Call for Applications: Training Program on “Buddhism and Ethnicity in the Period of Sixteen Kingdoms and Northern Dynasties”

Call For Applications

We are pleased to announce a call for applications for a summer 2018 Harvard-Yenching/Peking University Joint Advanced Training Program in Beijing:

Buddhism and Ethnicity in the Period of Sixteen Kingdoms and Northern Dynasties

2018 PKU-HYI International Summer Training Workshop
Held at Peking University from June 23 – July 1, 2018
Application Deadline: April 20, 2018
Download Call for Applications [PDF]
Download Call for Applications [Word]
Download Application Form [PDF]
Download Application Form [Word]
Program Introduction: 

The Sixteen Kingdoms and the Northern Dynasties were an important period in Chinese history in which nomadic groups from the northern steppe expanded southwards. During the two-hundred-year-long reign, from the fourth to the sixth centuries AD,under various ethnic groups the northern region saw severe conflicts erupt among different ethnic groups. Even so, these groups proved able to cooperate, which enabled of Chinese civilization to flourish. Undoubtedly, Buddhism played a central role in this development. How may we achieve a comprehensive understanding of the interaction among foreign religions, heterogeneous ethnic groups and Chinese traditional culture and social structure at that time? This is a key question that inspires many scholars.

Thanks to advances in archeology and art history since the 20th century, a large amount of materials from this period have been uncovered and reinterpreted. Abundant cave-temples and statues, as well as other relics, including monastery sites, storage-holes and tombs, call for interdisciplinary collaboration to yield new insights for Buddhist Studies. It is a challenging but exciting task to build upon recent achievements by historians and archeologists to obtain deeper insight into Buddhism during this period from multiple disciplinary perspectives including religious studies, philosophy, ethnology, archeology and art history. The northern ethnic groups had close political and military ties with Central Asian nations and nomadic powers. Overtly or covertly, there existed exchange and interaction among Chinese culture, Indian culture, Western Asia and even Roman culture. Therefore, the study of “Buddhism and Ethnicity in the Period of Sixteen Kingdoms and Northern Dynasties” must take into account archaeological discoveries and related academic research outside of China.

In June 2017, the Center for Buddhist Education and Research of Peking University held its first postgraduate summer seminar / training workshop of Buddhism and Ethnicity in the Sixteen Kingdoms and Northern Dynasties. Twenty-eight outstanding students from 18 domestic and international universities and research institutes participated in the intensive course. Eight professors from Peking University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, and Beijing Normal University gave fine lectures and guided younger scholars toward interdisciplinary academic communication. In the last half-day of the trainee forum, trainees presented their own papers and thereby inspired each other. This year, from June 23 to July 1, 2018, the 2nd International Summer Seminar / Training Workshop for Graduate Students and Young Scholars will be held at Peking University. The program will be hosted by the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies of Peking University and the Center for Buddhist Education and Research of Peking University. In this program we will continue to strive for an in-depth study of Buddhism and ethnic relations during this historical period to develop better understanding of the social and ideological changes underway during the 4th-6th centuries.

Lecturers in this year’s program include Chinese scholars from universities such as Peking University, Tsinghua University and Wuhan University, as well as overseas scholars from Harvard University and other universities in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Their topics will include relations between the Han people and “barbarians”, the “Sinification” of foreign ethnic groups, material culture and intellectual history, Buddhism and Daoism, political-social context, etc. There will be two round-table discussions about (1) the practice of scriptural interpretation in Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism; and (2) the relationship of Buddhist visual arts to social groups and cultures. In this program, we expect that young scholars will focus on the manifestations and historical process of the early localization of Buddhism in China, as well as the “Sinification” of alien ethnicity and its possible reverse process in Chinese society, and the complex interplay among ethnicity, religion and culture. Students who hope to apply for the program should submit one academic paper (5000-15000 words) and one research proposal (1000 words or more) related to the theme of “Buddhism and ethnicity in the period of Sixteen Kingdoms and Northern Dynasties”.

