The training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) and students is a top priority of this research project. In addition to regular postdoctoral fellowships, we also invite top scholars to UBC as visiting professors. They hold seminars for regular and visiting students. It is, however, the following components that distinguish our training program:
- Annual Field Visits: We plan to carry out annual fieldwork on Chinese-language religious materials, primarily in East Asia. Before the fieldwork begins, a team will be organized to train HQPs how to effectively conduct on-site research. Our aim will be to train and help develop our HQP/students’ skills in working with local partners, international peers, and to suitably identify, document, photograph and transcribe primary materials. On-site research will help our students acquire first-hand knowledge of the chief materials they are going to work with, and provide them with direct experience of the contexts from which these sources evolved. More importantly, this SSHRC-funded research program will train our students to work in diverse multicultural, international, and interdisciplinary environments. Since very few East Asian Studies programs in North America and Europe can provide instruction of this type or calibre, this aspect of our project represents a unique and important educational opportunity that will hopefully become a model for the field during and after the grant period.
- Summer and Winter Programs: Two other components of our training and fieldwork plan will include both summer and winter programs. These have been inspired by the idea of “site seminars.” In the site seminar model, one of the most effective ways to teach about religious traditions is to provide lectures about the tradition with regard to a select number of significant sites which are important to the formation and transformation of a religious tradition (or traditions) under review. Related to the summer program is a Translation Series that will provide current scholarship on East Asian religions in European languages available in Chinese translation. We have designed the project in such a way so that we will be able to turn each translation process into a valuable training opportunity for our students. By bringing a group of distinguished scholars and some of the most talented and promising students from around the world together, during daily, face-to-face interactions, these programs are, once again, designed to refine students’ intercultural communication skills, and acquire experience with building and managing international research collaboration through programs and studies.
- Visiting Studentships: We plan to establish two types of Visiting Studentships, one for students from our European and North American partner institutions to travel to and research in East Asia for 5 months, and the other for students from East Asia to spend one semester (4 months) at either UBC or a partner university in North America or Europe. Through structured mentorship, students will become skilled and confident in working with host institutions and employees in unfamiliar surroundings. These scholarship opportunities will improve language proficiency, sensitivities to and appreciation of different cultures; but more notably, through these short-term experiences abroad, our students will be expected to create and expand upon international networks that will prove invaluable for their own future career development.
In conclusion, our fieldwork and training programs creatively combine research and training to produce a new generation of scholars who will have been immersed in on-site research within a cutting edge methodological approach to the field. Research opportunities in the Humanities have historically been largely restricted to “mature” scholars, for whom students frequently serve as assistants. By contrast, by bringing together junior and senior scholars with complementary sets of analytical, linguistic, technical, and organizational skills, learning and training will follow a dynamic, bidirectional model, which will take place in classrooms, libraries, archives, and on site in East Asia.