The Long-Haul

Buddhist Educational Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Resilience for Lifelong Personal Transformation and Positive Community Change


  • Namdrol Miranda Adams Maitripa College
  • Kevin Kecskes Portland State University



service-learning, Buddhist, faith-based, spiritual, formation, community engagement, urban


For decades, community engagement scholars have built a robust body of knowledge that explores multiple facets of the higher education community engagement domain. More recently, scholars and practitioners from mainly Christian affiliated faith-based institutions have begun to investigate the complex inner world of community-engaged students’ meaning-making and spiritual development. While most of this fascinating cross-domain effort has been primarily based on “Western” influenced Judeo-Christian traditions, this study explores service-learning/community engagement themes, approaches, rationale, and strategies from an “Eastern” perspective based on the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This case study research focuses on curricular approaches, influences, and impacts of Buddhist philosophy/spirituality on community engagement endeavors in the context of Maitripa College, an urban graduate higher education institution located in Portland, OR. Researchers corroborate key findings from previous faith-based institutional studies as well as extend the literature in two specific areas: 1) providing strategies for and discussing the role of spiritual formation and development in relation to community engagement; and 2) the Buddhist view of seeing obstacles as opportunities (Thubten Zopa Rinpoche & ʼjig-Med-Bstan-Paʼi-Ñi-Ma, Rdo Grub-Chen III, 2001) as a way to increase effectiveness and harmony in all aspects of life, including academic service-learning endeavors.

Author Biographies

Namdrol Miranda Adams, Maitripa College

Namdrol Miranda Adams is the Dean of Education and a founder of Maitripa College. Since 1998 she has dedicated her life to the study and practice of the Tibetan language and the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She has worked extensively with the texts of the tradition as an editor and translator of dozens of publications, has completed the major retreats on the sutra and tantra traditions of the lineage, and was ordained as a Buddhist nun for 7 years. She is currently completing her doctoral work in Educational Leadership at the University of Portland. Her work is focused on contemplative education, pedagogy, and building sustainable and socially responsible institutions of higher education.

Kevin Kecskes, Portland State University

Dr. Kecskes is Associate Professor of Public Administration in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. His primary teaching areas are global leadership and ethics in the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) program where he serves as the lead faculty advisor for the Global Leadership and Management specialization. He also regularly teaches on community engagement and leadership in the undergraduate civic leadership program, which he co-founded. Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Kecskes provided university-wide leadership in various positions at PSU including Associate Vice Provost for Engagement and Director for Community-University Partnerships. He helped establish and directed PSU's International Institute on Partnerships.


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