Robert Thurman held the first endowed chair in Buddhist Studies in the West, the Jey Tsong Khapa Chair in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, before retiring in June of 2019. Educated at Philips Exeter and Harvard, he then studied Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, and Asian languages and histories for fifty years with many teachers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama (C. U. Ph.D., hc, 1989). He has written substantial scholarly works, founding and editing a new series, the Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences, through the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, the Columbia University Press, and Wisdom Publications. He also writes popular books, lecturing all over the world in the "public intellectual" tradition, with special concern for ethics and human rights in general, and the preservation of the endangered Tibetan culture and people in particular—to fulfill this last concern he co-founded and continues to serve the educational nonprofit, Tibet House US. He has also received “leadership training” in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and often lectures to motivate people to rise to the challenge of today’s climate crisis. His main academic interest continues to be the Indo-Tibetan philosophical, scientific, and psychological traditions and their history, with a view to their all-too-little-known relevance to critical contemporary currents of thought in philosophy, science and spirituality, especially concerning the undeniable role of mind in nature. He recently received the Padma Shri Award from the President of India for helping to restore greater awareness of the contribution of the Sanskrit Buddhist arts and sciences to India’s classical civilization.
Last updated May 3, 2021