Archive | September, 2009

Meet the Professor: Prof. Eyal Aviv

23 Sep
Professor Eyal Aviv

Professor Eyal Aviv

My name is Eyal Aviv; I am the Honors professor for Religious Studies. My main academic interests are Buddhism and East Asian religions. These interests are beyond mere research areas – they are an integral part of my personal and intellectual journey.

I grew up in Israel and, as early as high school, I was fascinated by the different ways people interpret the world. The wish to experience different cultures first hand led me on a trip to Thailand and China, and after a year of hard work to save up enough money, I packed my bundle and traveled to Asia. I lived for three months in a Thai Buddhist monastery and studied for a semester in a university in China. This was an eye-opening experience for me. The places I visited and the amazing people I met left a long lasting impression on me. I lived on a beautiful Island, traveled on elephants in the jungles of Thailand, almost got bitten by a huge and much too colorful spider, and fell into a gushing river during rafting. Still, living in a Buddhist monastery was the highlight of my trip.

When I came back to Israel, I decided to major in East Asian religions. Upon graduating I lived in China for a year and traveled extensively, especially to Buddhist monasteries. During that time, I was fortunate to meet some of the greatest Buddhist teachers living in China today. Among them was an old teacher, now over 100, who is famous for writing Buddhist texts with his blood, and an old teacher who sat in meditation while in ER and about to die. I sat with the monks in frozen meditation halls in remote temples hidden deep in the mountain and felt that there is something valuable this tradition has to teach me. The stories they told me, and the turbulent history of Chinese Buddhism in the last century, inspired me eventually focus on the challenges and prospect religions are facing in the modern period.

Later, I was stubborn enough to gain admission into a Ph.D. Buddhist Studies program at Harvard, a period which greatly shaped my intellectual journey. I wrote my dissertation on a group of scholastic Buddhists who revived one of the most sophisticated schools of Buddhist thought, the Yogācāra school.  Currently, I study this school and write my book about the history of this scholastic movement in modern China. I also published two articles about the Yogācāra school in China. One in a Chinese journal and the other will come out later this year about the reception of an important Buddhist encyclopedia from the 4th century CE in modern China. The article will be published as a part of an edited book dedicated to this important Buddhist text.

Beyond my academic life, I live in Takoma Park with my wife, Pazit, our two kids Noam and Dana, and our cat Tully. In those rare moments that I have for myself, I like to practice Tai chi, be away from the city or enjoy a good movie. My office is in the religion department, room 101. I always appreciate a good conversation, especially while imbibing a good cup of tea, chatting about Buddhism, mountains and interesting journeys.

Free food and Emergency info at University Yard…

23 Sep

Snag some free food and a free “Emergency Starter Kit” (if you’re one of the first 500) today from 11am-3pm in University Yard at GW for an emergency preparedness expo.  Not a bad deal for any GW kiddos or any sneaky locals.

There’s going to be some fire extinguisher demos as well, which, frankly, sounds pretty awesome.  I’m guessing the “Emergency Starter Kit” is just a comically ill-thought-out name for an emergency first aid kit or something similar, but who knows?  It could turn out to be your own personal mayhem tool chest.


Note, this post also appears at

Meet the Professor: Professor Lynette Osborne

20 Sep
Lynette Osborne

Professor Lynette Osborne

Hey everyone!  Since we have this fantastic new blog, I thought I’d introduce myself.

Name and Creds.I’m Dr. Lynette Osborne and I’m starting my fourth year with the UHP at GWU.  I hold a Ph.D. in sociology and women’s studies from Purdue University, an, M.A. in sociology and criminal justice from Old Dominion University, and a B.A. in psychology and sociology from California State University, Chico.

How I came to Honors.  In 2006, I moved to DC for a post doc at the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) Center for the Advancement of Scholarship in Engineering Education (CASEE).  I found myself missing teaching, however, so I inquired about adjuncting at GW and was welcomed into the UHP community.  After teaching one class a semester during my post doc I was asked to join the faculty as a permanent part time professor in 2007.  In 2009, I was offered a full time Visiting Assistant Professor position that I will have until Dec 2010.

Teaching.  As an Honors professor at GW I have the distinct pleasure of teaching some of the brightest and most inquisitive students I’ve ever encountered.   It’s wonderful to be able to brag to my professor-friends at other universities how my students come to class regularly, do the readings, ask critical and thoughtful questions, work diligently on their projects, and produce incredibly high quality work.

I specialize in teaching courses on gender and in the UHP I lead such amazingly fun and interesting classes as Introduction to Sociology, Gender and Sexuality, Gender, Power, and Politics, Quantitative Reasoning: Sex by the Numbers, Status of Women in the US:  Application of Feminist Theory, Female Delinquency and Crime, and Senior Thesis. I am also developing a course on the Sociology of Love that will be offered in spring 2010.

Service. Service is an important part of being part of an academic program.  Beginning in fall 2009, I have also been asked to lead the Assessment effort in Honors (Assessment Czarina is my unofficial title thanks to Catherine!). In this capacity I will build on the work Dr. Shepherd and I began in spring 2009 by assessing student experiences in the program annually as well as working toward developing quality course assessment tools with professors.  I also engage in campus-level service as the ScholarshipAdvisor for the Alpha Phi fraternity.

Research.In addition to teaching, I hold two research appointments.  My research area is gender and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and to keep myself busy and challenged in the summers I engage in two main research efforts.  First, I am a Project Director at Goodman Research Group, Inc, where I conduct STEM education program evaluations.  Second, I am a Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research where I conductquantitative and qualitative data analysis and am currently writing an NSF grant proposal that, if funded, will allow us to start a project that provides community college academic advisors the tools needed to encourage women to enter STEM majors in terminal-degree programs at the 2-year college level.

While I do maintain positions in other places and enjoy that work, the position that is perfect for me is being a UHP professor.  I am able to share my passion for sociology with students who are interested, engaged, and enjoy being challenged.  It has been and continues to be a great joy to have students tell me that they have selected sociology as their major or minor as a result of the course(s) they have taken with me.  That is,without a doubt, the greatest compliment I receive from students.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about me, my classes, and/or my research, feel free to email me at

Facebook photo tagging

18 Sep

Thanks to Adam for pointing out to me that tagging wasn’t activated on the Facebook Fan Page.  Here I’d been asking you all to tag yourselves and friends, and it was actually impossible.  Problem is fixed now, so feel free check them out and tag away.

Even CEOs Have Liberal Arts Backgrounds

18 Sep

If you’re a Chipotle lover like me, you may have wondered how  Chipotle got its start. 

Believe it or not, Steve Ells, the CEO of Chipotle earned an undergraduate degree in Art History and has never had a formal education in business.

Like Catherine and I always say, a Bachelor’s degree in a specific field doesn’t prescribe a career path for you or limit your professional options.  You can do almost anything with a degree in the liberal arts, and Steve Ells is living proof of that!

Check out the interview at the Wall Street Journal Online: