In April 2004, His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, visited the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) for meetings on ethical leadership and personal responsibility in the new millennium. He emphasized the importance of fostering leadership qualities among youth for an interconnected world. Moved by his message, members of the UC Irvine community took action and formed the XIV Dalai Lama Scholars, an endowed scholarship program in which selected students design and implement local projects in ethics, leadership, cross-cultural cooperation and peacebuilding.
The inaugural Scholars were selected in 20006, and over ensuing years, initiatives have ranged from launching a course focusing on compassion in medicine to a yearlong forum generating discussion around the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Lori Warmington and Anders Ferguson, who played a role in the formation of the XIV Dalai Lama Scholars, approached the directors of the Dalai Lama Center in Vancouver to explore expanding the UC Irvine initiative. The Dalai Lama Center commissioned a feasibility study to assess the viability of a global program.
When the Dalai Lama returned to the Dalai Lama Center in September 2009, he met privately with members of the feasibility study’s committee. After discussions, he authorized the creation of Dalai Lama Fellows with the explicit directives that the Fellowship be secular, global, and focused on service.
After discussions, he authorized the creation of Dalai Lama Fellows with the explicit directives that the Fellowship be secular, global, and focused on service.
With the personal authorization of the Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama Fellows launched in 2010 to develop leaders willing to confront some of our most daunting challenges while grounded in ethical awareness, inmtegrity, and universal human values.
Six North American colleges and universities – Amherst College, McGill University, New York University, Oberlin College, Princeton University and Stanford University – joined UC Irvine in naming inaugural Dalai Lama Fellows. In addition, four citizen sector organizations – BRAC USA, Conservation Through Public Health (Uganda), International Alert (England) and Search for Common Ground (Israel) – also named Fellows from their organizations.
The First Convening
In June 2011, the inaugural class of Dalai Lama Fellows gathered at the Mount Madonna Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California for the first convening of what is now called the Ethical Leadership Assembly, a week-long values clarification, skills-building and team-building event where we forge the Fellows community and prepare them for the journey ahead by focusing on deepening compassion, practicing global ethics, project management, and conflict resolution. At the conclusion of the Assembly, Fellows traveled to nine different countries to pursue their “compassion in action” projects.
In June 2011, the inaugural class of Dalai Lama Fellows gathered at… the Ethical Leadership Assembly, a week-long skills-building and team-building retreat where we forge the Fellows community and prepare them for the journey ahead by focusing on deepening compassion, practicing global ethics, project management, and resolving conflicts.
As Dalai Lama Fellows turns two, the organization has chosen to focus exclusively on Fellows from academic institutions in the near term, is working to deepen its curriculum, and is expanding its global reach, adding Ashesi University in Ghana, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, and the American University in Cairo as partners. The University of Minnesota and Spelman College have also joined to name Fellows this year.