News Archive

International prize for Religion lecturer

Ben Schonthal has been awarded the 2013 Law & Society Association Dissertation Prize for outstanding work in law and society research. The Otago Bulletin has further details.

Ven. Sudhammo presents the scholarship funds to the PVC for Humanities, Professor Brian Moloughney2012 Buddhist Studies Scholarships

The 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation Scholarships in Buddhist Studies for 2012 were presented by the Most Venerable Phrapalad Sudham Tiravanich, the Chairperson and General Secretary of the Foundation, during a visit to Dunedin in May 2013.

The two scholarships (one for $2500, and one for $1500) are awarded annually to students in Buddhist Studies who gain the best marks on RELS102. The scholarships were awarded to Ray Nukada and Andrea Hickman. Prizes were also awarded for outstanding performance on other papers in Buddhist Studies. The recipients were Jordan Adams, Laura McLauchlan, Ali Idris, and Sharnita Atam.

Professor Brian Moloughney, PVC for Humanities, acknowledged on behalf of the University the Foundation's ongoing support for two staff in Buddhist Studies, Dr Chaisit Suwanvarangkul and Dr Elizabeth Guthrie.

Buddhism appointment

We are very pleased to announce that Ben Schonthal has been appointed Lecturer in Buddhism at Otago. Dr Schonthal's research examines the intersections of law, politics and religion in late-colonial and contemporary Southern Asia, with a particular focus on Sri Lanka. He will take up his appointment in February 2013.

Research on religious education in schools

Helen Bradstock's research on religious education in schools is discussed by Tapu Misa in the New Zealand Herald.

MoU on promoting Buddhist Studies at Otago

Ven. Sudhammo and Professor Moloughney with the MoUThe University of Otago and the 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation of New Zealand and Australia have extended a memorandum of understanding for the promotion of Buddhist Studies at Otago for a further five-year term. The MoU was signed by Phrapalad Sudham Tiravanich, Chairperson and General Secretary of the Foundation, and Professor Brian Moloughney, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Humanities on behalf of the University, on 26 June 2012. Professor Moloughney expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Department and the University for the Foundation's ongoing support for Buddhist Studies. Under the MoU, the Foundation will continue to support Dr Chaisit Suwanvarangkul as Lecturer in Buddhist Studies for a further five years and provide scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Buddhist Studies at Otago. The Foundation will also part-fund a further fixed-term position in Buddhist Studies.

Research on devadasis on Radio New Zealand

Nicole Aaron's research on devadasis in contemporary south India was featured in the Radio New Zealand programme 'Spiritual Outlook' for 29 July 2012. The programme can be downloaded from the Radio NZ website. The Times of India has also taken an interest in Nikki's research.

De Carle lectures online

Professor James Cox's 2012 De Carle lectures on 'The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies' are now available as audio and video podcasts from the Humanities Lectures webpage.

Open Lecture online

Professor Bernard Faure's Open Lecture "Under the Gaze of the Stars: Japanese Buddhism and Star Mandalas" is now available for download as an audio or video podcast.

Pali course

An informal course “Introductory Pali”, will begin on Tuesday 28 February, 2012. The class will meet on Tuesdays from 5.30-7pm, in a group study room in the central library. The textbooks will be A. P. Buddhadatta, The New Pali Course (Part I & II; Colombo: The Colombo Apothecarie's Co., 1949), and Steven Collins, A Pali Grammar For Students (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2006).

For further details, please contact Venerable Maithree: maithreem@yahoo.com.

Publication of Albert Moore's Autobiography

The autobiography of the late Albert Moore, who established the study of Religion at Otago ("Phenom") in 1968, has been published. The book was launched at an event on 19 October 2011 at the University Staff Club. Copies of the book may be obtained from the Department. The price is $45 and proceeds will go to the Albert Moore Memorial Lecture Fund.

