Research and Advice Bureau Religion and Society

The Bureau for Religion and Society addresses local and global issues on religion, politics and society through the provision of research and policy advice, and through the facilitation of dialogues between religious and secular authorities. The Bureau links academic expertise with long-standing experience in policy and program development to advice on contemporary social questions related to ‘religion and identity conflicts’, ‘religion and international relations’, ‘religions, gender and sexuality’ and other themes. It aims to close the gap of knowledge and familiarity with religions that currently hinders European policy makers and administrators to respond in an effective and sustainable manner to the resurgence of religion in the public domain.

Main activities
The Bureau:

~ provides policy and program advice to local and national government agencies, civil society organizations and international policy makers on particular questions related to religion and society as emerging in their area of work;

~ disseminates expert knowledge to policy makers, diplomats and humanitarian practitioners through the provision of focused research on themes (see below) related to religion and society, or on the beliefs, practices and aspirations of particular religious or secular ideological movements;

~ facilitates dialogue and joint action research between religious and non-religious authorities who seek to address pressing issues on religions, politics and society in their domain of work.

Themes of expertise:

~ Religion, secularism and identity conflicts

~ Religion, sustainable development and humanitarian response

~ Religion, violence and peace

~ Religion, gender and sexuality

~ Religious and moral leadership

~ Inter-religious communication

In secular Europe, religion has once again become a factor of influence in the organization and governance of public life and international relations. Policy makers, diplomats, mayors of large cities and metro poles, school teachers and journalists are all groping for answers to deal with the global resurgence of public religion. However, because of the rapid secularization in Western Europe, the current generation of policy advisers and civil administrators lacks religious literacy. As a consequence, there exists a huge gap in knowledge, expertise and familiarity with religions and worldviews in the European public domain. The Bureau for Religions and Society aims to bridge this gap through the provision of focused research and policy advice to public institutions and civil society organizations. Besides, it aims to enhance active engagement and cooperation between secular and religious authorities through dialogue, joint action research and public debates.