In one way or another, this has been a big week for the discussion of Buddhist religious expression in Thailand and Burma.

At the other end of the world a new institution with a Buddhist hue is currently being setup. As part of a wider expansion program here at Oxford University, the United Kingdom’s first endowed professorship in Buddhist Studies has been established. According to the University’s publicity material, the post is funded by a “generous benefaction, held in trust by Balliol College, from the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) of Tokyo, which is a society for the promotion of Buddhism”. The new professor will be a fellow of Balliol College and also directly involved with the new Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.

Oxford’s news website notes that, “The [professorial] vacancy will be advertised soon with a view to making an appointment from 1 October 2007 or as soon as possible thereafter. The advertisement will be posted on the University website at“.

In even more ambitious plans, the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies is also “working towards a team of six permanent posts, including endowed Lecturerships in East Asian Buddhist Studies, Pali Buddhist Studies, Tibetan & Himalayan Buddhist Studies, Buddhist Social History and Buddhist Art”. These are potentially great steps for the University…for any University!

Depending on how broadly it is conceived, “Buddhist Social History” is one sub-discipline that is particularly relevant to the sorts of recent discussions we have hosted here at New Mandala.