The International Association of Buddhist Universities, IABU, is an international forum for institutes of Buddhist higher education to network, understand, and benefit from the richness and variety of the multinational Buddhist tradition. There are already excellent international organisations which bring Buddhist scholars together; but those organisations, for example, the IABS and the AAS, bring together Buddhist scholars only at the individual level. The IABU is the first global forum that brings entire institutions together. As such, it provides new challenges as well as opportunities to those involved.
The IABU was formed quite recently, on May 28th, 2007/2550, upon the culmination of the first ever symposium of Buddhist Universities held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. The symposium was a part of the celebrations at the United Nations Day of Vesak, organised by Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (www.mcu.ac.th) and sponsored by the Royal Government of Thailand.
The members of the IABU are institutes of higher education. All relevant institutions in the world are welcome to join. Some of those institutes have only one mission: to educate students to understand and practise the Buddha-Dharma. Others will cover a full range of academic subjects, but all of them display a significant commitment to Buddhist Studies, and will operate according to Buddhist values and promote Buddhist principles. Some will bear the formal title ‘university’, and some that of college, Academy, etc. All will teach Buddhist Studies and have the power to award degrees. However, there is also a place in the Association for units from within larger bodies. If a Buddhist Studies Centre is more or less autonomous and can award degrees via the higher-level institution of which it is part, then it too shall be granted membership.
The IABU will function mainly through its Executive Council and International Secretariat. Currently, we are in the process of organising the Secretariat, to be based at MCU, and consolidating networking.
In the near future, the IABU expects to develop a variety of collaborative efforts-- for instance, members’ recognition of each other’s qualifications, as well as exchanges in administration, teaching, research and outreach.