Triennial of religion of The Salzburg academy week 2013-2015

The political and cultural presence of religions in Europe: Judaisum - Christianity - Islam

According to theories about public religion religions in a globalized world gain political influence.  Questions concerning European identity are often deeply connected with religious ways of argumentation – both positively relating to them as well as critically distancing themselves from religion. The interconnection between questions of European identity and religions can be discerned in European discussions and discourses about the constitution  as well as debates about religious symbols in society (crucifix, crosses or headscarves) and the hassle about religious rituals within the borders of democratic constitutions and legal systems and the duty of religious groups. Religious conflicts which use religious traditions as vehicles play crucial and wide-ranged roles  – for example in debates about blasphemy (the dispute about caricatures ) and signs of islamophobia, in present anti-Semitic instances  and new ways of criticizing Christianity. New Atheisms  bring in a new perspective which is connected to the "paradox secularization of Europe" . On the one hand one can experience the fading of religious traditions, on the other hand new ways of religious lives and a production of new religions can be observed (internet-religion, migrant churches). In  times of financial insecurity and social discussions about identities in the so called “post-democratic”  countries, elements of religion, society and politics are related in a new way.

Facing these challenges the "Triennial of Religion", organized in connection with the Salzburger Hochschulwoche, addresses present political, cultural, and religious questions in the European context.

Due to its success the series of Summer Schools, originally designed as a triannual cycle of seminars (2013-2015), has now been decided to be set forth.

Internationally well-known scientists will present topic-related problems both from an insider’s and outsider’s perspective. The broader aim is to throw light on the significance of the three monotheistic traditions for the process of European integration. 

Why a "Triennial of Religion"?

  • Present debates show that religions are being used for political purposes while on the other hand the actual knowledge about religions is declining.
  • At the same time the religious landscape of Europe is so diverse and varied that a dialogue on religious and cultural matters is all the more necessary. For the present generation of students the possibility to discuss such questions is a chance to get a deeper insight into the religious landscape in Europe. In the light of the broader topic "The Political and Cultural Presence of Religions in Europe" social, political, legal, economic, cultural and ecological questions have to be raised. By discussing these topics participants will get a deeper insight into questions of European identity. 
  • As present discussions about Europe are mainly reflecting on economic issues, it is important to raise the question which other aspects are crucial for European integration. Religions are not the sole factor in this process but they play an eminent role. Therefore, differentiated discussions between experts and students – both from the perspective of a religion’s insider as well as outsider – are asked for. 


Why the "Salzburg Academic Week" as a platform?

  • The "Salzburger Hochschulwochen" are the oldest summer university in Europe. They have been taking place since 1931. One of its main purposes is to deal with European questions in an interdisciplinary way that connects a Christian worldview with current interreligious, social and political questions. 
  • Each year at the end of July/beginning of August the “Salzburger Hochschulwochen” offer students from different European countries a diversified programme including lectures from well-known  scientist as well as a cultural programme in cooperation with the “Salzburger Festspiele”.
  • Therefore the "Salzburg Academic Week" seems especially apt as a platform for a "Triennial of Religion" that deals with European religious spaces and the importance of religious traditions in the  21st century.


  1. Scientific Level
    • Strengthening interreligious dialogue 
    • between European scientists and students 
    • in a high-level scientific discourse
    • with a special focus on the political relevance of religions for the question of European Identity.
  2. Level of Communication
    • Networking of PhD- and postdoctoral students in theology and religious studies by establishing a long term platform for young intellectuals and well- known scientists with a special interest in the political, cultural and religious dimension of Europe.






The learning programme consists of lectures, text-based courses and discussions employing productive methods of group work in a scientific setting. By participating in the whole programme students earn 3 ECTS-Credits (in the end an essay might be required that can be published on the homepage of our programme). In addition to the three key-note speakers  one scholar will accompany the whole triennial with his expertise. Thus an interdisciplinary approach to the programme’s topic is guaranteed (e.g. religious studies, intercultural theology, philosophy of law). 


In the evening there is the possibility to participate in the cultural programme of the Salzburger Hochschulwochen 


  • Research platform of the Catholic Faculty of Theology at the University of Salzburg
  • Salzburg Academic Week 


  1. Cf. José Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World, Chicago-London 1994.
  2. Cf. Georg Essen, Sinnstiftende Unruhe im System des Rechts. Religion im Beziehungsgeflecht von modernem Verfassungsstaat und säkularer Zivilgesellschaft, Göttingen 2004; idem, Verfassung ohne Grund? Die Rede des Papstes im Deutschen Bundestag, Freiburg u.a. 2012.
  3. Cf. Hans G. Kippenberg, Gewalt als Gottesdienst. Religionskriege im Zeitalter der Globalisierung, München 2008; Gregor Maria Hoff / Ulrich Winkler (Hrsg.), Religionskonflikte. Zur lokalen Topografie eines Globalisierungsphänomens, Innsbruck 2011. 
  4. Cf. Jean-Pierre Wils, Gotteslästerung, Frankfurt a.M.-Leipzig 2007.
  5. Café. den Bericht des unabhängigen Expertenkreises Antisemitismus des deutschen Bundesministeriums des Inneren, Berlin 2011.
  6. Cf. Gregor Maria Hoff, Die neuen Atheismen. Eine notwendige Provokation, Kevelaer 2009.
  7. Ulrich Beck, Der eigene Gott. Friedensfähigkeit und Gewaltpotential der Religionen, Frankfurt a.M.-Leipzig 2008, 40-42.
  8. Colin Crouch, Postdemokratie, Frankfurt a.M. 2008, 7-44.