The Buddhist Ministry Initiative (BMI) at Harvard Divinity School—the first of its kind at a divinity school within a research university in the United States—trains future Buddhist religious professionals in terms appropriate to modern, global conditions. Drawing on the strengths of Harvard's faculty resources in the academic study of religion and Buddhist studies, the BMI coordinates a range of courses on the history, thought, and practice of Buddhism, in Buddhist languages, and in Buddhist arts of ministry. The initiative also supports the field education of Buddhist ministry students in hospitals and other sites of pastoral care, and offers the insights of Buddhist textual traditions and practices to students from all religious traditions who study ministry at HDS.
Regular faculty members and visiting lecturers teach courses on pastoral care and counseling, preaching and worship, spiritual formation, social activism, leadership, and denominational polity, highlighting the application of Buddhist principles to socially engaged action in the world. HDS courses of particular interest to students of Buddhist ministry include courses in the Buddhist studies MTS/ThM area of focus and MDiv arts of ministry courses; see Finding Courses in my.harvard for information on how to browse or search them.
Students preparing for ministry from a Buddhist perspective use their master of divinity degree education in support of a wide range of career paths, including community religious leadership; hospital, hospice, and university chaplaincy; charitable work for the poor and disadvantaged; community development and activism; nonprofit management; academic scholarship; and secondary education. The program instills a rich understanding of global issues pertaining to Buddhism and other spiritual traditions and allows for specialized study according to individual interests and aspirations.
As part of the Buddhist Ministry Initiative's efforts to build connections to Buddhist ministerial movements in Asia, the initiative offers a limited number of special scholarships to individuals deeply engaged in Buddhist communities in Asia to attend HDS for one year as BMI International Fellows. The initiative also offers funding to HDS students to participate in learning experiences throughout the world related to Buddhist ministry.
The Buddhist Ministry Initiative offers the annual Buddhist Ministry Lecture Series, open to the public, and collaborates with Buddhist and other groups across the university and in the community to foster knowledge of Buddhist ministry. See upcoming events on the HDS Public Events Calendar.
Buddhist field education placements
Buddhist ministry students have the opportunity to complete their field education requirements in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, dharma centers, nonprofits, social service organizations, schools, and universities.
International Conference on Buddhist Ministry
The Buddhist Ministry Initiative convenes international conferences to connect leaders in Buddhist organizations who are engaged in ministerial and educational initiatives relating to Buddhism in the modern world. The conference invites Buddhist clergy and ministers from both Asia and the United States and serves to forge lasting relationships among such movements across the world.