Smithsonian Global

Science for Monks

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Smithsonian works with the Sager Foundation and the Exploratorium to build science capacity in Tibetan monastic communities through the Science for Monks program. The program fulfills a mandate from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to create a mutually beneficial dialogue between Tibetan Buddhist practices and modern science.

At sites across India, Smithsonian educators and scientists facilitate workshops with Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns about Western science. Sharing our technical expertise in scientific study and our knowledge of what works in science education, Smithsonian has helped train more than 200 monks and nuns in science leadership.

We facilitate site-specific training programs that draw from current best practices and Smithsonian’s mission—the increase and diffusion of knowledge. At the end of each 3-year training program, Smithsonian works with each cohort of Science for Monks graduates to develop exhibits that share their experience with the larger community.

These exhibits, “The World of Your Senses” in 2010, and a current exhibit in development about climate change, “My Earth, My Responsibility,” communicate this dialogue between Tibetan Buddhism and modern science.

Upon completion of the program, Science for Monks graduates act as leaders within their own communities. Smithsonian continues to support these new science leaders with educational resources, workshops, support for restaging exhibits at multiple sites in India and abroad, and ongoing in-person and online conversations. With hundreds of monks and nuns trained since 2002 and 7 permanent science centers in development, Science for Monks has wide-reaching impact across India.

 

People

Bryce Johnson  

Bryce Johnson is a scientist-teacher with a love of inquiry and hands-on learning and a background in environmental science and education. He lived in Dharamsala, India, for two years from 1999-2001, where he worked at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives to launch the Science for Monks program.

Ven. Geshe Lhakdor  

A distinguished Buddhist scholar, Geshe Lhakdor was the English translator for His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, from 1989 to 2005. As Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, Geshe facilitates the Science for Monks program and shares his own expertise as a scholar of science and philosophy.

Stephanie Norby  

As the Director of Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA), Stephanie provides leadership in education at Smithsonian. Stephanie also directs the creation of the Smithsonian Learning Lab, a new web-based platform for the discovery and creation of personalized learning experiences.

Scott Schmidt  

Scott Schmidt is a maker and exhibits production manager at the Smithsonian. At Smithsonian Institution Exhibits, Scott’s team provides the Smithsonian community and affiliates with an array of exhibits services. 

Tracie Spinale  

At the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA), Tracie collaborates with communities worldwide to create cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary learning experiences. She also manages SCLDA’s internship program, the Fellowships in Museum Practice program, and the Smithsonian’s Education Awards Program.

Stephanie Norby  

As the Director of Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA), Stephanie provides leadership in education at Smithsonian. Stephanie also directs the creation of the Smithsonian Learning Lab, a new web-based platform for the discovery and creation of personalized learning experiences.

Geoffrey “Jess” Parker  

Jess oversees the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) forest-monitoring plot in Edgewater, MD. The forest ecology research he directs at SERC helps to create a baseline for judging how climate change affects temperate forests globally.