This past December, VCU faculty and members of the Jain Society met to ceremonially announce to the public their partnership to develop more curricular and co-curricular programs in Jain Studies. The Religious Studies Program in the School of World Studies offers an array of courses and programs in world religions, cultures, and spirituality. Jainism originates in India and is one of the oldest spiritual traditions in the world. At the center of Jainism is the theory and practice of ‘ahimsa’ or nonviolence.
The December program was organized by Ms. Kusum Jain, a Jain and member of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Council of Greater Richmond. The event featured Dr. Sulekh Jain, President of the Jain Association of Houston, TX and Program Director of the International Summer School for Jain Studies.
Through funding from the Jain Society, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, Dan Smith took three VCU students to India in the summer of 2011 to explore the history, ideas, and ritual practices of Jainism. For five weeks, students visited sacred sites and studied a range of topics which included: philosophy, history, ethics, spirituality and meditative practices. While still an exploratory program, Dr. Mark Wood, director of the Religious Studies Program and co-Executive Director of the School of World Studies, is working with the Global Education Office (GEO) to make the India trip a regular offering of the study abroad program.
Dr. Mark Wood discusses Jainism and VCU’s collaboration with the Jain Society.