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Professor Stephan Feuchtwang
s.feuchtwang@lse.ac.uk
Dr Fang-Long Shih
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John McNeil Scott
j.scott@lse.ac.uk

Religion and Sustainable Economy: the Buddhist economics of Tzu Chi's environmental humanities

With Dr Yu-Mei Tsai (Tzu Chi College of Technology) and Dr Frank Lie (CEO, Tzu Chi UK)

Series: London Taiwan Seminar|, special series of Forums with Tzu Chi|

Date: Tuesday 10 July 2012 6pm-8pm

Venue: Room CON.1.03, Connaught House, London School of Economics (LSE)

Chair: Dr Fang-Long Shih (LSE Taiwan Research Programme)

Discussants: Reverend John McNeil Scott (LSE Taiwan Research Programme); Mr Stuart Thompson (LSE Taiwan Research Programme)

Outline

The current economic crisis has stimulated debate and reflection on society. Groups and individuals are exploring new values, identities and communities marked by reconfigured attitudes to wealth and money, and promoting alternative conceptions of well-being, happiness and justice. Religious organisations are prominent among the civil society groups offering critiques and alternatives, and suggesting new models of social entrepreneurialism with sustainability in mind.

This forum will focus as a case study on a project initiated by the prominent Taiwanese Buddhist charity Tzu Chi, which is one of the very few Buddhist and Chinese-speaking NGOs. The group has more than five million members worldwide, and it is particularly active in disaster relief in Taiwan, China, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

In 2008 the Tzu Chi International Humanitarian Aid Association (TIHHA) established the DAAI Technology Company. The company has a corporate ideology of giving "100% feedback" to society; it sells recycled textile products, and all profits are given over to charity as an act of Buddhist compassion. However, DAAI Technology's products represent more than simply the provision of basic necessities and humanitarian merchandise; DAAI's business practices also promote Tzu Chi's Environmental Humanities with the global community, and embody the moral economics of Dharma Master Cheng Yen as they relate to her philosophy of life, time, space, and human relations. TIHHA seeks to express through its philosophy of life an enlightened sense of peace, simplicity and spirituality, and to develop alternative communities based on Buddhist economics.

About the Speakers

Dr Yu-Mei Tsai is a dedicated professional in the field of education. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas, Austin. She is an assistant professor at Tzu Chi College of Technology, and served as Director of the General Education Center from 1999 to 2011. Dr Tsai is particularly interested in action research on the humanities and moral character education, and she has spearheaded research in these areas. Since 2002, she has coordinated several projects funded by Taiwan's Ministry of Education in the areas of EFL teaching, humanities education, and cross-cultural exchange.

Dr Frank Lie MD is a consultant cardiologist, working for the NHS at Barts Health Trust in east London. His work includes dealing with emergency admissions, making diagnoses through both non-invasive and invasive procedures, catheterization, implanting pacemakers, and nuclear cardiology imaging. He also has a regular programme teaching third and fifth year medical students at the hospital. His major clinical research interest is in the area of anti-coagulation and anti-platelet treatment. His is also Director of the Tzu Chi Foundation UK (a registered charity), which allows him to develop humanitarian aid programmes in the areas of education, medicine, and society in the UK. He is a devoted Buddhist, and is a Tzu Chi Commissioner in the UK. He also campaigns for vegetarianism.

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