Science for Monks

Related Expertise: Professional Training
Date Initiated: 2001

Smithsonian works with the Sager Foundation and the Exploratorium to build science capacity in Tibetan monastic communities through the Science for Monks program. The program fulfills a mandate from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to create a mutually beneficial dialogue between Tibetan Buddhist practices and modern science.

At sites across India, Smithsonian educators and scientists facilitate workshops with Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns about Western science. Sharing our technical expertise in scientific study and our knowledge of what works in science education, Smithsonian has helped train more than 200 monks and nuns in science leadership.

We facilitate site-specific training programs that draw from current best practices and Smithsonian’s mission—the increase and diffusion of knowledge. At the end of each 3-year training program, Smithsonian works with each cohort of Science for Monks graduates to develop exhibits that share their experience with the larger community.

These exhibits, “The World of Your Senses” in 2010, and a current exhibit in development about climate change, “My Earth, My Responsibility,” communicate this dialogue between Tibetan Buddhism and modern science.

Upon completion of the program, Science for Monks graduates act as leaders within their own communities. Smithsonian continues to support these new science leaders with educational resources, workshops, support for restaging exhibits at multiple sites in India and abroad, and ongoing in-person and online conversations. With hundreds of monks and nuns trained since 2002 and 7 permanent science centers in development, Science for Monks has wide-reaching impact across India.


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In India, Smithsonian works with the Science for Monks Program to Create Intercultural Dialogue