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Religion, Conflict and Globalization

How are religion, conflict and peace related? How does globalization affect local religious traditions? How do religious and secular actors interact in local and global debates on migration and gender?

Looking around the world today, it is clear that religion plays a role in many of the major conflicts going on at various levels. Furthermore religion plays an important role in people's lives worldwide, and has become one of the major ways people connect with each other across the globe. However, the persistence and prominence of the role of religion in contemporary societies is still not sufficiently understood in academic research and in the work of policy-makers, NGO's and journalists.

This master's track addresses the pivotal place of religion in the dynamics of globalization and conflict that shape present-day societies. The programme is interdisciplinary, examining political, social, psychological and cultural dimensions. You will learn to:

  • investigate the consequences of globalization for religious practices and individual, ethnic and national identities
  • understand the relationship between religion, conflict and peace-building
  • analyse national and international conflicts, and learn how they are interwoven with religious interests and opinions

You can specialize in either conflict and peacebuilding,  migration or gender

How are religion, conflict and peace related? How does globalization affect local religious traditions? How do religious and secular actors interact in local and global debates on migration and gender?

Looking around the world today, it is clear that religion plays a role in many of the major conflicts going on at various levels. Furthermore religion plays an important role in people's lives worldwide, and has become one of the major ways people connect with each other across the globe. However, the persistence and prominence of the role of religion in contemporary societies is still not sufficiently understood in academic research and in the work of policy-makers, NGO's and journalists.

This master's track addresses the pivotal place of religion in the dynamics of globalization and conflict that shape present-day societies. The programme is interdisciplinary, examining political, social, psychological and cultural dimensions. You will learn to:

  • investigate the consequences of globalization for religious practices and individual, ethnic and national identities
  • understand the relationship between religion, conflict and peace-building
  • analyse national and international conflicts, and learn how they are interwoven with religious interests and opinions

You can specialize in either conflict and peacebuilding,  migration or gender

  • Opleidingsvideo

    What martyr videos tell us

    Pieter Nanninga tells about his research into martyr videos.

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    – Opleidingsvideo
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    Religion and Conflict: Siamese Twins?

    Marjo Buitelaar about the free online course Religion and Conflict

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    – Opleidingsvideo
  • Testimonial van Carolien Lindeman - NL

    Understanding contemporary religious conflicts and society

    As a future journalist I chose a specialization in Religion, Conflict and Globalization to enrich my knowledge about contemporary global conflicts. I also took a Master's in Journalism and wrote my thesis on the use of social media during the 2011 revolts in Egypt. However, it wasn't until I started my Master's programme in Religion, Conflict and Globalization that I gained a true understanding of the role and significance of social media in Egypt's revolts.

    The many different case studies that come to the fore during this programme are what I liked best. I got to study the specifics of the religious conflict in Israel. I learned to question and define the meaning of fundamentalism and studied different forms of fundamentalism. These ranged from Christian fundamentalism in the US, to Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, to terrorist attacks in Tokyo by a Japanese sect. Together, we discussed the role of religion in the public sphere and the effects of globalisation on the psyche, in a religious sense and otherwise.

    The multiple angles from which my committed teachers taught about religion, be it anthropological, philosophical or psychological, opened my eyes to the many ways religion can be understood. The freedom I was then given to explore these in my own essays, allowed me to combine Religious Studies with my previous Master's in Journalism and Bachelor's in American Studies. This multi-faceted Master's is definitely intended for those not only interested in theoretical insights into religion but also into real-world reflections on contemporary society and religious conflicts.

    I had placements at the Dutch newspaper Het Parool and the Dutch broadcasting news agency NOS. At the moment, I'm working as a freelance journalist and copywriter

    Sluiten
    – Carolien Lindeman - NL
  • Testimonial van Assistant Professor Kim Knibbe

    The role of religion in contemporary societies is still not sufficiently understood

    Many disciplines do not explicitly address the role of religion in conflict, in the ways present-day societies are shaped, and in the ways people themselves shape their lives in a globalised world. This is puzzling but understandable given the dominance of the narrative of secularisation: social scientists long expected that the world would become less religious, following the example of Europe.

    Although the recognition that this is not happening has begun to sink in, the persistence and prominence of the role of religion in contemporary societies is still not sufficiently understood either in academic research or in the work of policy-makers, NGO's and journalists. This is what we are trying to do in this MA programme.

