Global Buddhism

Course content

Buddhism in the contemporary, modern world has undergone swift and dramatic transformations in the past few decades, mostly due to the influence of globalization and modernization processes. The global spread of Buddhism- including the practices, understandings and of Buddhists themselves- has led to not only a growing interest in Buddhism worldwide, but also a transformation in the way that Buddhism is practiced and understood in these global contexts. According to Martin Baumann (2001), this phase in the historical development of Buddhism can be considered to be that of ‘Global Buddhism’. This course takes a closer look at what can be considered as ‘Global Buddhism’ along with the contemporary configurations of Buddhism and the manner in which these modern and global transformations are taking place.  We will look at regional distinctions in the development of Buddhism, as well as the global spread of common trends, such as the influence of modernization, globalization, secularization on understandings of Buddhism, as well as the impact of contemporary understandings of science, psychology, meditation, politics, capitalism, etc. While Buddhism in European-American contexts quickly comes to mind when considering the impact of globalization on Buddhism, as we will see throughout the course, the global circulation of ideas regarding Buddhism has impacted not only how people in western contexts understand Buddhism, but also how Buddhism is being revitalized and transformed in Asian contexts. Covering both regional developments and trends in global Buddhism along with a discussion of theoretical approaches for analyzing these developments, students will acquire a wide range of skills which aid in examining contemporary religion in the global world. 

The course is offered as part of the research activities taking place at the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies (CCBS) at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies. During the semester, the CCBS is arranging a larger conference on ‘Buddhism, Business and Economic Relations’ at the University of Copenhagen which the students are expected to attend and actively participate. Students will have the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom by participating in the dialogue at the conference, as well as through writing on the various topics of interest. Students are also encouraged to write blog posts on topics related to Global Buddhism for the blog hosted by the CCBS. In this way, the course supports a research-based learning environment in which students learn not only about the theoretical perspectives addressed in class, but also how to apply one’s knowledge within a research environment.


Curriculum for the BA programme in Asian Studies with specialisations in Indology, Japanese Studies, China Studies, Korean Studies, Southeast Asian Studies and Tibetology, The 2010 Curriculum

Curriculum for the BA programme in Asian Studies with specialisations in Indology, Japanese Studies, China Studies, Korean Studies, Southeast Asian Studies and Tibetology, The 2015 Curriculum

Curriculum for the Elective Studies in Tibetology The 2007 Curriculum

Curriculum for Master´s Programme in Asianstudies The 2008 Curriculum

Curriculum for the BA-programme with main subject in Religious Studies, the 2010 Curriculum

Curriculum for the BA-programme with main subject in Religious Studies, the 2015 Curriculum

Curriculum for the Elective Studies in Religious Studies The 2007 Curriculum

Curriculum for the Elective Studies in Religious Studies the 2015 Curriculum

Curriculum for Master´s Programme in History of Religions The 2008 Curriculum

Curriculum for Master’s Programme in Sociology of Religion The 2008 Curriculum



Learning outcome

 Asienstudier BA 2015-ordning:
Tibetologi realia 1 med sprog (fagelementkode HTIB00831E)

Asienstudier BA 2010-ordning:
Indologisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HIDB00671E)
Indologisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HIDB00731E)
Indologisk realia 3 (fagelementkode HIDB00761E)
Japansk realia 1 (fagelementkode HJAB00671E)
Japansk realia 2 (fagelementkode HJAB00731E)
Japansk realia 3 (fagelementkode HJAB00761E)
Kinesisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HKIB00731E)
Kinesisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HKIB00761E)
Koreansk realia 1 (fagelementkode HKOB00671E)
Koreansk realia 2 (fagelementkode HKOB00731E)
Koreansk realia 3 (fagelementkode HKOB00761E)
Sydøstasiatisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HIØB00671E/HTHB00671E)
Sydøstasiatisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HIØB00741E/HTHB00741E)
Sydøstasiatisk realia 3 (fagelementkode HIØB00761E/HTHB00761E)
Tibetologisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HTIB00671E)
Tibetologisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HTIB00731E)
Tibetologisk realia 3 (fagelementkode HTIB00761E)

Religionsvidenskab BA 2010:
Valgfrit område (fagelementkode HREB00311E)
Bachelorprojekt (fagelementkode HREB00351E)

Religionsvidenskab BA 2015:
Valgfrit område (fagelementkode HRVB00061E)
Valgfrit område med sprog (fagelementkode HRVB00081E)
Bachelorprojekt (fagelementkode HRVB00091E)

Tibetologi BA tilvalg 2007-ordning:
Tibetologisk Realia A (fagelementkode HTIB10041E)
Tibetologisk Realia B (fagelementkode HTIB10061E)

Religionsvidenskab BA tilvalg 2007-ordning:
Religionsanalytisk emne A (fagelementkode HREB10091E)
Religionsanalytisk emne B (fagelementkode HREB10101E)

Religionsvidenskab BA gymnasierettede tilvalg 2015-ordning:
Valgfrit område med sprog (fagelementkode HRVB10121E)

Asienstudier KA 2008-ordning:
Tværfagligt tema:
Tibetologi (fagelementkode HTIK03021E)
Japanstudier (fagelementkode HJAK03032E)
Indonesisk (fagelementkode HFKK00356E)
Indologi (fagelementkode HIDK03021E)
Kinastudier (fagelementkode HKIK03022E)
Thai (fagelementkode HFKK00372E)

Religionshistorie KA 2008-ordning:
Speciel religionshistorie A (fagelementkode HRHK03661E)
Speciel religionshistorie B (fagelementkode HRHK03671E)

Religionssociologi KA 2008-ordning:
Særligt studeret område: Religion og politik (fagelementkode HRSK03441E)
Særligt studeret område: Regional religionssociologi (fagelementkode HRSK03481E)
Særligt studeret område (fagelementkode HRSK03431E)

Active participation and attendance is a requirement for the course, as well as coming prepared to each class by doing the readings beforehand. This is necessary in order to foster an accelerated learning environment throughout the course in which a wide number of skills will be acquired to support students in their future study, research and career prospects. Group presentations and individual written assignments, along with active group participation and dialogue are also part of the course requirements and expectations. We encourage students from a wide variety of backgrounds and study programmes to join the course so that an environment of exchange can be created which welcomes diverse knowledge and experience

Absalon will be used as a communication tool throughout the course.

Further Recommended resources to consult throughout the course:

Contemporary Buddhism, journal

Global Buddhism, journal

McMahan, D. L., Ed. (2012). Buddhism in the Modern World. London and New York, Routledge.

Bhushan, N., et al. (2009). TransBuddhism: Transmission, Translation and Transformation. Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press.

Most of the assigned reading material can be found through REX or through online academic search tools. Instead of compiling a compendium of the course material, individual searches for the articles and books to be read in class are required in order to encourage further material searches on the individual topics in preparation for the exam.

Students are also encouraged to search for and bring to class media and other sources, such as newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, films, material objects, etc. which exemplify issues regarding contemporary Buddhism.

Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • English
  • 412,5