Science and Tibetan Monks

In Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries the course of study hasn't changed for centuries. However, the Dalai Lama, has long advocated modern education, especially science because he sees science and Buddhism as complementary "investigative approaches with the same greater goal, of seeking the truth." To that end, Chris Impey, a University Distinguished Professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona has been teaching Tibetan Monks and Nuns a variety of topics from the Big Bang to multi-Universes. It's part of a program funded by the Sager Foundation called, "Science for Monks".

Prior to preparing his lessons, Professor Impey says, "I was told they can handle whatever you throw at them", however he says, "it didn't prepare me for how extraordinary they are as students just because they are so engaged." He teaches the three-week science workshop in Dharamsala, the exile home of the Dalai Lama in northern India. India is home to more than 120,000 Tibetans the largest population outside Tibet. The purpose of the program is to train the monks as teachers to that they can return to their monasteries to spread the word about science.

Professor Impey teaches his courses in English then they are translated. This is the third year Professor Impey has traveled to India to teach the workshop. About 30 monks are in the class, Professor Impey says since the program began he has, "developed a fondness for his students".