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The Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (ISHB) at University of the West is devoted to the promotion of the interdisciplinary study of Humanistic Buddhism. Humanistic Buddhism, or Buddhism of the human realm, has emerged in early 20th century China as a Buddhist response to the global restructurings of the modern era. Over the last century Humanistic Buddhism has not only become the leading representative of the Chinese Mahayana tradition but expanded over the whole globe.

To understand the manifold contributions and unique characteristics of this Buddhist reform movement, the Institute believes that it is important to situate its study within the broader context of modern and contemporary Chinese Buddhism and to further pay attention to the multifaceted global entwinements that have facilitated its current form.

Located at the heart of the San Gabriel Valley ethnoburb of the Los Angeles metropolitan area with its vibrant overseas Chinese community, the Institute is particularly well-positioned to explore the history and present of modern Chinese Buddhism through a global lens.


The Institute aims to (1) encourage new directions in the academic study of Buddhism, (2) facilitate networks and conversations between scholars, religious organizations, and practitioners, and (3) enhance the visibility of Humanistic Buddhism in the broader public sphere to provide Buddhist resources that are applicable to everyday life.

The mission of the Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (ISHB): 


  • To promote interdisciplinary scholarship on Humanistic Buddhism by placing its study within the broader context of research on modern and contemporary Chinese Buddhism under the global condition. ISHB sponsors programming, which includes themed conferences, workshops/working groups for scholars, and talks. It also supports small grants to year-long fellowships—for faculty and graduate students, who are pursuing individual research projects related to the Institute’s mission.

  • To serve as a clearinghouse that provides English-language information and resources relevant to the academic study of Humanistic Buddhism and Fo Guang Shan. In addition, the ISHB disseminates information to the UWest community about related events, retreats and activities that take place at Hsi Lai temple and at other Fo Guang Shan institutions.

  • To constitute a juncture between the academic community, the American public and the global Fo Guang Shan temple network. It hosts events that engage Buddhist lay members and the wider society and supports the propagation of Humanistic Buddhism.

Dr. Jens Reinke - Mapping Modern Mahayana
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Dr. Reinke presents on his recent book, Mapping Modern Mahayana: Chinese Buddhism and Migration in the Age of Global Modernity. His research traces the global development of Fo Guang Shan by studying three locations where the Buddhist order has established roots: Los Angeles, South Africa, and the People's Republic of China. Dr. Reinke's work explores the social, cultural, and religious fibers that underlie globalization and presents them in the context of a broader discussion on contemporary Buddhism.

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Dr. Shou-Jen Kuo



Dr. Jane Iwamura

Founding Director

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Song Wang, Ph.D. Candidate

Research Assistant

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