Minors & Certificates
Students completing a major in other departments can fulfill the requirements for a minor in religious studies with a minimum of 18 credit hours of religious studies courses.
Despite its modest size, Thailand has the third-largest population of Buddhists in
the world, behind only China and Japan. Buddhism has also enjoyed an unusually long
period of continuity in Thailand. As dramatic changes have swept through Thailand
and Southeast Asia in the last 50 years, Buddhism has been both highly conservative
and radically innovative. Thai monk Buddhadasa Bhikkhu expressed both aspects when
he called for a life of contemplative simplicity and social engagement to counteract
the pressures of modern materialism. It was Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh who first
gave the name “Engaged Buddhism” to this form of religious practice. Engaged Buddhism
was his answer to fellow Buddhists who asked, as the Vietnam War raged, if they should
continue their meditation practice or work to stop the war. The engaged Buddhist response
unites these two paths - the path of meditation and the path of work to relieve social
The Buddhist studies certificate program of study draws on Webster University's strengths in religious and international studies to explore the complex social reality of Buddhism in Asia today. We offer students a firsthand opportunity to study the cultural and spiritual roots of their host country, and to investigate the many ways in which contemporary Buddhists engage their changing social world - through grassroots activism, as well as through art, ritual, philosophy, institutional reform, and political debate.
Completion of the certificate requires a minimum of eight weeks residence and 9 credit hours of coursework at the Hua Hin/Cha-am campus. The remainder of the 18 credit hours may be completed (in whole or part) at Hua Hin/Cha-am, St. Louis, or any other Webster campus that offers appropriate courses.
We encourage students to approach Buddhism holistically, by embracing three forms of learning:
- Scholarship on Buddhism as a major world religious tradition;
- Face-to-face encounters with Thais and others who practice Buddhism; and
- Personal reflection that grows from grappling with Buddhism as a philosophy, as a form of transformational practice, and as a cultural reality.
Classroom discussions, field excursions, guest lectures, and opportunities for meditation practice are designed to create a multi-dimensional learning experience.