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Metropolitan Universities

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Community-based learning, Civic engagement, Buddhist logic -- Study and teaching


For decades, community engagement scholars have built a robust body of knowledge that explores multiple facets of the higher education community engagement domain. More recently, scholars and practitioners from mainly Christian affiliated faith-based institutions have begun to investigate the complex inner world of community-engaged students’ meaning-making and spiritual development. While most of this fascinating cross-domain effort has been primarily based on “Western” influenced Judeo-Christian traditions, this study explores service-learning/community engagement themes, approaches, rationale, and strategies from an “Eastern” perspective based on the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This case study research focuses on curricular approaches, influences, and impacts of Buddhist philosophy/spirituality on community engagement endeavors in the context of Maitripa College, an urban graduate higher education institution located in Portland, OR. Researchers corroborate key findings from previous faith-based institutional studies as well as extend the literature in two specific areas: 1) providing strategies for and discussing the role of spiritual formation and development in relation to community engagement; and 2) the Buddhist view of seeing obstacles as opportunities (Thubten Zopa Rinpoche & ʼjig-Med-Bstan-Paʼi-Ñi-Ma, Rdo Grub-Chen III, 2001) as a way to increase effectiveness and harmony in all aspects of life, including academic service-learning endeavors.


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