All graduate students (mainly doctoral students) and young scholars (including young instructors, professors and post-doctoral fellows) from Chinese universities and academic institutions (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) as well as other countries and regions are eligible to apply. Based on the quality of application materials, no more than 20 participants will be selected. Participants’ research proposals will receive individualized guidance from invited experts along with inter-disciplinary communication among peer trainees. Participants’ academic papers will be compiled into volumes to be presented in the student forum.

After the training program, the Harvard-Yenching Institute may offer the opportunity for a very small number of outstanding trainees from Asian universities and institutions to visit the Harvard-Yenching Institute for a one-year research stay during the 2019-20 academic year with support of an HYI fellowship.

Theme: Ethnicity, Religion and Cultural Construction: Buddhism in Northern China during the 4th-6th centuries


  1. The Relationship among Ethnic Groups, Politics, Society and Buddhism in the Period of Sixteen Kingdoms and Northern Dynasties
  2. Translation and interpretation of Buddhist scriptures, system of practice and regional centers of Buddhism
  3. Buddhist arts in Pingcheng, Luoyang, Chang’an, Qingzhou and other places
  4. Argument on Hua-xia and “barbarians”, aristocrats, imperial power and conflicts between Buddhism and Daoism
  5. The interaction of Indian Buddhism, Central Asian Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism in the 4-6th centuries AD

Lecturing Faculty: 5-6 Chinese faculty, 3-4 English-speaking faculty and 1 Japanese faculty

Languages: Chinese and English

Round-table Discussion: 

  1. Chinese Metaphysics, Confucianism and Buddhism – Practice of Interpreting Classics in the Northern Dynasties
  2. Belief, Ethnicity and Art – The Evolution of Medieval Buddhist Visual Art

Student Forum: Panels depending on the papers of trainees

Admission: This training program will recruit 20 trainees under 35 years old, mainly young college teachers, postdoctoral fellows, doctoral students and upper-level master’s degree students. The professional background of all trainees shall be in academic fields related to this training program, including but not limited to religious studies, ethnology, archeology, art history, Chinese philosophy, Chinese history, Central Asia history, and linguistics.

Students and young scholars from China (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) and other countries and regions are eligible to apply. Applicants from overseas must be able to read, understand and communicate in Chinese. English proficiency is also required for every participant.

Outstanding trainees may be invited to join the research team of the Center for Buddhist Education and Research, Peking University in follow-up research. They may also be considered for a fellowship to spend an academic year in residence at the Harvard-Yenching Institute.

Trainees who successfully complete the training program will be issued an official certificate.

Cost and Subsidy: All trainees are exempt from tuition fees. Accommodation fees for trainees outside of Beijing are covered by Peking University. Accommodations are not provided for Trainees from Beijing.

All trainees should pay for their own meals and transportation.

Master’s and Ph.D. students from mainland China who complete the training program will receive a subsidy of RMB500-1000.  


  1. Application Form [Download – PDF]  [Download – Word]
  2. One academic paper (5000-15000 characters)
  3. Research Proposal (1000 characters or more)
  4. Applicants from mainland China are required to submit proof of school or institution (with official seal); Students outside of mainland China need to submit a recommendation letter from their advisor.

Applicants are also welcome to offer other materials, such as certificates of language levels.

Please send the electronic version (WORD or PDF) of application materials by email or WeChat to the following contacts by April 20, 2018

The program public email address:

If there are any questions, please contact the following secretaries:
Zhang Yansen:  WeChat:  zhang82300503
Wang Kang:   WeChat: IsciyAna









时间:2018年6月23日至7月1日   [6月23日报到,7月1日离校]





  1. 十六国北朝的民族关系、政治社会与佛教传播
  2. 十六国北朝的佛典翻译、经典诠释、修持体系与佛教区域中心
  3. 邺城、洛阳、平城、长安、青州等地的佛教艺术
  4. 夷夏论、士族、皇权与佛道之争
  5. 公元4-6世纪印度佛教、中亚佛教与中国佛教的互动


















张焱森  微信号zhang82300503
汪  康   微信号IsciyAna


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