Science for Monks was created through a unique partnership between the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamshala, India and the Sager Family Foundation. In addition, many several collaborating institutions and individuals have helped make this work a success.
The Library of Tibetan Works & Archives (LTWA) is an autonomous body under direct supervision of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Located within the grounds of the Tibetan Government-in-exile (though independent), the LTWA is the official National Library, Museum and Archive. In the early years of exile, refugees escaping to India carried hundreds of books out of Tibet. On the arduous journey across the Himalayas, these precious texts were often guarded above all else. Once safe in India, many of these sacred books were presented as gifts to the Dalai Lama. In order to preserve them, His Holiness conceived of and founded the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. The library is now a repository for over 100,000 significant collections of artifacts, manuscripts and other records, while also serving as a center for language and cultural education.
The central purpose of the Sager Family Foundation is to help leaders be better leaders. The foundation serves as a venture capital incubator of initiatives all over the world aimed at taking concrete baby steps to tackle difficult situations by empowering the leaders in those areas. They do it with world-class entrepreneurs through the Young President’s Organization, with Afghan women doctors, with Rwandan businesswomen, Pakistani teachers, Palestinian college students, activists in Boston through the Lenny Institute, and with Buddhist Monastic Scholars. The motivation in teaching Tibetan monastic scholars science is the possibility that through learning science these monks and nuns will develop the skills and knowledge needed to engage western scientists in intelligent discussions and that the wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism and the ideas of science could cross fertilize one another. The result from such an exchange could profoundly impact the future of humankind. The Sager Family Foundation has partnered with the Library on this unique adventure to bring science education to the rich traditions of Tibetan Buddhism since 2001.
Inverness Research is an independent and national educational research organization with its headquarters located in Inverness, California — a small town 50 miles north of San Francisco. Founded more than two decades ago, the firm is operated by Dr. Mark St. John. While Dr. St. John is the lead investigator on all studies, Inverness Research has a team of more than a dozen senior researchers around the nation who have the skills, experience and knowledge appropriate to each project the group undertakes. Inverness Research has been a critical friend to the Science for Monks project since 2008.
Since 2008,Exploratorium staff have helped lead the professional development of the monastic leaders by regularly providing faculty to support inquiry based learning and hands-on science exhibition. In 2011, the Exploratorium partnered with the Science for Monks program to launch the Monastic Graduates and Dialogue program.
In 2011, the John Templeton Foundation awarded a 1-year pilot grant to engage monastic graduates, geshes and other equivalent religious leaders. The project represents a new partnership between the Exploratorium, the Tibetan Library, and the Science For Monks program. We are excited to be able to grow our program in this new direction.
The Smithsonian Institution provides faculty that guide the monastics in preparing science exhibitions and guides the dissemination of the monks work and the project.