Post-Grant Reports


Educating for Democracy in Bhutan: A Tocquevillean Study

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Buddhist Studies | Education | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Philosophy


This research contributed to an analysis of observed core values, practices, and perspectives of this traditionally hierarchical Buddhist culture, with its unique transition to democracy. This analysis advances a comparative work in socio-political philosophy, examining the impact of Bhutanese educational philosophy and practices on its nascent democracy and contrasting it with the nature and impact of the educational philosophies and practices on the socio-political contexts of the democracies of the U.S. and Finland.

This grant funded travel to Bhutan for the purpose of conducting field observations of the implementation of the “Bhutan Education Blueprint: 2014-2024,” Bhutan’s ambitious roadmap for the development of their national education program. With the gracious assistance of Mr. Chencho Wangdi (Deputy Chief Program Officer, ECCD Division, Department of School Education, Ministry of Education), visits were arranged with more than 8 schools in Thimpu, Punakha, Phobjikha, Bumthang, and Paro. The schools were rural and urban, public and private, larger and smaller, and ranged from kindergarten to college. Included were a Montessori school in Thimpu and a school for deaf students in Paro. In addition to the collection of valuable empirical observation, interviews were conducted with teachers and principals concerning the successes and challenges of implementing the Blueprint’s theoretical models to on-the-ground educational practices. A meeting with Dr. Samir Patel (Interim Dean - Development and External Relations, Associate Dean - Academic Affairs, and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies), at Royal Thimpu College, led to the development of a formal relationship between Linfield College and Royal Thimpu College (RTC). This relationship paved the way for Linfield faculty to conduct January term courses on the campus of RTC, utilizing the local reputation, resources, and connections of the college to offer academically rich travel courses. Professor Beam will be returning to Bhutan and RTC with a group of Linfield students in January 2018.


This research was conducted as part of a Linfield College Faculty Development Grant in 2016, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

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