Presenters, Keynotes and Discussants

Yeshes Vodgsal Atshogs
Professor, Linguistics, Nankai University, Tianjin
Professor Atshogs is a prominent Tibetan linguist who has won national awards for his ground-breaking research on the comparative study of Sino-Tibetan languages.  
He is currently a faculty member in the Department of Linguistics at Nankai University where he obtained his doctorate in 2003.  His research interests include the philosophy of linguistics, language contacts, language acquisition and endangered languages. He has published extensively and has held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Endangered Language Documentation Programme at SOAS University of London in 2004.  He is also a respected faculty mentor to Tibetan undergraduate students and a promoter of intercultural dialogue.

Lara Braitstein
Assistant Professor, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, McGill University
Lara Braitstein is an assistant professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University. She teaches courses on Classical Literary Tibetan, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. Her principal areas of research include esoteric traditions of Tibetan and Indian Buddhism, Classical Tibetan literature, and Buddhist Sanskrit literature.  Her work has appeared in the Indian International Journal of Buddhist StudiesStudies in Religion, and Consciousness, Literature and the Arts


Julie Brittain 
Associate Professor, Linguistics, Memorial University
Julie Brittain is a linguist whose work focuses on Algonquian languages (Canadian indigenous). For the past 20 years, she has collaborated with speakers of Cree in Québec and Labrador to produce work which is both theoretical (syntax/morphology) and of practical value to the speech communities (grammars, dictionaries, teaching resources). Since 2004, she has been the director of the Chisasibi (Cree) Child Language Acquisition Study (CCLAS), the largest longitudinal L1 acquisition study to date for any indigenous language of the Americas. She is also interested in the causes and effects of language loss, and in community-centered strategies to reverse language decline. From 1987-88, she taught English language and L2 teaching methodology at Tibet University, Lhasa, and has since maintained an interest in issues having to do with language vitality and language policy regarding Tibetan in Tibet, especially pertaining to education.

Susan Chen
Luce Teaching Fellow, Gettysburg College
Susan Chen received her interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Emory University. Her dissertation explores the human geography of Dharamsala shaped and reshaped by the local and translocal experiences of Tibetans. Aside from her academic background in Cultural Anthropology, History, and East and South Asian Studies, she is also a teacher of Chinese as a second language and a translator interested in Sinophonic Tibetan literature.

Marc Desjardins 
Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Concordia University
Marc Desjardins is an assistant professor at the Department of Religion at Concordia University. He obtained his Ph.D. from McGill University and has conducted fieldwork in the eastern region of the Tibetan plateau.  His research interests include Pan-Asian Buddhism, Tibetan religions (with a special focus on Bön institutions), Chinese popular cults and religions, Buddhist rituals with an emphasis on both Tibetan and Chinese traditions. 

Tsewang Dorje
Associate Professor, Qinghai Normal University, Qinghai Province
Tsewang Dorje obtained his Ph.D. in Education from Thailand. Working in Tibetan, Chinese and English, his main research interest is in multicultural and multilingual education in Tibetan schools. His recent research projects include case studies of effective multilingual teaching in centralized Tibetan boarding schools in Tibetan autonomous prefectures in the Amdo region of Tibet.

James R. Doty
Founder, Project Compassion and Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University
Dr. Doty is a clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University. He completed his undergraduate training at the University of CA, Irvine and medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. In addition to being a neurosurgeon, he is also an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist.  Additionally, he has endowed chairs at major universities including Stanford University School of Medicine and his alma mater, Tulane University School of Medicine.  As founder of Project Compassion, Dr. Doty works with both the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience and a variety of scientists from a number of disciplines examining the neural bases for compassion and altruism.  He is on the Board of Directors of a number of non-profit foundations including the University of Southern California Brain and Creativity Institute, the Dalai Lama Foundation and the Friends of New Orleans (FONO).


Andrew Fischer 
Senior Lecturer, International Institute for Development Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam
Andrew Fischer's Ph.D. research (Development Studies, London School of Economics) examined Chinese development strategies in the ethnic minority provinces of Western China from the early 1990s onwards, focusing on Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Tibet Autonomous Region.  Recent publications include State Growth and Social Exclusion in Tibet: Challenges of Recent Economic Growth and "Population Invasion versus Urban Exclusion in the Tibetan Areas of Western China: clarifying the population debates," Population and Development Review .  His research interests include issues of poverty, inequality, social exclusion, discrimination, and social conflict, and how these are affected by various patterns of economic growth, modes of social policy and aid.

