UBC Himalaya Program Annual Lecture

The UBC Himalaya Program Annual Lecture was established in order to create an interdisciplinary and inclusive node for Himalayan Studies in Canada by drawing together faculty, students, and community members from across UBC and the Lower Mainland for exchange. The lectures will provide a platform for sharing of  scholarly work and insights about Himalayan region, including Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Tibetan cultural zones that traverse all of these countries. Furthermore, the public lectures will connect with the general public and Himalayan community partners in Vancouver and the Lower Mainlands, such as the NCSBC and Tibetan Cultural Society depending on the focus of the respective year. 

Please click below to learn more about each lecture:

"Gender in Himalayan Buddhism: Glacial Shifts in Attitudes and Institutions," with Ven. Prof. Karma Lekshe Tsomo


March 7, 2022, held virtually on Zoom.

Please click the following link to view the recording of this event: https://youtu.be/xPVPqXBj36I

Lecture description: The very mention of Himalayan Buddhism conjures visions of an exotic tradition. A gong reverberating amidst resonant baritone voices. A red-robed monk gliding serenely off into the sunset. Delightful young acolytes giggling and blowing bubbles. But where are the women and how long will it take for them to get in the picture?

Although there are many inspiring images of awakened women in Buddhist iconography, conditions on the ground are not always as enlightened. In the Himalayan region, almost all religious leaders are male and contradictions between the Buddha’s egalitarian teachings and the patriarchal structuring of Buddhist institutions are stark. In recent years, however, significant changes have been taking place for Buddhist women around the world. Major challenges still lie ahead but the shift in attitudes and opportunities for women in Himalayan Buddhist societies has been quite remarkable. What accounts for this shift? Awakening, the goal of the Buddhist path, is ultimately beyond gender. The challenge is to how to translate this noble ideal into practice, for the good of all.


As part of her visit, Ven. Prof. Karma Lekshe Tsomo also participated in a roundtable discussion with 10 graduate students, and made two undergraduate class visits in ASIA 431 TIbetan Literature, Genres, and Book Culture (Instructor: Dr. Dagmar Schwerk) and ASIA 311 Tibetan Buddhism (Instructor: Prof. Tsering Shakya) at the Department of Asian Studies.

Karma Lekshe Tsomo, a specialist in Buddhist studies, has taught at University of San Diego since 2000. She offers classes in Buddhist Thought and Culture, World Religions, Comparative Religious Ethics, Religious and Political Identities in the Global Community, and Negotiating Religious Diversity in India. Her research interests include women in Buddhism, death and dying, Buddhist feminist ethics, Buddhism and bioethics, religion and politics, Buddhist social ethics, and Buddhist transnationalism. She integrates scholarship and social activism through the Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women and Jamyang Foundation, an innovative education project for women in developing countries, with 15 schools in the Indian Himalayas, Bangladesh, and Laos.