Name: Jeremiah Spence
Position: Associate Professor of Global Media
Faculty: Erasmus School of History Culture and Communication
“I am convinced that Buddhism is particularly suited to science. Thanks to Buddhism, I accept that part of our world is incomprehensible. As an academic, you tend to focus on aspects of the world that can be researched and understood. The Dalai Lama has stated that Buddhists also contemplate these understandable aspects. He said that many high-ranking Buddhist monks tackle major psychological or physical issues, just like scientists.
I grew up in Texas, in an evangelical family. My father came from a Catholic family, while my Dutch mother belonged to the Dutch Reformist Church. So thanks to my grandparents and parents, I was exposed to several religions as a child. However, I never really understood the way in which Christians view the world. The turning point came when Buddhist monks visited my Catholic boarding school. Their way of looking at people – without judging them for who they were and what they did – appealed to me a lot more.
I only started working at Erasmus University in August. I never had any problems at my previous universities; they are tolerant places. Moreover, I keep my religion to myself. If I discuss my religion with others at all, it is because they have visited me at home and seen the references to Buddhism.
Buddhism is very useful to my academic research. I specialise in media and communication, and my research involves a lot of elements of ethnography. Buddhism is all about really listening to others and deeply respecting individual stories.”