Alain-G Gagnon 
Professor, Political Science, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM)

Alain-G. Gagnon is Canada research chair in Quebec and Canadian studies and professor of Political Science, Université du Québec à Montréal. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University (1978), and received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Carleton University in 1983. He is a founding member of the Research Group on Multinational Societies (1995-) and is director of an emerging research centre on diversity (CRIDAQ : Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la diversité au Québec) that brings together thirty researchers. Gagnon has also served as Director of the Quebec Studies Program at McGill University from 1992 to 2003.

Alexander Gardner
Associate Director, Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation

Alexander Gardner is the associate director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. He completed his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan in 2007 under Donald Lopez. He is Director of the Treasury of Lives, an online biographical encyclopedia of Tibetan and Inner Asian Religion.

David Germano
Professor, University of Virginia

Besides his teaching and research work in Department of Religious Studies, Germano is co-director of the Tibet Center ( and director of SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives – at the University of Virginia. His research interests are focused on the Nyingma and Bön lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, tantric traditions overall, Buddhist philosophy, and Tibetan historical literature. He also does research on the contemporary state of Tibetan religion in relationship to China, non-monastic yogic communities in cultural Tibet, and has initiated various community participatory projects in Tibet.


Trowo Gyaltsen
Researcher, Aba Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Teacher Training Institute, Sichuan Province
Trowo Gyaltsen is a prominent policy advocate of Tibetan language rights in education in Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. Now based in Barkham, he has been a well-known researcher, educator and administrator throughout Aba for over three decades. A Tibetan voice promoting Tibetan language education, Trowo Gyaltsen has published widely and lectured extensively on appropriate models of bilingual education in Tibetan schools.  Through his extensive Chinese- and Tibetan-language publications, Trowo Gyaltsen has become a leading advocate for legal protection and the implementation of the laws on regional autonomy in the field of education.


Kesang Gyamtso
Professor, Qinghai Normal University, Qinghai Province
Professor Gyamtso is a distinguished senior faculty at Qinghai Normal University.  He holds a master's degree from Columbia University and Ph.D. from the University of Helsinki in Finland. His special research interests include the role of market in advancing bilingual education in the Tibetan region. He has been a long time advocate of the appropriate bilingual teaching models for Tibetan schools to improve the delivery of quality education in Tibetan schools as well as the market participation of the Tibetan population.

Stevan Harrell 
Professor, Anthropology, University of Washington
Stevan Harrell is a distinguished anthropologist of China and Taiwan who has taught at the University of Washington since 1974.  His pioneering fieldwork in minority areas, particularly with the Nuosu or Liangshan Yi, led to several edited volumes, as well as to a regional ethnography, Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China. His interest in ethnic identity led to interest in ethnic arts, and from 1999-2007, he was Curator of Asian Ethnology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.  Working in Liangshan, he became interested in environmental sustainability and community development through education. He helped found the Yangjuan Primary School in 2000 and at the same time, he became active in educational exchange programs.  Professor Harrell now heads the University of Washington's Worldwide Program, a project that exchanges undergraduates with Sichuan University and involves many of them in ecological fieldwork and community service at the Yangjuan School. In 2005, with a group of students, he founded the Cool Mountain Education Fund, a small NGO that gives scholarships to graduates of the Yangjuan School.

Thupten Jinpa 
Adjunct Professor, Department of Religious Studies, McGill University
Thupten Jinpa is a scholar of Tibetan thought, religion, language and philosophy.  He has been a principal English translator to the Dalai Lama since 1985. Affiliated both with McGill and Stanford University's Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences, Thupten Jinpa is recognized as a leading thinker and commentator on Tibetan cultural, linguistic and contemporary social issues.  His works include Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy and Mind Training: The Great Collection, as well as numerous works in Tibetan, including Key Opening the Gateway of Speech: A Modern Grammar of Tibetan Language (brda sprod gsar bsgrigs smra sgo'i lde mig).  A specialist of Buddhist epistemology, dialectics and psychology, Thupten Jinpa is founder and president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics and the Chairman of the Mind and Life Institute, dedicated to fostering creative dialogue between the Buddhist tradition and modern science.  Thupten Jinpa received his Geshe Lharam degree from Ganden Monastic University.  He also holds a BA in Philosophy and Ph.D. in Religious studies, both from Cambridge where he also worked as a research fellow in Eastern Religions.

