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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

American Buddhism: Origins and Current Controversies

Instructor(s): Joel Smith, Religion

What form does Buddhism take in the United States? Has the US authentically adapted traditional Buddhism, or has it watered it down or corrupted it? Or is a unique form of Buddhism, American Buddhism, emerging? After an introduction to major forms of traditional Buddhism in Asia, we will trace its transmission to the West. Then we will explore current controversies about Buddhism in the US, such as power and authority, gender equality, political engagement, psychological issues, lay emphasis and conversion. We will focus on Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Vipassana as case studies. We will read and discuss teachings by well-known contemporary Buddhists in the US, as well as recent scholarship. Opportunitiesto visit nearby Buddhist monasteries will be available.

Course Offered