Spring 2020

Buddhism and Social Justice

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-249  |  Religion, as RELI-249


Sue Darlington (Section 01)


(Offered as RELI 249 and ASLC 248) How is Buddhism engaged in the world? How does contemporary Buddhism promote and inhibit social justice? This course explores how Buddhism addresses contemporary issues such as human rights, environmentalism, economic development, and gender relations in Asia and the United States. Sectarian violence, particularly between Buddhists and Muslims, will be studied as an obstacle to implementing social justice. The historical development and application of Buddhism in relation to social justice will be examined in light of traditional Buddhist concepts of morality, interdependence and liberation in comparison with Western ideas of freedom, human rights, and democracy. Case studies from Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tibet, India, and the U.S. within their broader cultural, historical, and political contexts provide examples of both progressive and conservative responses to social justice. We will consider how globalization and cultural traditions influence the process of religious and cultural change as people deal with social problems. Prior knowledge or experience with Buddhism or Asian studies is recommended.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Darlington.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Research, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020