3 UVa PhDs Present at University of Toronto Workshop

March 2, 2020

Three recent UVA PhDs presented at the “New Paths in Teaching Buddhist Studies” workshop at the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto, organized by Frances Garrett, UVA PhD ’04. Rachel Pang PhD’11, now at Davidson College, presented on “Teaching ‘Buddhism, Nationalism, and Violence’ as a First-Year Writing Course in the American South.” David DiValerio, PhD ’11, now Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, spoke about mindfulness in the context of a public university, with a talk titled “Technologies of the Meditative Self.” Natasha Mikles, PhD ’17, who currently teaches at Texas State University, reflected on who our audience is in Buddhist Studies classes, in “Toppling Max Müller’s Library and Other Strategies for Complicating our Imagined Students.”

All three noted that UVA had been instrumental in their development as teachers. Mikles said, “My time at UVA prepared me to step right into the classroom once I graduated. The freedom to design my discussion sections how I wanted, the opportunity to guest lecture in large classes, and the collaborative mentoring by senior faculty all served to create a solid pedagogical foundation upon which I have been able to develop my skills.” DiValerio elaborated, “The detailed and comprehensive way of studying Buddhism that I was trained in at UVA has influenced the way I teach religion now, which is to prioritize finding ways to get students to see how all of the different facets of a religion are interrelated—from literature to institutions to daily life to social formations, past and present.” Pang likewise linked the type of doctoral training she received to her approach to teaching: “I also attribute my creativity and open-minded attitude as a teacher to the interdisciplinary training I received as a doctorate student, with my advisors encouraging me to take courses in other related disciplines such as anthropology and art history. I am grateful to the UVA program for making me such a strong and experienced teacher!"

Natasha Heller, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions here at UVA, gave a keynote lecture at the workshop: “#CiteWomen in the Buddhist Studies Classroom: How Publishing Practices Shape our Teaching.”