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MOOC Religion and Conflict

Understanding the sources of a conflict is the first step towards solving it. Many conflicts today seem to have their roots in religion. But what exactly is the role that religion plays in these conflicts? The Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society of the University of Groningen is offering a free online course on Religion and Conflict . The course is open to all.

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) will offer a critical view on one of the most urgent problems in today’s society: the different roles that religion plays in conflict situations. The aim of this course is to show how a religiously framed conflict can be studied in the wider cultural and political contexts of these conflicts. Our point of departure is that religion means different things in different circumstances and to different people or groups of people. The course aims to show that conflict and violence are not inherent to religion, nor is religion merely the guise under which social, economic or political conflicts are fought out.


The course has been designed by three excellent lecturers from the Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society of the University of Groningen.

  • Prof dr Erin Wilson is a political scientist and Director of the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain
  • Prof dr Marjo Buitelaar is an anthropologist and Professor of Contemporary Islam
  • Dr Kim Knibbe is a sociologist and coordinator of the Master’s degree programme in Religion, Conflict and Globalisation.
The lecturers introduce themselves and the course in this trailer:

Structure of the course

The course will take six weeks. The first two weeks will set out the theoretical framework. The third week will focus on the question why religious conflicts have appeared to increase since the late 20th century. During the fourth week, we will analyse case studies such as conflicts over abortion policies in the United States and the rise of IS in the Middle East. In week five, we will shift our attention to the role of religion in peace-building and reconciliation. During the final week you will write a paper on the role of religion in a conflict of your own choice.

The course is open to everyone interested in the topic, both in the Netherlands and abroad, and is therefore taught in English. Some 9200 people around the world participated in the first run of the course in April 2015. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion of the course.

Massive Open Online Course

The University of Groningen aims to help create a stable, sustainable society through knowledge and innovation. To this end, the University is offering freely accessible courses to anyone interested – young and old, with or without qualifications, in the Netherlands and abroad. The University of Groningen aims to share its knowledge with everyone who would like to gain a better understanding of the world we live in. The University has been offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in collaboration with the British organization FutureLearn since 2014. FutureLearn is part of the Open University, a specialist in the field of online courses. The University of Groningen is FutureLearn’s first Dutch partner.

Signing up

You can sign up via the FutureLearn website.

Last modified:07 July 2023 3.18 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands