International Seminar of Young Tibetologists

Who we are

About the ISYT


In 1977, Martin Brauen and Per Kvaerne convened the Seminar of Young Tibetologists in Zürich. They invited sixty scholars, thirty of whom attended the five-day conference. Based on their success, another conference was planned, to take place in Oxford.

That conference, convened by Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi, marked the formal beginning of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS). Later, the Seminar of Young Tibetologists was retroactively awarded the status of being the first IATS seminar. The IATS seminars doubled at nearly every meeting, and, alongside the Csoma de Körős Symposium, became the premier conference in the field of Tibetan studies. With success came exponential growth, and by the time of the fourth seminar in Narita, it was impractical for participants to attend every paper, a state of affairs that is still bemoaned today.

Rebirth of the ISYT in 2006

At the 11th meeting of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) in Germany in 2006, the idea was mooted of a separate, but related organisation with a specific focus on Tibetologists in the early stages of their careers. Perhaps the IATS had grown too large, making it difficult to attend all the presentations relevant to our research topics, or perhaps the beards had grown too luxuriant. Either way, a small group of renegades met and agreed to hold their own conference with a smaller number of panels, slightly longer presentations, and a more youthful approach.

One of our goals in reviving the Seminar of Young Tibetologists is therefore to return to the intimacy of our humble beginnings. Due to the growth of the field, it may not be possible to hold a conference without panels and time conflicts, but we still aim to provide an intimate setting for the sharing of ideas.

The first International Seminar of Young Tibetologists was convened in London at the School or Oriental and African Studies, 9–13 August 2007 by Tim Myatt and Brandon Dotson. Striking a balance between academic rigour and diligent attention to the pursuits and needs of youth (social gatherings), the conference was a great success.

Most importantly, ISYT adopted a set of statutes, elected a governing board, and a proposal to host the second ISYT conference in Paris was unanimously accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Within minutes of announcing the planned creation of the International Seminar of Young Tibetologists, the joke about the exact nature of a ‘young Tibetologist’ had already grown old. If you are put off by the title, that’s fine. So are we. But you may still have questions, such as…
We have no strict definition, only the following guidelines. You are young if:
  1. No more than 6 years have passed since your final degree or

  2. No more than 6 years have passed since your first academic appointment. If these guidelines exclude you, do not consider it a lost cause, but contact us.

We are trying to keep the conference’s remit as broad as possible, so if you are engaged in work on the Tibetan cultural area, broadly conceived, the answer is yes. Further, we welcome participants with expertise in Himalayan anthropology, also broadly defined.

Natalia Mikhaylova

Current President

Natasha Mikles



Kalsang Norbu Gurung (President)

Lewis Doney (Secretary-General)


Board of Advisors

since 2022

Joie Szu-Chiao Chen

Baatra Erdene-Ochir

Kati Fitzgerald

Geshe Tri Yungdrung

Jue Liang

Ian MacCormack

Nyima Woser Choekhortshang

Tenzin Lhadon

The Statutes of the ISYT

At the first business meeting of the ISYT a set of statutes was adopted in order to take the organisation forward. A president, secretary general and a board of advisors was also elected. At the second meeting of the ISYT, the president and secretary general proposed a set of amendments that were voted on and subsequently adopted according to a majority concensus. The first conference of the Seminar of Young Tibetologists was held in Zürich in 1977. The Seminar was reinaugurated in London in 2007 as the International Seminar of Young Tibetologists (hereinafter ISYT). 


The following statutes were passed during the business meeting held at London, 12th August, 2007 and revised at subsequent business meetings.

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