Welcome to the Centre for Buddhism & Psychology at the University of Toronto!
The Centre for Buddhism and Psychology is intended to serve as a resource for those interested in the burgeoning academic interest in this area of inquiry. In recent years, there has been a sustained interest on the part of academics, scholars, clinicians and students in the merits of investigating the mutual contributions of western psychological science and Buddhist psychology. This has been most evident in the widespread public interest in mindfulness meditation as an intervention for a wide array of medical and emotional disorders. The extensive empirical support for the efficacy of meditation, and the increasing body of neuroscientific studies of meditation attest to the growing scientific interest in this area.
Since 2007, an undergraduate Minor Program in Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health has been offered at New College and has grown exponentially. The minor program offers several courses that allow students to investigate the diverse ways in which Buddhist and Western psychology intersect. Specifically, there are courses on Buddhism and psychotherapy, cognitive science, mindfulness meditation as well courses on the psychological philosophy of Buddhism, applied Buddhism, and research methods in Buddhist research. There are plans to continue to expand and diversify course offerings to students in the near future and eventually offer a Major in Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health.
In addition to the Minor program, there are several additional ongoing and planned academic activities which the Centre for Buddhism and Psychology will coordinate and facilitate, and catalyze inter-departmental and inter-institutional collaborations, specifically with the Department of Psychology and the Department for the Study of Religion. These include, in addition to the minor Program, the following activities:
- A yearly Senior Doctoral Fellowship, valued at $1,500, for one student who will have the opportunity to present their research and participate in the activities of the minor. Senior Doctoral Fellows will be expected to engage with the intellectual community at New College and give an academic seminar related to their research;
- Conferences and seminars featuring recent research in Buddhism and psychology, invited lectures by prominent scholars in this area, and practical workshops on applications of Buddhism and psychology.
- A growing and active Buddhism and Psychology Student Union committed to sharing the wisdom of Buddhist psychology through weekly meditation and yoga classes, weekly discussion groups, invited speakers, movie nights, and social events;
- A peer-reviewed undergraduate journal, Upaya, published by Buddhism and Psychology Student Union which showcases the best of undergraduate writing in the area of Buddhism and psychology.
- A yearly spring conference organized by the Buddhism and Psychology Student Unionwhich highlights developments related to Buddhism, psychology and science;
- Resources for those interested in academic literature related to Buddhist psychology;
- The acquisition by the D.G. Ivey library at New College of a growing collection of texts related to Buddhism and psychology available at the University which will facilitate student research and course work.
Many of these activities are the result of several partners, including the Buddhist Education Foundation for Canada, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, Cognitive Science Department, Department for the Study of Religion, and the Department of Psychology. The breadth and depth of the activities, current and planned, are a strong indication of the vitality of the minor program and its continued growth.