Manla Kyi
Associate Director, Tibet Sustainable Governance Program, University of Virginia
Manla Kyi is a leading international researcher of education and language policy in Tibet.  Formerly a faculty member of the Qinghai Nationalities University in Xining, Manla has been committed to the improvement of education quality in Tibetan areas both through her academic research and her educational initiatives in the non-profit sector.  She earned a master's degree in education (M.Ed.) from Columbia before undertaking her Ph.D. research on Tibetan language policy change at the University of Hong Kong.  She is currently the co-chair of the TGAP Forum on Language Policy and Practice in Tibet.  

Padma Lhundrup
Director of Research, Qinghai Nationalities and Religious Affairs Committee
Padma Lhundup is a leading research scholar of policy issues in Qinghai province. He currently directs the research division of the provincial level Qinghai Nationalities and Religious Affairs Committee. Trained socio-linguistics, Padma Lhundrup's current research interests include language loss, language contact, bilingual education, and environmental conservation. He has received several awards from both the state and provincial government for his research based policy reports.


Ting-shen Lin
Professor, Political Science and Law, University Quebec at Montreal
Ting-shen Lin is a professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM).  He obtained his Ph.D. from L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales while receiving “Très Honorable avec Félicitations”, the highest academic distinction for doctorates in French academic universities, for his thesis on The Scheme of Work in China: Investigations of Taiwanese factories in coastal China.  His research areas are in political economy of development, the labour regime in China and socio-economic policies of development in China.  Recent publications include Development of Investment Agencies in China and In a Chinese factory.  Dr. Lin has also conducted field research in Beijing, China and Taipei and Hsinchu, Taiwan on the Taiwanese entrepreneurs’ politico-economic relations in China.


Egil Lothe
Oslo Coalition for the Freedom of Religion or Belief
Egil Lothe is the director of the China Project of the Oslo Coalition for the Freedom of Religion or Belief, and has long been engaged in inter-religious dialogue and promotion of freedom of religion internationally.  From 2006 to 2010 he was party to the official Sino-Norwegian Dialogue on Human Rights.  Since 1987 Egil Lothe has been president of the Buddhist Federation of Norway, a government recognized faith community of 13 Buddhist associations with about 13,000 members.  In that capacity, he has been the leader of the Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway (1999-2003).  He has been a member of the executive committee of the International Council of the Day of Vesak in Thailand since 2008. In 2011 he was elected vice-president of the European Buddhist Union.  Egil Lothe was born in 1954 in Norway.  He has studied Buddhism in Asia as well as in Europe.  He received his MA in Religious studies, including studies of Pali and Sanskrit, from the University of Oslo in 1987 with a thesis on “Concept of Mission in Theravada Buddhism."  He has authored a number of books and articles on Buddhism and related topics.  


Charlene E. Makley 
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Reed College
Charlene Makley is an anthropologist of contemporary Tibet.  Her early fieldwork was focused on gender politics in the Labrang area.  Her research experience and interests include development, globalization, anthropology of capitalism, exchange and value, gender, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and ritual, feminist theory, linguistic anthropology of China, Tibet and East Asia. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1999 and has been a faculty at Reed College since 2000.

Tsewang Namgyal 
Board of Directors, Tibet Fund
Tsewang Namgyal works as a vice president in the investment banking division of a large financial institution. He did his undergraduate studies at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and later received an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. Tsewang has worked in different financial institutions primarily focusing on the energy and natural resource sector. Besides his regular work, he has traveled extensively around the world and throughout the Tibetan plateau. Tsewang Namgyal was born in India and studied at the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala before immigrating to the United States in 1992.


Nawang Phuntsog 
Associate Professor of Education, California State University
Dr. Nawang B. Phuntsog is an associate professor of education in the Department of Elementary, Bilingual, and Reading Education at California State University at Fullerton, and received his doctorate of education in 1993 from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His areas of specialization include multicultural education, curriculum development, and teacher education. He edited “Schooling & Tibetan Culture in Transnational Context” a monograph, published by the University of California, Irvine, in 2010.Recently, he was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar Award to India for the year 2011-2012 to examine the challenges associated with an abrupt shift in the medium of instruction from native Tibetan (Heritage language) to English language for 6th grade Tibetan Children.


