The Tibet Center at the University of Virginia
In keeping with the University of Virginia’s commitment to fostering a liberal arts education that is both globally aware and interdisciplinary in nature, the Tibet Center was founded to bring together faculty, students, and staff at UVa with those at other Universities and also other individuals and organizations, to promote a deeper understanding of Tibet’s histories, cultures, and peoples. While the Tibet Center serves as a hub for educational programs, research initiatives, and publication projects which advance the field of Tibetan Studies, it also aims to develop and support programs that will bring social benefit to Tibetan communities. See our Tibet Center administration page for details on the Center’s governance and staffing, apart from which the Tibet Center’s true vitality lays in the network of participating individuals, divisions, organizations, and communities detailed on the various pages in the About Us section.
On Grounds at UVa, the Tibet Center provides a forum for faculty, students, and staff from diverse fields, united by their expertise and interest in Tibet. Through a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, UVa students have the unique opportunity to integrate Tibet-related coursework into their curricula. Tibet Center affiliated faculty span multiple departments – including Anthropology, Art, Computer Science, East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, History, Politics, and Religious Studies — and offer courses ranging from Literary and Modern Tibetan language to Tibetan and Himalayan Anthropology and Tibetan Buddhist Culture. Through its speaker series and conferences, the Center invigorates campus-wide dialogue about Tibet by bringing Tibetan scholars and specialists on Tibet to UVa. In the past, the Tibet Center also encouraged and coordinated study abroad in Tibet, offering programs in connection with Tibet University in Lhasa and Qinghai Nationalities University in Xining. These programs were discontinued, but we hope to re-initiate them in the future. We also host a steady stream of visiting scholars from around the world, and especially Tibetans from Tibet. And finally, we offer a virtual community for associated scholars and fellows who work with UVa initiatives from afar.
Digital Engagement – Collaboration, Community, & Dialogue
While rooted in the exceptional scholarly expertise, resources, and student energy of the UVa community, the Tibet Center also participates in and facilitates broader dialogue on Tibet beyond its own borders. Thus, the Center brings together a dynamic network of individuals, including other scholars and students, librarians, technologists, social entrepreneurs, tourists, and local Tibetan communities. Utilizing transformative innovations in research and publication through digital technology and community networking, Tibet Center-supported programs forge new institutional partnerships and sponsor collaborative research projects which promote collective understandings of the complex social, cultural, historical, and material forces shaping Tibet.
In particular, the Tibetan and Himalayan Library (THL), founded at UVa in 2000 in collaboration with the UVa Library and Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, has emerged as a world leader in innovation for digital technology in relationship to higher education. It has supported scores of projects for online publication using texts, maps, video, images, and other resources, while also developing collections, reference resources, and scholarly research projects that document Tibet’s environments, cultures, and histories. THL has also focused on involvement and leadership from Tibetans themselves, including sponsoring a participatory knowledge movement to directly include local community members.