It’s been well over a year since the last time I posted on this site. The past five years have been rather full. Part of that time was consumed with the completion of my book (and then another book); and the rest of the time was filled with institutional obligations. In short, the Institute has been engaged in a process of seeking regional accreditation, a process nearing some form of initial completeness. We are now awaiting the commission’s determination, to come in February; and following this, I imagine the next five years of my professional life will be focused on another book project and some impending transitions at the Institute.
The accreditation process and impending transitions (folks retiring, searches for new faculty and staff) have had me thinking a great deal about organizations, institutions, communities, and the larger systems in which they are invariably embedded — the broader landscape of higher education, the subset of that landscape that covers graduate programs, the micro-ecosystem of Buddhist higher ed, and, of course, capitalism. For the past several years, in ways overt and implicit, in ways fully of our own choice and ways compelled by those larger systems, we’ve re-made the Institute in some fairly significant ways. The next several years will see further developments owing to the natural changes that come with the addition of new persons to any organization, to any community.
Meanwhile, I continue on with a research project focused on the activities of Japanese American Buddhists in the mid-twentieth century. Should you happen to be in San Diego next month, you can get a taste of what I’m up to. This is work that I’ve been giving whatever free attention I can to, often piecemeal, over the last couple of years, often compelled by invited talks or conferences to put something coherent onto the page. Moving forward, I believe I’m ready to move on from the merely thinking about the project phase and into the actual writing of the book phase — another couple years to be sure. And whereas this project is, in some sense, “merely academic” (another historical account of Buddhism’s development in modern world), it impresses itself upon the present. It is, in its own way, focused on a community building project at another transitional period in time; like all histories, it needs to be approached on its own terms while offering lessons for us in the present.
These confluences of half-formed thoughts and stray ideas compel me to dust off the shelves of this blog and start putting things out there again. It seems to me that there are institutional things worth amplifying, things I’ve thought of as merely “for the community” that may, nevertheless, be of interest to others (such as my monthly, rambling “Dean’s newsletter“), as well as my own reflections on the nature of higher (and Buddhist) education (in this, I am inspired by the recent writing of Pierce Salguero). At the same time, as I progress in my research and writing, there may be things worth sharing, points along the road where feedback will be most welcome, where there will be the necessity of me doing something I’m not particular skilled at — self-promotion.
And so here we are. Expect more, soon.