Losang Rabgey
Cofounder and Executive Director, Machik 
Losang Rabgey holds a Ph.D. in gender studies and anthropology from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies where she was a Canadian Commonwealth Scholar.  For her work in bridging cultural divides, Dr. Rabgey was recognized as an Emerging Explorer by the National Geographic in 2006, and was selected by the Asia Society as a Young Leader in 2007.  In addition to innovating programs such as Mother's Wish, Machik's women's scholarship program in Amdo, Losang also serves on the board of directors of the Tibetan Himalayan Library and was a founding member of Mechak, the first online gallery of contemporary Tibetan art.  Her interests include social entrepreneurship, women's leadership, rural education and community development in Tibet.  Through Machik, Losang has mentored Tibetan, Chinese and global youth from around the world on intercultural communication and civic dialogue.  

Tashi Rabgey
Cofounder, Machik and Founding Director, Tibet Sustainable Governance Program, University of Virginia 
Tashi Rabgey is a specialist in Sino-Tibetan affairs and the primary author of the monograph Sino-Tibetan Dialogue in the Post-Mao Era:  Lessons and Prospects.  Her Ph.D. research at Harvard University examined legal pluralism, the doctrine of sovereignty and the politics of Tibetan legal recognition in Taiwan.  From 2008-11, she held a faculty appointment at the University of Virginia as Lecturer in Contemporary Tibetan Studies where she taught in comparative politics (Ethnic Pluralism and Autonomy in China) and global development studies (Development and Social Change in Tibet).  She holds law degrees from Oxford and Cambridge where she was a Rhodes scholar and has conducted fieldwork in the Tibetan region for over a decade.  She is currently a visiting scholar at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and is a fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on US-China Relations.

Chris Seiple
President, Institute for Global Engagement
Dr. Seiple is the president of the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), a research, education, and diplomatic institution that builds sustainable religious freedom worldwide through local partnerships. He is a member of the Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of State's "Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society," and also serves as senior adviser to the Dialogue's working group on "Religion & Foreign Policy." He is founder of The Review of Faith and International Affairs and the co-editor of The Routledge Handbook on Religion & Security (Routledge, 2012).  A former Marine infantry officer and member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, he speaks regularly to government audiences regarding the relationship between religion and realpolitik.  Dr. Seiple is a graduate of Stanford, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Fletcher School for Law & Diplomacy.


Ronald Schwartz
Professor, Sociology, Memorial University
Ronald Schwartz is a sociologist with a specialization in Tibetan society, politics and religious culture.  Formerly Chair of the Department of Sociology at Memorial University, Dr. Schwartz has done fieldwork with Tibetans living in India and the Tibetan Autonomous Region.  He has written extensively on Tibetan society and culture and is the co-editor (with Robert Barnett) of Tibetan Modernities: Notes from the Field on Cultural and Social Change in Contemporary Tibet.  

Dowa Kunsang Sherab (Li Qing) 
Former Commissioner, Qinghai Provincial Committee of Nationalities and Religious Affairs 

Li Qing was formerly the vice governor of Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture as well as the commissioner of Qinghai Provincial Committee of Nationalities and Religious Affairs, the key government organ in making and interpreting the provincial government policy for nationalities. Since his retirement, he has joined the board of directors of Tibetan Research Association (TRA) and remained active in making policy recommendations to governmental bodies.  He is also involved in non-governmental educational activities such as allocating scholarships to outstanding Tibetan students.  As the current director of the Tibetan Research Association, Li Qing leads research on revitalization of Tibetan language use in the eastern areas of Qinghai province, as well conservation and local histories. 

Jamyang Tashi 
Associate Director, Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Education Research Institute, Sichuan Province
Jamyang Tashi is a leading researcher and policy advocate of education issues in Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Based in Barkham, Jamyang Tashi was an respected educator and administrator in the Aba TAP school system before conducting policy research full-time. He currently leads the official research organ for the Aba prefectural government. With extensive experience in conducting school evaluation studies, Jamyang Tashi has held an official appointment as superintendent for classroom teaching practices by Aba TAP government for the past ten years.

