Mitch Hendrickson (University of Illinois)
    The Two Buddhist Towers: A multi-scalar evaluation of the practice, change, and function of Buddhism at the regional Angkorian center of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, Cambodia (10th to 17thc. CE)
  • Dr. Hiroko Kawanami (Lancaster University)
    Communal Jurisdiction of Non-ordained Female Renunciants in the Southern Buddhist Tradition: Myanmar-Burma, Thailand, and Sri Lanka
  • Dr. Jason E. Neelis (Wilfrid Laurier University)
    Buddhist Rebirth Narratives in Literary and Visual Cultures of Gandhara
  • Professor Vesna A. Wallace (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    The Interplay between Buddhist Texts, Images, and Rituals in Mongolian Buddhism

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Visiting Professorships in Buddhist Studies

  • Center for Asian Research for Arizona State University is awarded visiting professorship for hosting Professor Steven Collins, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago


“Believing that Buddhism has a vital role to play in addressing today’s challenges,” said Foundation Chairman Mr. Robert Y. C. Ho, “we are committing substantial resources to strengthening teaching and scholarship about Buddhism in modern society at leading universities worldwide. This is an important step towards realizing my family’s vision of developing a Buddhist Learning Network to further the study of Buddhist philosophy and broaden its impact in the twenty-first century.”

“We are proud to support, and to help implement, the vision of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation for developing an international field of Buddhist studies,” noted ACLS president Pauline Yu. “The strong response to the first call for applications confirms the importance of this program for the field. ACLS will devote its experience and its full energy to assure the success of future competitions.”

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies is administered by the ACLS. 2014 application is now open. Application guidelines are available at


About The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation

Established in Hong Kong in 2005 by Robert Hung Ngai Ho as a private philanthropic organization, the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation promotes understanding of Buddhism through Buddhist studies and Buddhist art. Its programmes include the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School; a centre and an endowed professorship in Buddhist studies at Stanford University; a Buddhist Studies Programme at University of Toronto Scarborough; the Centre for Buddhist art and conservation at The Courtauld Institute of Art; the Gallery of Buddhist sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum and various exhibitions of Chinese and Buddhist art.


About the American Council of Learned Societies

The American Council of Learned Societies is a federation of 71 scholarly societies devoted to the promotion of the humanities and related social sciences. In 2013, ACLS awarded more than $15 million in research fellowships.

Media enquiry:
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation
Janet Tong
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