Department of religions donated $ 1 million for Jainism studies


In May, the Ministry of Religion received $ 1 million to establish an in-depth research program on Jainism. The gift comes from a group of Jain donors in Illinois and the United States who wish to spread the teachings and history of the religion.

Jainism is a non-theistic South Asian religion that appeared around the same time as Buddhism in the sixe century BC Religion shares some similarities and practices with Hinduism and Buddhism. There are approximately 5.5 million practicing Jains, said assistant professor Adam Newman.

Those who practice Jainism follow three principles: the importance of non-violence, interfaith dialogue and acceptance, and non-possession, Newman said. These traits can be demonstrated by Jains’ commitment to being non-violent towards animals by practicing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

The donation, which is the largest in the history of the religion department, was designated as an endowment for a chair of Jain studies, said department head Jonathan Ebel.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a faculty member whose research and teaching programs are dedicated to the study of Jainism and the teaching of Jainism and history,” Ebel said.

However, the time it will take to hire a dedicated Jain Studies professor depends on the approval process and may take a few years to hire someone to fill that position.

“We don’t really have control over when this can happen, as the approval process for hiring new faculty is a process that involves the needs of many departments,” Ebel said. “In a way, we are at the mercy of LAS and the University. We will start applying for this position this year and hopefully we will approve it within the next couple of years. “

Until the demand for the post can occur, the department plans to incorporate Jainism into its other courses. Newman plans to spend more time on Jainism in his REL 286: Introduction to Hinduism and Graduate Program Seminar.

“I plan with my Intro to Hinduism (course) to expand my unit on Jainism because a lot of the students are familiar with Buddhism or Hinduism but not so much with Jainism,” Newman said. “Emphasize Jainism. This is what I foresee in a year and a half.

In addition to integrating Jain studies into existing classes, the allocated money could potentially be used to organize Jain events and lecture series. It is also possible for the department to organize a symposium or hire part-time lecturers or faculty to help with Jain teaching, Ebel said.

While it will be some time before Jainism classes are introduced in college, religion students are thrilled with the addition.

“I’m just happy that the department is increasing its courses and programs on other South Asian traditions,” said graduate student Maxine Katz.

Students from all fields can take religion classes. Ebel said the study of religion has useful applications in the real world.

“It’s also true that, in a subtle way, these cultures are ours,” Ebel said. “We live and work on a campus in an incredibly religiously diverse state. This is not an anomaly of your college experience. This is the way your world is going to be. By learning about different religious traditions, you also develop knowledge and skills that will come in handy in the workplace.

Religion can also be tied to other majors, Katz said.

“Religion is important to anyone who studies because it means a lot to people and to society as a whole,” Katz said. “Political science, psychology, history, and sociology all play a role in the academic study of religion for me, so I find the fluidity of the theoretical side of the academic study of religion interesting.”

As the department plans what to do with the money until it gets approval for the faculty hiring process, there is a sense of excitement, Newman said.

“There is so much potential, and this is a unique opportunity that has been given to us,” Newman said. “Jainism is not widely taught or even widely studied, so this opportunity has been given to us is just fantastic and exciting.”

[email protected]


About Author

Leave A Reply