    Within this programme, I am involved in the course unit Global Dynamics and Local Cosmologies. This course unit is intended to give a broad background to the confrontation between different - religious and cultural - ways of ordering, perceiving and acting in the world that have taken place throughout history. We look at the confrontations between explorers and local populations, at the experience of colonialism, the globalisation of capitalism and our current, thoroughly globalised society. What has changed as a result of these confrontations and what remains the same? The Fundamentalism and Religious Violence course unit has a focus on more contemporary issues: what is fundamentalism and what are its causes? What are the consequences of labelling a certain group 'fundamentalist'? Is there something specific to religion that is connected with violence?

    My own research in recent years has focused on a form of 'religious globalisation' radiating from Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the most religiously dynamic countries in the world, especially in the south where there are many Pentecostal churches that are very ambitious: they want to convert the whole world to Christianity. They use the most modern methods of evangelisation, media, and organisation. To many people, these kinds of churches form a gateway to a globalised, modern lifestyle. Several of these churches have established a presence in many different countries worldwide. The church I have been following has 'parishes' in most countries of the world, and is also present in the Netherlands.

    In the Netherlands and Europe in general, religion and modernity are often thought to be antithetical - religion should be a private affair. This is very different from the way these Pentecostal churches see things. How do these opposing ways of viewing religion in relation to modernity interact and perhaps conflict, for example when it comes to gender and sexuality? That is what interests me.

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    – Assistant Professor Kim Knibbe
  • Testimonial van Assistant Professor Joram Tarusarira

    Reconciliation is both a social and a political process

    The links between religion and conflict, peace and reconciliation in pre-modern and modern times are undisputed. However, recent religiously articulated violence and conflict both locally and globally has added another layer of complexity to the role of religion in the public sphere. Although religious motifs can be used to promote peace, religion can also be used to justify conflict and violence.

    The Religion, Conflict and Globalization track provides an opportunity for the interdisciplinary study of the role religion plays in socio-economic and political conflicts, as well as in promoting sustainable peace and reconciliation. You will study how religion around the world influences people’s lives and connects them. Our teaching philosophy allows you to study and to conduct high level research that has a practical impact in the public domain. 

    I am the Coordinator of this track and am responsible for the Thesis seminars and Methodology clinics. I teach the course unit ‘Religion, Violence and Conflict Transformation’. This course unit examines the discourse and practice of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. We will address topics such as the history and development of religiously articulated violence and religious peacebuilding, religion and reconciliation, transitional justice and religion, religion and conflict,  fundamentalism and religious violence,  women, religion and peacebuilding, and religion, ritual and peacebuilding.                          

    My own research is conducted where religion, conflict, politics, peace and reconciliation intersect. It’s very important for me to conduct research that has a practical influence in the public sphere. A specific example of the practical application of my studies and research into reconciliation and transitional justice is my work as a consultant for various civic organizations in Zimbabwe. I’ve given workshops on peace, recovery and reconciliation, following two decades of political conflict, and have developed policy documents on these themes. I consider transitional justice to be part of the reconciliation process because I believe that reconciliation is both a social and a political process. So if you talk about reconciliation, you need to include events from the past and administer both retributive and restorative justice. My teaching is research driven, so students benefit from my past, present and on-going work.

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    – Assistant Professor Joram Tarusarira
  • Testimonial van Jessica Clark - UK

    Encouraged to engage with current events

    After I graduated from the University of Stirling, Scotland with a BA in Religious Studies and Journalism Studies, I chose to study Religion, Conflict and Globalization as I have always been fascinated with how religion plays a role within societies and cultures. I have been lucky enough to visit and live in many different countries, including India, Cambodia and Turkey and therefore, have experienced first-hand how religious traditions differ from country to country.

    I wanted to explore this further by doing a master’s degree. I was also very aware about the negative attitudes held by many in my home country (the UK) towards religion, with the assumption that it causes conflict. I also felt this assumption relates to the fear people have about the migration ‘crisis’ Europe is experiencing, with this fear particularly aimed towards Islam. I felt the Religion, Conflict and Globalisation programme would satisfy my interests as it explores the role of religion within the context of globalisation, conflict and peace, and migration.

