Scholars of Religious Studies Establish “European Academy of Religion”
Some 1,000 researchers expected at first international conference in Bologna beginning on Sunday – University of Münster’s Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” involved in foundation of academy – Presentation of research findings on increasing religious pluralism
Some 1,000 scholars of religious studies from Europe and the neighbouring countries will get together in Bologna, Italy on Sunday for the first conference of the newly-founded European Academy of Religion (EuARe). The University of Münster’s Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”, which was involved in the foundation of the new academy, will present research findings on the increase in religious pluralism in Europe at the international and interdisciplinary conference which will be held from 18 to 22 June. “With the European Academy of Religion, an unprecedented platform of European religious research comes into being”, says Protestant theologian, Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Großhans from the Cluster of Excellence, who prepared the conference with a group of international scholars. The event will see the adoption of the academy’s articles of incorporation.
“European research on religion is characterised by a variety of subjects, languages and academic traditions. We aim to bring these together”, says Prof. Großhans. “At the same time, thanks to the academy, research findings can be shown even more clearly in politics and society – given the pressing issue of the future.” The European Parliament and the European Commission Representation in Italy have assumed patronage of the conference. It is modelled on the renowned American Academy of Religion (AAR), which brings together scholars of religion from all over the world in North America.
“Ex Nihilo Zero Conference”
Scholars from about 300 research institutions are expected in Bologna. The aim is to network individual researchers but also university and non-university research centres, academic expert associations, journals, publishers and the media. The “Ex Nihilo Zero Conference”, as it is titled, also serves to organise the academy’s first regular annual conference in March 2018. In addition to annual conferences, to be held at alternating locations, the scholars aim to plan joint international research projects and establish a publicly available publication portal on the Internet.
The Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” will host a panel on the increasing religious pluralism in Western Europe at the conference in Bologna, taking place on Monday, 19 June. Speakers will be sociologist of religion Prof. Dr. Detlef Pollack, legal scholar Prof. Dr. Fabian Wittreck, and Islamic theologian Prof. Dr. Mouhanad Khorchide. In one of the key lectures of the conference, scholar of religious studies and theologian Prof. Dr. Perry Schmidt-Leukel from the Cluster of Excellence will present his new theory on religious pluralism according to which different religions resemble each other in view of their internal diversity, allowing for new ways of convergence. Prof. Dr. Großhans organises a lecture series on concepts and methods of modern religious philosophy for the European Society for Philosophy of Religion.
The foundation of the new academy dates back to the initiative of church historian Prof. Dr. Alberto Melloni, who holds the UNESCO Chair of Religious Pluralism and Peace at the University of Bologna. He also serves there as the director of the Foundation for Religious Sciences John XXIII. Some 500 delegates from Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Maghreb, Russia, America and Asia came upon invitation of the foundation for a first meeting in Bologna in December 2016. The preparatory conference was chaired by the EU Commissioner of Research, Carlos Moedas. (dak/vvm)