SIMI VALLEY, CA – The SoCal based Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF) and the Berkeley-based Graduate Theological Union (GTU) have agreed to establish a Center for Dharma Studies within the GTU, as well as the first Graduate School of Hindu Dharma Studies in higher education.
The first two courses in Dharma studies will be offered in the fall semester of 2014. Initial course offerings will include a course on the classical sacred texts of Hinduism, with emphasis on commentaries of Adi Shankara, taught by Dr. Ann Berliner, Professor Emerita at Cal State Fresno; and a course on comparative Indian ethics taught by Dr. Purushottama Bilimoria, Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Studies at Deakin University, Australia and former Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley.
In the near future are moves to enhance GTUs common M.A. and Ph.D. programs with Hindu and Dharma centered concentrations.
The Dharma Civilization Foundation, founded in Los Angeles two years ago, is an organization of academic, professional, and spiritual leaders from the Indian-American community aiming to establish the systematic study of Dharma, its interpretation and contemporary application, through the creation of academic and intellectual infrastructure in the U.S Swami Dayananda Saraswati, founder of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in the U.S. and India who had initially recommended the GTU, for a meaningful collaboration with DCF, expressed the view that the GTU’s uniqueness lies in its way of teaching – where each professor is also a practitioner of the religion. Dr. Manohar Shinde, Chairman of Dharma Civilization Foundation, said it was his hope that the GTU would be a place for the creation of a community of academic scholar-practitioners, “from many denominations both within Hindu Dharma and the other major Dharma traditions such as Jain, Buddhist and Sikh which can enrich the global discourse on engaged and applied Dharma.”
The Graduate Theological Union collaborates with U.C. Berkeley and is home to the largest doctoral program in religious studies in North America. As a consortium of independent theological schools, it includes nine Christian seminaries, a variety of centers and affiliates, including Centers for Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist studies, the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute and a Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences.
GTU President Riess Potterveld noted that, “This partnership fits perfectly the mandate of the board of trustees of the Graduate Theological Union to expand the representation of the world’s great religious traditions at this consortium and create a robust and singular place for scholars, students, and the public to engage one another to build deep mutual understanding and promote the common good.” Added Kalyan Viswanathan, the Executive Vice President of DCF, that this agreement would go toward his organization’s vision of building enduring bridges between the ancient spiritual traditions of India and modern academic environments.