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    February Workshop | Teaching Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism

    Arkansas NCTA and the University of Central Arkansas present "Teaching Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism", a two-day, interactive workshop taking place February 25th and 26th. This workshop features presentations from nationally-recognized scholars and offers events for both students and educators to learn about the history of China's foundational religio-philosophical schools.

    Confucius Laozi Buddha

    The “Three Teachings” of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism first emerged in China thousands of years ago, but their influence can still be felt today in many aspects of East Asian culture, politics, and society today. Moreover, scholarly perspectives on the origins, development, and lasting influence of the Three Teachings have continued to grow and evolve. This two-day, in-person, interactive workshop is intended for non-specialists and explores these  religio-philosophical schools, their individual worldviews, how they have coexisted, and their lasting influence on East Asia and the world. Featuring presentations from nationally-recognized scholars on the cutting edge of research into Chinese thought, the workshop will also equip instructors with concrete strategies for introducing these schools of thought in the classroom and exploring why they matter today. Please join us in forming a more nuanced understanding of East Asia through the lens of Confucianism, Daosim, and Buddhism. 

    The workshop consists of three separate events, which participants are welcome to attend individually:

    Friday, February 25, 2022

    2:00 - 5:00 PM: Thematic Workshop | New Approaches to Chinese Thought (on Zoom)

    • 2:00 PM: Welcome and Introduction to the Workshop

    • 2:10 PM: Presentation #1 “One Yin, One Yang: This is the Way | The Book of Changes and the Origins of Chinese Philosophies and Religions” Dr. Nicholas Brasovan, University of Central Arkansas

    • 2:40 PM: Presentation #2 “The Huainanzi and the Quest for Universal Philosophy” Dr. Alexus McLeod, University of Connecticut

    • 3:20 PM: BREAK

    • 3:30 PM: Presentation #3: “Contemplative Pedagogy in a Buddhist Studies Classroom” Dr. Gloria (I-Ling) Chien, Gonzaga University

    • 4:10 PM: Presentation #4: “Appreciating and Complicating Multi-ethnic China” Dr. Natasha Mikles, Texas State University

    • 4:50 PM: Wrap-up

    6:00 PM: Keynote Lecture w/ Dr. Peter Hershock (on Zoom)


    Saturday, February 26, 2022

    8:30 AM - 3:30 PM | Pedagogical Workshop @ UCA Brewer Hegeman Conference Center, Rm. 111 and 113

    • 8:30 AM: Coffee and baked goods + Welcome

    • 9:00 AM: Presentation #1 “All Under Heaven: The Foundations of Chinese Philosophy and Religion” Dr. Nicholas Brasovan, University of Central Arkansas

    • 10:00 AM: Presentation #2 “How Do You Teach a Perspective? Theory, Practice, and Method in Daoism” Dr. Alexus McLeod, University of Connecticut

    • 11:00 AM: BREAK

    • 11:10 AM: Presentation #3 “A Multisensory and Reflective Buddhist Studies Classroom” Dr. Gloria (I-Ling) Chien, Gonzaga University

    • 12:10 PM: LUNCH

    • 1:20 PM: Presentation #4 “Awkwafina Teaches the Analects: Moving Beyond Textual Encounters in the Classroom” Dr. Natasha Mikles, Texas State University

    • 2:20 PM: Roundtable / Q & A / Evaluation

    • 3:30 PM: Workshop Adjournment


    Here is the link to attend all workshop events on Friday, February 25th: https://uca-edu.zoom.us/j/86785770210


    Registration Link: https://forms.gle/2oMuk2QGrvJc5jRJ7


    Benefits to Educators:

    - 6 hours of professional development credit

    - Classroom applicable content and materials on Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism

    - Complimentary lunch 

    - Priority enrollment for future NCTA programming


    Presenting Speakers:

    BrasovanDr. Nicholas Brasovan

    University of Central Arkansas

    Dr. Nicholas Brasovan received a PhD in Philosophy with an area of specialization in Chinese philosophy from the University of Hawai'i. He has published several articles, chapters, a book, and an edited volume in Asian philosophies and religions, and he is a recipient of a Senior Fulbright Scholarship for studying at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China (2018-2019). Since his tenure at UCA he has taken up study in computer science to prototype projects in digital humanities.


     Thematic Workshop Presentation:

    "One Yin, One Yang: This is the Way | The Book of Changes and the Origins of Chinese Philosophies and Religions"

    The Book of Changes has served as a fountainhead of Chinese philosophies and religions from ancient times to present day. The Book of Changes (or Yijing) is a one-of-a-kind text that evolves over centuries in the recesses of history from a manual for forecasting the future into a naturalistic cosmology, humanistic ethics, and empirical epistemology. This presentation introduces the different strata of symbols and text that constitute this artifact. To this end, we analyze the key concepts that define the book's unique cosmology, ethics and epistemology. Specifically, we here analyze the concepts of yin and yang, the category of the Ultimate, creativity, harmony, and the Confucian trinity of the Heavens, the Earth, and Persons. We will demonstrate how the text integrates cosmology and humanism to present a profound and comprehensive vision of what it means to be a person-in-the-world.

    Pedagogical Workshop Presentation:

    "All Under Heaven: The Foundations of Chinese Philosophy & Religion"

    This presentation narrates a history of religious and philosophical ideas in classical China. This narrative describes ancient Chinese religious practices (divination and rites) and the formation of early Chinese kingdoms, states, and empires. Within this context we focus on the classical Confucian canonical texts: The Four Books and Five Classics. Here we introduce, analyze, and connect key terms and passages from classical Chinese philosophies. In this survey of the Confucian canon, we shall reach a clearer understanding of how Confucian philosophy and religion understands and evaluates people and the world. From Shang Oracle Bones to the Book of Changes (Yijing), this exploration will take us into some of the oldest artifacts and texts in the world, and it will disclose a complex cosmology and philosophical anthropology that persists in mores and norms in China to this day.

     gloria iling chienDr. Gloria (I-Ling) Chien

    Gonzaga University

    Dr. Gloria (I-Ling) Chien is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University. She conducts bibliographic analysis of the Tibetan Buddhist master Tokmé Zangpo's (1295-1369) biographies and Collected Works in order to shed light on the cultural legacy of Tibetan Buddhist lojong, or mind training, a particular type of compassion meditation. These academic pursuits have taken her to Nepal, India, China, and Tibet. Inspired by her research, Dr. Chien became a certified teacher in Cognitively-Based Compassion Training. 

    Thematic Workshop Presentation:

    "Contemplative Pedagogy in a Buddhist Studies Classroom"

    The burgeoning application of contemplative pedagogy (CP) in Buddhist studies courses has been widely discussed. Drawing from the speaker's research on CP and her application of CP in the classroom, Dr. Chien will briefly examine the concept of contemplation and move to navigate CP's most discussed tenet: the inclusion of first-person, second-person, and third-person approaches. Next, Chien will argue that integrating these approaches with teaching helps foster a multidimensional environment for learning Buddhism. As the implication of proselytizing and the issue of separating religion and the state are concerns for conducting CP activities, Chien will suggest methods for mitigating them from her experience as a certified instructor in Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), a contemplation program developed at Emory University. By examining CP theory and offering specific examples, this talk will conclude that employing CP facilitates students' holistic development and deepens their understanding of Buddhism.

    Pedagogical Workshop Presentation:

    "A Multisensory and Reflective Buddhist Studies Classroom"

    In this hands-on workshop, Dr. Chien will lead four activities to facilitate students' experiential learning in Buddhism. Participants can adapt these exercises to teach in an undergraduate survey course or K-12 school. Chien will also introduce the relevant Buddhist texts and concepts for the following activity designs. (1) A cognitive aspect in mindfulness by examining a beer commercial and an excerpt from the Pali text The Questions of King Milinda. (2) Active listening in the context of Bodhisattva practice as interpreted in Thich Nhat Hanh's "Diet for a Mindful Society." (3) A kinesthetic dimension through a movement activity with choreography based on the poems recorded in the Chinese Chan text Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. The workshop will conclude with a discussion on how a multisensory and reflective classroom expands students' ways of knowing. 

    alexus mcleod

    Dr. Alexus McLeod

    University of Connecticut

    Dr. Alexus McLeod is Professor of Philosophy and Asian/Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut. He works primarily in Global and Comparative Philosophy, particularly early Chinese (Han and Pre-Han) and Mesoamerican Philosophy.



