Science Leadership for Nuns

In September, 2019, we recruited a volunteer group of 33 nuns from five different nunneries that will receive 3-years of support and training. Bi-annual institutes and nun-driven projects will provide a structure for these nun-leaders to do things, to grow their confidence and lead with vision. Nuns, as leaders of science, through the activities they facilitate, will further the dialogue with science started by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, take on new education and community development initiatives, identify and nurture new investigations with research scientists, and overall improve and strengthen monastic education.

1st Leadership Cohort

Institute I

September 3rd to 20th, 2019
Hosted by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives

Western Faculty

Tanya Baker, National Writing Project
Sonia Galaviz, National Writing Project
Lori Lambertson, Exploratorium
Hilleary Osheroff, Exploratorium

Nuns, mostly from Gelug nunneries in India, have been involved in nearly all our programs since 2008, but until 2017, nuns never comprised more than about 20% of the participating monastics in any one year. In 2017, we organized our first all-nuns program, a 4-week introductory workshop (see more…) and a 3-day conference (see more…)

“There are interesting differences and similarities in science and Buddhism. For example, a similarity is the concept of interdependence among all organisms and a difference is that science claims that mental functions are carried out by the nervous system.”

Tenzin Youdon
Monastic Graduate (Nun) Participant
(September, 2017)

The nun’s want to have the same leadership trainings as the monks, and Buddhist nuns can play an essential role in helping to strengthen and modernize this vibrant thousand-year-old learning community. We have an enduring vision of a growing and energetic network of nun science leaders that are actively shaping activities that infuse scientific inquiry while simultaneously leveraging the wisdom and practices of their learning tradition.


Some of the major Nunneries in India, Nepal, and Bhutan (we hope to reach)

Science for monks & nuns

 In 2016, after nearly 30 years of the Dalai Lama’s pushing for reform, the first Gelug nuns in India graduated with geshe degrees (equivalent of a PhD degree), and a few science questions were part of their final exam. Enough nuns in India have now been involved with science to establish an opportunity, a demand, and the nuns themselves have requested more opportunities, including an all-nuns leadership program. Nuns constitute about 10% of the overall monastic population.