2011 Buddhist Studies Scholarships

Ven. Sudhammo presents a scholarship to Jasmin DawsonThe 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation Scholarships in Buddhist Studies for 2011 have been awarded to Jasmine Dawson and Alice Garner.

The scholarships were presented by the Most Venerable Phrapalad Sudham Tiravanich, the Chairperson and General Secretary of the Foundation, during the Oceania Observance of the United Nations day of Vesak 2011. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Mr Noppadon Theppitak (Thai Ambassador to New Zealand), Mr Viduranga Aruna Abeygoonesekera (Sri Lankan Honorary Consul), and representatives of the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions in New Zealand.

The two scholarships (one for $2500, and one for $1500) are awarded annually to students in Buddhist Studies who gain the best marks on RELS102. Prizes were also awarded for outstanding performance on other papers in Buddhist Studies. The recipients were Christopher Arnison, Weerachai Lueritthikul and Naomi Woods.

Pali course

An informal course in Pali, the language of the Theravadin Buddhist canon, will begin on Tuesday 12 July. The class will meet on Tuesdays from 3-5pm, in a group study room in the central library. The textbooks will be A. P. Buddhadatta, The New Pali Course (Part I; Colombo, The Colombo Apothecarie's Co., 1949), and Steven Collins, Pali Grammar For Students (Silkworm Books Press, 2006).

For further details, please contact Phra Weerachai: luewe161@student.otago.ac.nz - Tel. 02 1059 4965.

Islamic Studies appointment

We are very pleased to announce that Taneli Kukkonen has been appointed Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Otago. Dr Kukkonen's primary research interests are in the history of Islamic theology, philosophy, and mysticism. He will take up his appointment in January 2012.

New book: Japanese Religions on the Internet

Japanese Religions on the Internet: Innovation, Representation, and Authority edited by Erica Baffelli together with Ian Reader and Birgit Staemmler was published at the end of 2010. The book draws attention to how religion is being presented, represented and discussed on the Japanese Internet. It contributes to wider discussions about religion and the Internet by providing an important example - based on one of the Internet's most prominent languages - of how new media technologies are being used and are impacting on religion in the East-Asian context, while also developing further our understandings of religion in a technologically advanced country.

De Carle Lectures

Joy Hendry, Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the Europe Japan Research Centre at Oxford Brookes University, has been appointed to a De Carle Distinguished Lectureship and will be hosted by the Department in semester 2, 2011.

James Cox, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh, has been appointed to a De Carle Distinguished Lectureship and will be hosted by the Department in semester 1, 2012.

Visit of the Ven. Tenzin Lhundrup, Dhargyey Rinpoche

Visit of the Ven. Tenzin Lhundrup, Dhargyey RinpocheOn the 27th of January 2011, the Department was visited by the Ven. Tenzin Lhundrup, Dhargyey Rinpoche together with other teachers from the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in Dunedin. The centre was founded by the Ven. Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey in 1985. Following his death in 1995, his remains were interred in a stupa on the Otago peninsula (a picture of which appears on the home page of the Department website. In 1998, Tenzin Lhundrup was identified by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Rinpoche Geshe Dhargyey. He was accompanied on his visit by the Ven Geshe Jampa Tenzin, the newly arrived resident Lama at Dhargyey Buddhist Centre Dunedin and a distinguished graduate of Sera Je Monastery, and by the Ven. Geshe Nyima Dorjee (resident Lama at Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in Christchurch) and the Ven. Geshe Lobsang Geleg (teacher of Ven Dhargyey Rinpoche), both of whom are also graduates of Sera Je, and by Ven Jampa Drolma, an ordained nun who lives at the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre. Losang Dawa, lecturer at University of Otago Language Centre, translated our discussions. After a tour of the University and Department, the visitors were shown some items from the Library's collections by the Special Collections Librarian, Dr Donald Kerr.

Pali course

An informal course in Pali, the language of the Theravadin Buddhist canon, will begin on Tuesday 16 November. The class will meet twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-5pm, in the group study room in the central library. The textbook will be A. P. Buddhadatta, The New Pali Course, which is available for purchase online. For further details, please contact Weerachai Lueritthikul.

Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslim Cultures

The Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslim Cultures, a joint project of the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington, has established a website describing the work of the Centre.

2010 Buddhist Studies Scholarships

Ven. Sudhammo presents a scholarship to Chris ArnisonThe 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation Scholarships in Buddhist Studies for 2010 have been awarded to Christopher Arnison and Catherine Deans.

The scholarships were presented by the Most Venerable Phrapalad Sudham Tiravanich, the Chairperson and General Secretary of the Foundation, at a recent award ceremony.

The two scholarships (one for $2500, and one for $1500) are to be awarded annually to students in Buddhist Studies who gain the best marks on RELS102.

Buddhist Tipitaka presented to Otago University

To give the teachings of the Buddha is the most precious gift a Buddhist can offer. For that reason, staff at the University of Otago felt fortunate and thrilled to receive a copy of the Tipitaka (Buddhist scriptures) from the 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation of New Zealand and Australia.
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2009 Buddhist Studies ScholarshipsVen. Sudhammo presents a scholarship to Sarah Baillie

The 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation Scholarships in Buddhist Studies for 2009 have been awarded to Sarah Baillie and In-Sook Scorgie

The scholarships were presented by the Most Venerable Phrapalad Sudham Tiravanich, the Chairperson and General Secretary of the Foundation, at a recent award ceremony.

The two scholarships (one for $2500, and one for $1500) are to be awarded annually to students in Buddhist Studies who gain the best marks on RELS102.

Research briefing

Dr Will Sweetman's research is featured in the latest issue of the Otago Magazine. The briefing highlights research which resulted in the recovery of a palm-leaf manuscript, significant for the history of European scholarly engagement with Hinduism. The text, a Tamil cosmography, provided the structure for one of the most important early European works on Hinduism. The article appears also in He Kitenga, the University's annual report on research highlights.

Promotion

The Department congratulates Dr Greg Dawes on being promoted to Associate Professor. The promotion took effect from 1 February 2009.

New paper on Women in Islam

An interview in the Otago Daily Times with Dr Toni Tidswell who will be teaching a new paper on Women in Islam in 2009.

Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslim Cultures

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Otago and the Religious Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington have been awarded $365,000 as establishment funding for a Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslim Cultures. The grant was made by the Tertiary Education Commission through its fund for Encouraging and Supporting Innovation.

Buddhist Studies Scholarships

Ven. SudhammoTwo scholarships in Buddhist Studies, supported by the 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation of Australia and New Zealand were recently awarded. Michael Dent and Lauren McEwan-Nugent received their awards from the Most Venerable Phrapalad Sudham Tiravanich, the Chairperson and General Secretary of the Foundation.

The two scholarships (one for $2500, and one for $1500) are to be awarded annually to students in Buddhist Studies who gain the best marks on RELS102.

'Exceptional' PhD

Dr Greg Dawes, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, who already has a PhD in Biblical Studies, has recently completed a second PhD in Philosophy: "Theism and Explanation: a Defence of Scientific Naturalism". It was placed on the Humanities Division List of Exceptional PhD Theses, consisting of theses 'exceptional in every respect - research content, originality, quality of expression, and accuracy of presentation' and thus among the top 10% of theses examined. All three examiners recommended it for publication as having the makings of an important book.

PBRF Results

The results in the national 2006 Performance-Based Research Fund Evaluation Exercise have recently been announced. The subject score for the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Otago was 6.8 and the Departmental score was 6.6. This means the Department is the highest rated in New Zealand for research in its area.

The Department has also achieved the second highest Departmental score in the University of Otago (Philosophy at Otago was awarded the highest) and the third equal highest score of any Department at any University in New Zealand (Philosophy at Otago was first, Chemical and Materials Engineering at Auckland second). We also considerably improved our score - from 4.1 in 2003 to 6.6 in 2006.

University of Otago Religious Studies Programme