    Thematic Workshop Presentation:

    "The Huainanzi and the Quest for Universal Philosophy"

    Pedagogical Workshop Presentation:

    "How Do You Teach a Perspective? Theory, Practice, and Method in Daoism"

    natasha miklesDr. Natasha Mikles

    Texas State University 

    Dr. Natasha Mikles is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Texas State University where she teaches classes on Asian and World Religions. Her research examines the intersection of popular literature and religious traditions, specifically in Tibet and China.


     Thematic Workshop Presentation:

    "Appreciating and Complicating Multi-ethnic China"

    Using Tibetans and Chinese Muslims as case studies, this presentation reflects on discussing and studying China as a multi-ethnic nation with a complex history. Although 98% of the Chinese people identify as the Han ethnicity, the Chinese government celebrates the 55 official minority ethnicities as important parts of multi-ethnic China. This particular model has a convoluted history that stretches back over centuries and often does not neatly fit onto the simplistic narratives found in either contemporary American or Chinese media. How do we balance presenting a diverse picture of contemporary China with respecting the cultural and political histories of various cultural groups? How do we respect and frame the sometimes contradictory experiences of ethnic minorities in China today? How do we ensure cultural groups like Chinese Muslims do not slip between our intellectual boundaries to be overlooked or forgotten? This presentation invites conversation on these questions.

    Pedagogical Workshop Presentation:

    "Awkwafina Teaches the Analects: Moving Beyond Textual Encounters in the Classroom"

    This workshop focuses on strategies for utilizing digital materials in our classrooms outside of canonical Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian texts. While American students have historically learned about Asian religions through reading texts, this strategy presents a skewed picture that often does not match with how these traditions are actually lived. Through utilizing unexpected sources like Instagram, reality television, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, stand-up comedy, and TikTok, educators can introduce lived perspectives into their classrooms that better prepare students to have actual encounters with Asian peoples. This workshop, therefore, presents strategies for incorporating these types of materials into the classroom, while also suggesting that perhaps we should be privileging the lived perspective over the textual one.

    Keynote Speaker:

    PeterHershockDr. Peter Hershock

    East-West Center

    Dr. Peter Hershock is Director of the Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) and Education Specialist at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Trained in Asian and comparative philosophy, his research and writing draw on Buddhist conceptual resources to reflect on and address contemporary issues of global concern.


    Keynote Presentation:

    "Consciousness Mattering: Buddhist Nondualism as a 'Unified Field' Theory of Matter and What Matters"

    It is hard to imagine anything mattering more than consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing could or ever would matter. Yet, what is consciousness, exactly, and what is its relationship to matter? Does consciousness have an evolutionary purpose? This talk blends Buddhist thought with insights from contemporary neuroscience, physics, and philosophy to theorize consciousness relationally as the coherent differentiation of sensed and sensing presences, and more fundamentally as the order-generating differentiation of matter and what matters. According to this nondualist theorizing, our brains and bodies are not causes of human consciousness, they are parts of its material infrastructure, and both biological and cosmic evolution are creative manifestations of consciousness mattering. The talk will end with reflections on artificial consciousness, mass experimentation on human consciousness through the digitally mediated attention economy and machine learning, and the necessarily ethical nature of theorizing consciousness.


    Contact us for more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Who We Are

    Housed within the Asian Studies Program at the University of Central Arkansas, the Arkansas NCTA aims to empower elementary and secondary school teachers to center East Asian art, literature, history, and culture in their classrooms.

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