Bhutan Science Leadership Institute – Launch

(July 16 to 29, 2019)

July saw the launch of a new initiative to train monastic teacher-leaders to bring enriching engagement between science and Buddhism to their community.  The two-week institute focused on conceptual foundations of chemistry and neuroscience, and began developing leadership activities they will implement starting next year. The 35 participants in the workshop were laity-school and monastic teachers, however, none of them had previously studied science. They represented 18 of the 20 districts of Bhutan, with a combined reach of approximately 30,000 students each year. Most taught high-school aged students, and two major subjects, that included: language (Dzongkar), Buddhist philosophy, human values, and life skills. When discussing leadership, they reported kindness, empathy, fairness, hard-work, commitment, loyalty, confidence, patience, wisdom, and honesty among the leadership characteristics they associate with great leaders. Bhutan is changing fast, and the teacher-leaders joining the institute shared concerns for students’ mental health, such as increasing cases of depression, a slow but felt decline of cultural and community values, and unemployment among recent college graduates.