Long-time friend, alumna and Chair of the Won Institute of Graduate Studies, Grace Song, Ph.D, has come on board as faculty this fall and will be teaching classes under the Master of Won Buddhist Studies degree program, the only higher education institution offering the study of Won Buddhism, a reformed style Buddhism synthesizes Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian teaching – outside of Korea, where the religion was founded a century ago.
The Master of Won Buddhist Studies, which is a two-year program, is designed to present Won Buddhism within a Western context that prepares students to practice and teach Won Buddhism in the United States.
Since 2002, a total of 40 students have enrolled in the Master of Won Buddhist Studies program. Many alumni who have completed the program have taken a more spiritual path and have become ordained Buddhist ministers. Those who have chosen a non-ordained route have moved on to teach courses on Won Buddhism in other institutions.
The program is also designed for lay leaders who wish to apply Buddhist studies to their current professions as therapists, counselors and meditation teachers.
“It’s a great program not only for students who want to become ordained ministers, but for people in other professions who are interested in learning more about Buddhist studies. We have students who are teaching meditation to university students and starting mindfulness intervention programs in community centers, for example and want to apply these learnings to their everyday practices,” said Rev. Song, who graduated from the program in 2006. “The program presents students with the practical application of Won Buddhist principles that helps them improve their inner selves to better help them contribute to society,” said Rev. Song.
While the seminary role of the Master of Won Buddhist Studies degree program is paired with an academic component, it also allows the flexibility for students to focus on areas of specific interest. Students can take classes on moving meditation, history of Buddhist philosophy and the applications of meditation.
When students go inward and address their own personal challenges, it enables them to better help people, according to Song. “The self-training and practice through this program gives students the ability to grow personally and engage in the community actively,” said Rev. Song.
To learn more about the Master of Won Buddhist Studies go to woninstitute.edu.