Entrance to a Buddhist temple
May 31, 2022

Making Meaningful Work

Workshop students contribute to Harvard University's Pluralism Project
by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

In late March, Andy Housiaux, Tang Institute director and Workshop instructor, and Chenxing Han, mentor and close collaborator, took students in the Workshop’s "Listening to Buddhists in Our Backyard" project to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

By this time in the term, the students in the Buddhism project group had visited Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Cambodian, and Nichiren temples throughout the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts. They’d written blog posts about some of these visits for the Institute website and felt strongly about producing meaningful work.

In Cambridge, the students not only shared thoughts and observations with a group of Harvard Divinity School students but also spent time with Professor Diana Eck, the founder and director of Harvard University’s Pluralism Project. As described on their site, “the Pluralism Project is an ongoing research project that studies and interprets religious diversity and interfaith relations across the United States, with the help of students, in collaboration with others in the field, and in partnership with religious communities and interfaith organizations.”

After their conversation with Eck, the Buddhism students wrote and published two Buddhist center profiles with the Pluralism Project. This is a powerful accomplishment, as most of the profiles are created by graduate students.

Of this work, Chenxing Han says, "When I cited the Pluralism Project's research in my book, Be the Refuge, I never imagined that high school students could be generators of research for this esteemed project, much less that I would have an opportunity to work with such high schoolers. Which is a long way of saying: my imagination was woefully limited. Who is teaching whom? What do we believe our students—and ourselves—capable of? 'Listening to the Buddhists in Our Backyard' has transformed my thinking about what's possible in education.

We invite you to read the profiles:

The "Listening to Buddhists in Our Backyard" group includes Olivia ’22, Taylor ’22, Haruka ’22, Loulou ’22, Lesley ’22, and Melissa ’22.



Each spring term, the Workshop welcomes 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, the Workshop is the senior’s onlyacademic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within a chosen theme, students explore areas of personal interest. This year's theme is Experiments in Education.

During the first few weeks of the term, students are working on one of four faculty-led projects. We will be featuring blog posts by students during this time.

  • Historiography (led by Chris Jones)
  • Listening to Buddhists in Our Backyard (led by Andy Housiaux)
  • Andover’s CAMD Scholars Program: Advancing DEIJ Teaching, Learning, and Community Outcomes (led by Corrie Martin)
  • Bias (led by Nicholas Zufelt)


The Tang Institute at Phillips Academy is a center for the advancement of teaching, learning, and partnership. To learn more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Notes on Learning.

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