What is the Future of Religious Studies?

This week we decided to do something a bit different. Every time David and Chris have conducted an interview, they have been asking the interviewees an additional question: “What is the Future of Religious Studies?”

The result is this highly stimulating compilation of differing perspectives and levels of optimism on what has become one of the most hotly debated topics in the academic study of religion at the start of the second decade of the twenty-first century.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes.

The underlying motivation behind placing this question on the agenda of the Religious Studies Project was one of finances. In the current economic climate – particularly in the UK – and with the increasing commodification of the Higher Education sector. It is no longer acceptable for academics to sit pontificating in their ivory towers, and every discipline (but particularly Religious Studies) is finding itself increasingly in the firing line in terms of funding and resources. This issue is so pressing that the British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR) and the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion Study Group (SOCREL) – the two professional organisations that together represent the UK’s leading scholars in the study of religion – have joined forces to present a joint panel on ‘Public benefit in the study of religion’ at the BASR annual conference, September 5-7 2012 University of Winchester, UK.

However, this is not the only issue on the table. Topics range from interdisciplinarity and institutional conflict, to innovative new methodologies, directions and foci. Some of these academics have already appeared on the Religious Studies Project, others’ interviews have yet to be released, yet each has their own unique perspective to offer, and we hope that you appreciate this compilation.

Featured in this podcast (with links to their previously released interviews):

We wanted to do something special with this podcast, because it is the tenth edition of the Religious Studies Project. We hope this has been a worthwhile exercise! Later in the week, we will be releasing a ‘unique’ response to this episode, and we hope it will prove similarly worthwhile.

If you stick with us for the next ten episodes, you’ll be treated to interviews with Bettina Schmidt (University of Wales), Markus Davidsen (Aarhus University), Bejamin Beit-Hallahmi (University of Haifa), Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University), Ariela Keysar (Trinity College, Massachusetts), Bron Taylor (University of Florida) and more…


9 replies
  1. Avatar
    Bagher Talebi says:

    Good Job!

    I as a researcher and lecturer of religions would like to thank you for your good and usefull job in RSP. I downloaded several of you brodcasted file. These are very helpful and usefull.

    Thank you from Iran( University of Religions and Denominations( urd.ac.ir)


    • Avatar
      chris says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words! Please do help spread the word among your colleagues, and let us know if you’d like us to try to focus on anything in particular!

  2. Avatar
    musa adesina abdu-raheem says:

    There is no doubt that you are blazing the trail in revolutionizing approaches to Religious Studies on the international level. Please, keep on with this noble project. You are inspiring and motivating many of us especially in Africa and other developing nations. God bless you.

  3. Avatar
    Eliza Wood says:

    I have been enjoying your podcasts on the future of religion and the fiction or film-based religions and have written several blogs and articles including links to your podcasts.

    One of the topics we are focused on is the modernization of scripture itself within ancient religions. Please forward any related material on this particular topic.

    Please put me on the list for upcoming conferences if professionals outside academia are welcome.

    Eliza Wood

    Editor: http://www.progressplanet.com

    Contributor: The Huffington Post

    Contributor: Ground Report News

    Author: Crisis of Faith

    Author: The Tale of Queen Jehan And The Three Kingdoms

    General Editor and Sponsor: The Pacific Bible

    • Avatar
      David says:

      Hi Eliza,

      If you subscribe via RSS or email, you’ll receive our Opportunities Digest every friday with details of upcoming conferences and publications. And non-academic participants are always welcome!

  4. Avatar
    Jeng Kel says:

    This a great resource for those of us teaching in Religious Studies departments. I’ve been using some of these podcasts to spark discussion in a Religious Studies methods course at a graduate program I teach at in Indonesia. If I could make a suggestion, however, it would be to make transcriptions of these podcasts that could be downloaded as well as the audio. It’s often much easier for non-native English speakers to read in English than to follow a recorded interview, especially if the interviewee has an accent.

    • Avatar
      David says:

      Thanks for the compliment – it’s fantastic that you’re using these in class, that was always an aim of ours in making them. The idea of producing transcripts is appealing, but is unfortunately simply too much work at the moment, but is something we’d like to do in future. It might be worth looking for volunteers do one each and send them to us. We are considering adding a subscriber section to the site with material aimed at teachers, and transcriptions would be a great resource for that. Another possibility might be a book of a selection of the best interviews from the first year to raise funds for the site.

  5. Avatar
    Randy Philip Orso says:

    I was excited to hear these ideas on the future of religion. Given the rise of the so-called non-affiliated or Nones as media has termed them, or as Dr. Diane Butler Bass has called the spiritual-but-not-religious and the spiritual-and-religious awakening in the post-modern approaches to religious identity, a question addressing this new emerging group might be a good question to ask for future podcasts. Forgive me, if you have already delved into that subject, I am new to navigating your website and look forward to future podcasts.


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