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Meet Our Students

IBS students are diverse, thoughtful, passionate and engaged. Here are a few of their voices

Profile of a Student

Last year, Master of Divinity candidate Rev. Melissa Opel was named Resident Minister of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco. To celebrate her achievements, Communications Director Rev. Gesshin Greenwood interviewed her about her appointment and her time at IBS.

Read the interview here. 


Meet a Core Faculty Member

Dr. Paula Arai

Dr. Arai's work is grounded in ethnographic research while applying a broader historical and cultural comparative lens to her interpretations. She engages in immersive poetic storytelling as a medium for conveying the experiential dimension of Buddhist practices and teachings. As a specialist in Japanese Sōtō Zen women, Arai trained at the Aichi Senmon Nisōdō nunnery under the tutelage of Aoyama Shundō Rōshi and has maintained decades-long relationships with the Japanese laywomen who figure in her studies. She curated exhibits of a Japanese scientist’s Heart Sutra paintings at museums, universities, and conferences over the past eight years. Active as a public speaker, Arai also leads workshops on healing rituals and presents in a range of Buddhist settings.

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Meet the Dean of Students

Dr. Scott Mitchell

Dean Mitchell has been a faculty member of the Institute since 2008, and a member of the IBS and GTU community since he began his graduate work in 2000. His research interests include Buddhism in Western contexts, Buddhist modernity, Pure Land Buddhism, translocal religions, ritual studies, and media studies. He is the author of The Making of American Buddhism.

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Hear from our Alumni

Our alumni are chaplains, ministers, academics, professors, writers and more! Here they are in their own voices. 

Chenxing Han, M.A

Author, Be the Refuge and one long listening

Rev. Blayne Higa, M.Div

Resident minister, Kona Hongwanji Buddhist Temple

Brent Beavers, M.A

Board certified chaplain

Alumni Panel

"Spiritual Care for Our Times," a discussion of the state of contemporary chaplaincy featuring IBS alumni Chenxing Han, Rev. Trent Thornley, and Blayne Higa. 

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