The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies in the University Groningen practises scholarship at the very highest level. This is one of the conclusions contained in a report compiled by an international review committee and published on 5 July 2013. After inspecting six Dutch research institutes for Theology and Religious Studies, the committee branded the Centre for Religious Studies (the Faculty’s research institute) the best in the Netherlands.
Two of the three research groups in the Groningen faculty were awarded the highest accolade and may now refer to themselves as excellent. The ‘Jewish and Christian Traditions’ and ‘Religion, Representation and Power’ departments perform internationally authoritative research, and the researchers are leading the international field. The ‘Purpose, Tradition and Change’ department was hailed as very good, or in other words, nationally authoritative and of a high international standard.
The committee was impressed by the quality and quantity of publications. Theologians and specialists in religious studies from Groningen produce twice the national average number of publications for Humanities programmes. In addition, the committee praised the strong focus on the societal and social relevance of research and the alignment with current affairs.
The committee also commended the opportunity given to the Protestant Theological University in Groningen to join forces with the University of Groningen in developing a ‘Divinity School’ along the lines of an accepted and productive American concept.
Research in Groningen has enjoyed an outstanding international reputation since the reviews started in 1989. Groningen secured joint first place with Leiden in the first round of reviews (1989), and claimed the top position in its own right in later years (1994, 2000, 2005).
The Faculty is grasping the opportunity of this review to raise awareness of its focus on research into relations between religion and culture. For this reason, the Faculty has divided its research into three themed departments based on religion and culture. One department, ‘Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins’, is exploring the formative stages of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, studying their interrelationships and the relationship with the cultures in which they evolved. Another department, ‘Comparative Study of Religion’, focuses on the manifestation of religion and compares all worldwide religions. The final department, ‘Christianity and the History of Ideas’, examines the link between West-European Christianity and modern secular and post-secular culture.
Thanks to pioneering academic research, the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen has become the top centre of expertise in the field of religion, culture and society. Research and teaching in the Faculty revolve around the dynamic interaction between religion and culture, past and present, near and far, in public and private domains.
Teaching at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen is also of the highest standard. In 2013, the two Bachelor’s programmes in Theology and Religious studies received the quality award Top Programme in the Dutch university information guide Keuzegids Universiteiten. The panel of experts assessing Master’s programmes in Theology and Religious Studies for the Keuzegids 2013 judged the Master’s programme in Groningen as the best choice. This status is the result of an excellent, highly motivated team of lecturers and the opportunity for students to work in small groups with ample individual attention.
The Faculty has no confessional ties and is the only autonomous Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at a public Dutch university.
Download a copy of the review report here.
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