Talk will explore Buddhism in North America

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- “The Swans Came to Penn State Too,” a talk by Charles S. Prebish, will be presented from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library.

Following the change in immigration law by Canada and the United States in the mid-20th century, Buddhism exploded on the North American continent. Buddhism is now found everywhere, from the cover of Time magazine to "The Simpsons" TV show, from Leonard Cohen practicing as a Zen priest to the Dalai Lama visiting the White House.

Some estimates place the number of Buddhists on the continent as high as 6 million. This presentation traces the development of the study of North American Buddhism as it became a legitimate sub-discipline in the larger discipline of Buddhist studies. It looks at the early pioneering works of the past half-century, examining the Buddhist communities in North America, the theories that have developed to understand their growth and development, the scholarly and popular studies that have appeared in the literature, the scholars and scholar-practitioners who have offered seminal studies, Buddhist teachers — Asian and Western — who have appeared on the scene and the new emphases that have recently appeared that may shape Buddhism's development in North America in our new century. In broad perspective, this presentation will provide a new insight into the current shape of the North American Buddhist landscape.

Prebish is professor emeritus of religious studies at Penn State, where he served on the faculty from 1971 until 2006. He is also Charles Redd Chair in Religious Studies Emeritus at Utah State University, where he served from January 2007 until December 2010.

The talk is held in conjunction with the current exhibition, "The Way is in the Heart," an exhibition of publications from the Charles Prebish Buddhism Collection, on display through March 6, in the Franklin Atrium, first floor Pattee Library.

For more information on the exhibition and talk or if you anticipate needing accessibility accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, contact Jackie Esposito at or 814-863-3791.

Last Updated July 28, 2017