Lara: Congratulations on your recent PhD defense and position as Baker Post-Doctoral Fellow of Contemporary Asian Religion in the School of Religion at Queen’s! Can you tell us about your doctoral work while in Cultural Studies?
Colin: My thesis focused on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice and its relevance to contemporary issues facing the more-than-human world. It developed and defended an interpretation of Buddhist ethics as a moral phenomenology and sought its practical implementation through the Tibetan contemplative framework of view, meditation, action. I conducted translations of primary Tibetan sources, did close readings of these sources, and supplemented this material with literature on Buddhist ethics and contemplative studies from western academia.
With this ethical theory and its practical addendum at hand, I then looked at how this particular approach to ethics could be directed towards contemporary issues facing the more-than-human world. I showed how the framework of view, meditation, action could be useful for perceptually orienting individuals towards a more positive engagement with the environment and nonhuman animals. Ultimately, the thesis presents an important way to think through environmental and animal ethics that takes us beyond Euro-American perspectives.
Lara: That sounds like extremely timely work. Can you share a little bit about what you’ll be working on for the duration of your post-doc?
Colin: I plan to continue to engage the Tibetan Buddhist philosophical tradition with contemporary justice issues and contribute to discussions involving Buddhist environmentalism, animal rights, and total liberation theory. To this end, I have several papers in press, am working on several more, and plan to turn my doctoral dissertation into a monograph. This work will also inform my teaching with the School of Religion for the next two years where I hope to inspire undergraduate students to think critically about the world they are presented with, and to draw from a diversity of global religious and philosophical traditions for addressing present and future problems.
Lara: What would you tell prospective students about your experience in Cultural Studies at Queen’s?
Colin: The Cultural Studies at program at Queen’s gave me the ability to engage in broad interdisciplinary work in a way that other programs simply could not. I had previous training in Buddhist studies, but the core courses of Cultural Studies gave me a strong foundation in critical theory that I was able to use to elevate my work. I also really appreciated the breadth of faculty expertise that students have access to in the Cultural Studies program. Being supervised by faculty in multiple departments allowed me to take my thought in directions I had previously not considered and to engage ideas I would have otherwise not been exposed to. This had a tremendous impact on my graduate work and will undoubtedly influence my future work as well.
Lara: Thanks so much for your time Colin!