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UK university launches new Jainism programme, enrollments to begin from January

The University of Birmingham on Wednesday announced the launch of a new teaching and research programme in Jainism, which will open for enrollment from January 2023.

The University of Birmingham said, being located in a religiously and culturally diverse city, the local Jain community has been part of the Birmingham Council of Faiths since its beginnings in the 1970s. (Photo: Twitter)

By Press Trust of India: The University of Birmingham on Wednesday announced the launch of a new teaching and research programme in Jainism, which will open for enrollment from January 2023.

A group of Indian-origin philanthropists belonging to the Jain community, including Dr Jasvant Modi representing US donors and Nemu Chandaria representing UK donors, made a gift of USD 1.5 million towards the establishment of the “world-leading” programme.

Rolling out from September 2023, the new programme features the creation of an Assistant Professorship in Jain Studies, an Assistant Professorship in the Ethics of Non-Violence, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Jain Studies.

“The generosity of our donors means that we have the opportunity to establish a world-leading centre of excellence in Jainism at the heart of one of the world’s most culturally and religiously diverse cities,” said Professor Charlotte Hempel, Head of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham.

“I look forward to welcoming students and researchers to this tremendously exciting project, which we believe will enhance understanding of Jainism around the world over the coming years,” she said.

Named after an apostle of unconditional non-violence, the Bhagavan Dharmanath Jain Studies programme will develop teaching and research in relation to contemporary issues, such as environmental protection, human rights and interfaith dialogue.

“I am delighted that the University of Birmingham is launching a Jain Studies programme named after the Jain apostle Bhagavan Dharmanath, whose teaching represents what I consider to be three pillars of a modern democratic society,” said Dr Jasvant Modi.

“The Jain doctrine of ahimsa (non-violence) teaches us to avoid harming of any life form; the doctrine of aparigraha (non-possessiveness) teaches us to keep only what we need for ourselves and give the rest to others; and the doctrine of anekantvad (many-sidedness) teaches us to respect everyone’s opinion. I am excited that our donation will enable academics and students at the University of Birmingham to explore subjects which are relevant to these concepts in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion,” he said.

The University of Birmingham said, being located in a religiously and culturally diverse city, the local Jain community has been part of the Birmingham Council of Faiths since its beginnings in the 1970s.

Jainism, an ancient religion originating from India, has non-violence, self-control, compassion and non-possessiveness at its core. The Jain principle of non-violence or “ahimsa” profoundly influenced India’s vegetarianism, movements of passive resistance and, more recently, environmental engagement, the university notes.

Its academic team will jointly cover a wide range of topics, including Jain philosophy of religion, peace and conflict resolution, forgiveness, environmental ethics, ecology, human wellbeing, women’s rights, animal rights and business ethics.


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