In Kyoto, where Japanese historical culture constitutes an integral part of the community, Buddhism and other traditional religions affect the everyday life of citizens in a variety of ways. The unique role and implications of religions for Kyoto are drawing much attention, both domestically and internationally.Moreover, Kyoto is home to many universities that offer specialized courses in religious studies. Accordingly, we see great significance in establishing a comprehensive academic network that links Kyoto-based graduate schools and educational institutions specializing in religious studies, and in making this network accessible from all over the world, thereby inspiring and encouraging students and researchers in this field both inside and outside of Japan. For this reason, we have resolved to establish the Kyoto Graduate Union of Religious Studies.
1.Role as an Educational Institution
The diversification of religions is accelerating worldwide. In light of this fact, there is a growing need for educational programs to foster leaders not only with a full understanding of the tradition of their own religions, but also with expertise in other sects and religions. Toward this end, the Kyoto Graduate Union of Religious Studies is poised to contribute to building a comprehensive educational infrastructure to foster next-generation researchers and religious leaders. We believe it becomes an extremely valuable experience for graduate students specializing in Buddhism to study Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and likewise for students studying Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to deepen their understanding of Buddhism and other traditional Japanese religions.
The introduction of a unit-exchange program among associated graduate schools—with a common certificate of the Kyoto Graduate Union of Religious Studies issued to students who have completed specified courses—will be an especially positive incentive for students. This will also allow us to operate the unit-exchange program with minimum adjustment to the educational systems currently employed by the respective graduate schools.
2.Role as a Research Institution
Buddhist universities and graduate schools have been carrying out several research exchange programs. Building on such academic relationships, the Kyoto Graduate Union of Religious Studies has the potential to contribute to a deeper understanding of different sects and religions from a wider perspective: specifically, by promoting exchanges of academic information and domestic and international interactions among researchers, as well as by jointly organizing lectures and symposiums.
To ensure the successful operation of the Kyoto Graduate Union of Religious Studies as an educational and research institution, we will form a Steering Committee consisting of representatives of the associated graduate schools; in addition, we will set up a secretariat to be charged with general affairs.