Karen Armstong Flyer[6]
Karen Armstong

The Chair focuses on giving meaning and promoting dialogue between people with different philosophical and religious views in Dutch society. The focus is on which values can contribute to a ‘good life for all’ in a modern society, which is characterized by secularisation, individualisation and technologisation.

Karen Armstrong: “In our troubled world, religion cannot be a purely academic study; it must express practically and prophetically the profound wisdom that the great world faiths have, at their best, developed over the centuries, reminding us of the perennial need for compassion, justice, and reverence for both the human race and the natural world.”

In her work, Manuela Kalsky has been focusing for many years on how to connect differences in religious, ethnic and gender terms. Kalsky: “I want to move from an ‘either-or’ to a ‘both-and’ society, where there is room for multiplicity.” ‘Connect the differences’ is the motto of Nieuwwij.nl, the journalistic platform on cultural and religious diversity she founded in 2008 in cooperation with the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment and led as director until 2017. “On this journalistic dialogue platform, we look for those connections with the help of a diverse religious, social and academic network, based on lived experiences and reliable academic knowledge.”


Manuela Kalsky: “I want to investigate whether and, if so, which values from philosophical/religious traditions can be meaningful in this respect. For example, is transparency a new value in our society? Inspired by the Enlightenment, we believe that reason should permeate everything and make it transparent. It is an often-heard demand in the political debate. As a result, the mystery disappears. What does this mean? There is also the question of whether the concept of ‘inclusion’ actually does justice to the present diversity in our society. Important questions in the societal debate.”

She continues: “I am very honoured to be able to develop research in a chair that bears the name of Karen Armstrong. She is an acclaimed author and researcher who writes bestsellers on religious/philosophical issues and thus knows how to convey academic knowledge to a wide audience. Connecting lived praxis and academic reflection is what I strive for.”

The endowed chair will be hosted in the Humanism and Social Resilience research group. Chair and Professor Anja Machielse: “The work of Manuela Kalsky is an important addition to our research into humanistic values and the possibilities of making social and cultural structures in society more just and caring.”

About Manuela Kalsky

Manuela Kalsky
Manuela Kalsky

Dr. Manuela Kalsky is a theologian and held the Edward Schillebeeckx Chair at VU University Amsterdam from 2012 to 2022. She led an NWO research program on ‘hybrid religiosity in the Netherlands (multiple religious belonging)’ in collaboration with Prof. Dr. André van der Braak. As director of the Dominican Study Center for Theology and Society (DSTS), she led different multidisciplinary research programs on the intersection of religion and society. In 2008, in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, she founded the dialogue platform Nieuwwij.nl, which she led as director until 2017. Kalsky was Forum Humanum Guest Professor at the Academy of World Religions in Hamburg, Germany, and held teaching assignments at the universities of Vienna, Hamburg, Hanover, and Fribourg. She was for many years a member of the ‘theological eleven’ of the daily newspaper Trouw and is a popular speaker in the media and at conferences at home and abroad on current social issues regarding religious and meaning making issues.

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