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Nathan Michon has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award to conduct research at Tohoku University in Japan as part of a dissertation project examining chaplaincy in contemporary Japanese Buddhism. A PhD student in the department of Cultural and Historical Studies in Religions with a concentration in Buddhist Studies, Michon is studying how Japanese clergy are combining approaches often employed in Western chaplaincy with traditional Japanese Buddhist meditations and other techniques to create innovative forms of caregiving.
Chaplaincy is among the most dynamic aspects of contemporary Japanese Buddhism, says Dr. Richard Payne, professor of Japanese Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies and Michon’s dissertation advisor. “Prior to the Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, only a few scholar priests had explored the areas of pastoral counseling, hospice care, and chaplaincy during their own studies outside of Japan,” Payne notes. “Since that time, however, chaplaincy has developed rapidly as a way for Buddhist priests to serve their congregations in ways that are responsive to a modern, urban lifestyle.”
Payne believes Michon’s receipt of the Fulbright Award speaks to the significance of his work. "We are very proud of Nathan’s accomplishment as it reflects the importance of his dissertation research project," he said. “Chaplaincy is a rapidly developing area of study in Japanese Buddhist universities, and Nathan hopes to bridge the best practices developing there and the established expertise found in the United States.”
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and now operates in more than 160 participating countries worldwide. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, professionals, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.