    I enjoy the fact this programme is interdisciplinary and that the classes are more like seminars as oppose to lectures. The weekly readings are thought-provoking and challenging and I gained a lot from the class discussions with my peers and lecturers. We are encouraged to engage with current events and apply academic theory to case studies which we have a personal interest in. This style of programme requires a lot of independent study and in turn, allowed me to gain confidence in my own research capabilities which prepared me for writing my thesis.

    My master thesis researches Faith Based Organisations (FBO) within the local setting, paying specific attention to the religious narratives used by the Dutch FBO, theInternational Network of Local Initiatives with Asylum Seekers (INLIA) and how this – if at all – affects the day-to-day practices and decision making processes of the organisation. It explores how FBOs operate in assisting displaced persons and elaborates on current literature by applying theory to my personal experiences of working as an intern at INLIA.

    I chose this topic because I was interested in the subject of migration and asylum and after securing an internship position with the Christian organisation INLIA, I was immediately interested in the role faith organisations play in the asylum process. I also wanted to explore the ways in which they differ from non-faith organisations in a post secular society.

    As a city to study in, I cannot recommend Groningen enough. It is vibrant, welcoming, safe, and student friendly. Although relatively small, there is something for everyone, with many festivals happening throughout the year, as well as university events. I was sad to leave at the end of my 1 year programme and I would love to return to the Netherlands on a more permanent basis in the future.

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    – Jessica Clark - UK
  • Testimonial van Nick Aleksiev - Bulgaria

    Important to show the impact religion has on people's lives

    I graduated from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. After my Bachelor's, I was wondering how to continue my education. I started browsing different European universities' websites in search of a Master's programme. The University of Groningen, one of the best educational institutions in the world, appealed to me.

    I am interested in politics, social affairs and conflict resolution, so the programme ‘Religion, Conflict and Globalization’ was the perfect choice. It is really interesting to see how religion engages with both the public and the private spheres, and to study its role in past and present conflicts. I think it is important to show the impact religion has on people’s lives. Perhaps religion could provide answers in some of the biggest debates, ironic though this may sound to some.

    I like learning about different scholarly perspectives through the academic literature. The discussions in class are also beneficial and motivate students to formulate their ideas in a friendly environment. The most challenging parts for me are the assignments and the academic analysis. I find it challenging to conduct my own research, and I am learning every day. At first I found it difficult to reflect critically on the literature, especially since I did not have a religious background, but the lecturers are really good at helping us to develop our thinking.

    I will do a placement at the Foreign Ministry in Sofia next year. In the future I hope to work with people. I like analysing a situation and being a buffer between two or more conflicting sides. At the moment I am looking at politics for my future career.

    So far, my stay here has been quite an adventure. The Netherlands is a colourful and vibrant place with a multicultural atmosphere.

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    – Nick Aleksiev - Bulgaria
  • Testimonial van Nikki Haze - The Netherlands

    Looking at the world without a Eurocentric lens

    After gaining my Bachelor's degree in History, I applied for admission to the Research Master's programme in Theology and Religious Studies. I chose to specialize in Religion, Conflict and Globalization because I wanted to study the role of religion in the contemporary world.

    In this programme, you do not try to ‘prove’ the existence of religions, but rather focus on religions as phenomena that influence people’s lives, identities and behaviour. You are encouraged to observe the world from a non-Eurocentric perspective. We may have become secular nations here in the West, where religion doesn’t play a large role, but that is not the case for the rest of the world. My fellow students have various backgrounds. This makes the discussions in class very interesting. I believe this Master’s programme not only helps you to expand your knowledge, but also transforms you personally.

    My thesis focuses on the role of religion in international development programmes. Since Western Europe dominates international politics, the development agenda is highly secular, and local religious and cultural systems are often not taken seriously. In my thesis I look at religious NGOs, and inquire whether they bring something new to the table in this regard. After graduating, I would like to pursue a PhD degree in order to learn more about this topic. In the future, I hope either to work as an academic or to establish my own NGO, one that strives to serve the interests and goals of local communities, not those of politicians or big companies. 

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    – Nikki Haze - The Netherlands
Feiten & Cijfers
Titel/Graad
MA in Theologie & Religiewetenschappen
Croho code
60824
Type opleiding
Master
Voertaal
Engels (100%)
Duur
12 maanden (60 ECTS)
Start
SeptemberSeptember
Vorm
voltijd
Faculteit
Godgeleerdheid en godsdienstwetenschap
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