The Dalai Lama has been named as a professor at a leading American private research institution, Atlanta's Emory University, in the first such appointment the Tibetan spiritual leader has accepted.
The appointment reflects a partnership between Emory and Tibetan exiles that includes a major project to provide a comprehensive science education curriculum to Tibetan Buddhist monks, the university said on Monday.
Emory has named the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate a presidential distinguished professor and he will deliver a lecture and take part in a conference on science and spirituality during a visit October 20-22, it said in a release.
"I look forward to offering my services to the Emory students and community. I firmly believe that education is an indispensable tool for the flourishing of human well-being and the creation of a just and peaceful society, and I am delighted to make a small contribution in this regard through this appointment," the release quoted the Dalai Lama as saying.
"I have long believed in and advocated a dialogue and cross-fertilisation between science and spirituality, as both are essential for enriching human life and alleviating suffering on both individual and global levels."
"I deeply appreciate that Emory University has made a commitment to fully collaborate with the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives to develop and implement a comprehensive and sustainable science education programme for Tibetan monastics," he added.
The Dalai Lama will also hold an interfaith session on religion as a source of conflict and a resource for peace building and is scheduled to give a public talk, "Educating the Heart and Mind," at an Emory-sponsored event.
"To have a colleague of the Dalai Lama's stature in our community will be a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to our faculty, staff and students as we strive to realize the vision of educating both the heart and mind for the greater good of humanity," Emory President James Wagner said.
"His presence will contribute significantly to fulfilling the university's strategic goals, including bringing engaged scholars together in a strong and vital community to confront the human condition."
The Dalai Lama's appointment is the most recent outgrowth of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, which was founded in 1998 to bring together the best of Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions, the release said.
Emory is recognized as one of the premier centres of study of Tibetan philosophy and religion in the West, primarily due to the university's extraordinary relationship with Tibetan Buddhist institutes of higher learning based in India, including the Drepung Loseling Monastery and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Many of Emory's university-wide strategic plan initiatives address the interface between religion and science. The Dalai Lama has pioneered in promoting a genuine and substantive dialogue between science and spirituality, the release said.
Emory's commitment to developing and implementing a science education programme for Tibetan monks and nuns will help realise the Dalai Lama's vision of offering comprehensive science education within the monastic curriculum.
As Presidential Distinguished Professor, the Dalai Lama will continue to provide private teaching sessions with students and faculty during Emory's study-abroad programme in Dharamsala, as well as provide opportunities for university community members to attend his annual teachings.
He also will make periodic visits to Emory to participate in programmes. Emory will establish a fellowship in the Dalai Lama's name to fund annual scholarships for Tibetan students attending Emory undergraduate and graduate schools, the release said.
In September 2006, the US Congress passed a bill to award the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honour, for his advocacy of religious harmony, non-violence and human rights throughout the world, and for his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue through dialogue with Chinese leadership.