Kesang G. Tashi
Social Entrepreneur in Tibet, CEO & Founder of Innerasia/Khawachen, and Crossroads Center
Kesang Tashi graduated from Dartmouth and earned a masters degree from The University of Wisconsin. He left a successful banking career in New York to focus on developing sustainable enterprise in the arts and crafts of Tibet. Through InnerAsia , a global company he founded in 1986, Tashi was instrumental in revitalizing Tibet’s rug weaving heritage and introduced the highly acclaimed Gangchen Carpets of Tibet to international markets in the US, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 1995, Tashi was asked by Gyalthang and Prefecture leaders to assist the growing Tourism and Hospitality Industry in his homeland to develop stronger outreach to international markets.  Tashi helped establish Gyalthang Dzong Hotel and Gyalthang Travel Service to promote Deqin as an international destination. Tashi facilitated professional training of local staff and was a liaison for local leadership and The Nature Conservancy to create China’s first world class Nature Preserve  in this region.  Tashi established Crossroads Center, a non-profit organization based in Gyalthang, to foster cultural and educational exchange. Crossroads programs are designed to benefit international participants as well as the surrounding community. 


Anne F. Thurston
Senior Research Professor, China Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Anne F. Thurston is the Director of the Grassroots China Initiative and Senior Research Professor of China Studies at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. Since 2003, Dr. Thurston and the Grassroots China Initiative have been working with Tibetan NGOs in Qinghai province. Dr. Thurston has authored a number of books on modern China, including Enemies of the People: The Ordeal of China’s Intellectuals during the Great Cultural Revolution and (with Li Zhisui) The Private Life of Chairman Mao, and has published extensively in academic and popular journals and newspapers.  She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  She is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.    

Dechen Tsering
Community Resources Director, Community Health for Asian Americans
Dechen Tsering is the Community Resources Director at Community Health for Asian Americans (CHAA), a nonprofit in Oakland, CA that promotes behavioral health and wellness of undeserved communities. She has over 15 years of experiences in international development, program management, grantmaking, women's rights advocacy and community health education. Dechen has B.A. in Environmental Studies from Antioch College in Ohio and master's in Public Health from Tulane University in New Orleans. Raised in Nepal, India and the United States, Dechen has traveled extensively on job assignments particularly in Asia and the Pacific Islands, including three trips to the Tibetan Plateau. Dechen lives in Berkeley with her partner and their 11-year old son. 


Eduardo J. Ruiz Vieytez 
Senior Lecturer of Constitutional Law, University of Deusto (Bilbao), Basque Country
Dr. Eduardo J. Ruiz Vieytez is senior lecturer of Constitutional Law at the University of Deusto (Bilbao) and director of the Human Rights Institute at the same university. He has published several books and articles on immigration law, national conflicts, minority rights and related issues. He has been legal adviser of the Basque Ombudsman. Nowadays, he occasionally acts as an independent expert of the Council of Europe in relation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. He has also been an active member of a Basque NGO working in the promotion of human rights of immigrants in Spain.


Tseten Wangchuk 
Fellow, Tibet Center, University of Virginia
Tseten Wangchuk is a specialist and leading public commentator on contemporary Tibetan affairs.  Originally from Lhasa, Tseten Wangchuk was formerly a research scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. His research interests include Tibetan elite and institutional politics, social change and the impact of economic reforms. He is a frequent commentator on Sino-Tibetan politics in the Tibetan, Chinese and English-language media and is currently affiliated as a research fellow with the Tibet Center of the University of Virginia.


Minglang Zhou 
Associate Professor, University of Maryland
Minglang Zhou earned his Ph.D. in linguistics from Michigan State University in 1993. His teaching and research interest includes the sociology of language, language and ethnicity, bilingual education, and teaching Chinese as a second language. He authored “Multilingualism in China: The politics of writing reform for minority languages 1949–2002” (Mouton de Gruyter, 2003) and edited four volumes on language policy, bilingual education, and language contact in China. He has also published two dozens of research articles and book chapters on these topics. He recently won a 2009 American Philosophical Society fellowship for his book project “Models of nation-state building and language education for ethnic minorities in China, 1949-2009.


Guobin Zhu 
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, City University of Hong Kong
Guobin Zhu is a legal scholar specializing in regional autonomy issues in the People's Republic of China. He holds a BA and MA from Renmin University in Beijing and a Master of Laws (LLM) from Hong Kong University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Aix-Marseilles III in France).  He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University and his current research interests include constitutional and administrative law in the PRC, the Basic Law of Hong Kong, comparative constitutional law, Chinese and comparative legal system, law of human rights in China, public administration of the PRC.