Academy studies position and future of theology and religious studies

15 April 2014

The Academy has established a Foresight Committee on Theology and Religious Studies. The committee will survey the position of research and education in these fields of scholarship and, based on its findings, make recommendations to improve both disciplines. The Academy will present the results of the foresight study to scholars, research funding bodies and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in the spring of 2015.

Changes in the discipline of theology

The rapid process of secularisation has undermined the importance of ‘denomination-specific theology’ in recent decades, both within and outside the field. Another significant change is that religious studies, which aims to explain religion as a human phenomenon (from an outsider’s perspective), has broken away from the field of theology.

Aim of foresight study

The aim of the Academy's foresight study is to survey education and research in the fields of theology and religious studies in the Netherlands. Background factors include the changing position of religion in society, for example the rise of Islam. The key questions are: what are the most significant scholarly insights and trends? What opportunities and threats are there for both disciplines? In considering the latter question, the committee will explicitly consider the relationship of the two disciplines with associated fields of scholarship such as history, Hebrew, Arabic, sociology and anthropology.

Position and synergy

In addition, the Academy committee will explore the position of scholarship in the Netherlands and beyond, i.e. religious heritage, the social and political context (for example the university specialisation policy), and involvement in international trends. The committee will also consider options for generating more synergies between the two disciplines in future.


The Academy Foresight Committee on Theology and Religious Studies will report on its findings in the spring of 2015. The chairman of the committee is Ed Noort, emeritus professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen.