Significant EU funding for research on religious tolerance and peace

The University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Theology research project, led by church historian Mikko Ketola, has received €270,000 in funding under a multinational Horizon 2020 project.

“The main idea of the Religious toleration and peace project is to study how Europe has throughout its history tried to secure the rights of religious minorities and the coexistence of various religions,” says Mikko Ketola, university lecturer of general church history.

The topic is approached through various methods, including the analysis of historical peace treaties through the centuries. In addition, the researchers will study how themes of religious tolerance appear in the speeches of contemporary politicians, on online youth forums, in museum exhibitions and on TV shows, such as the Norwegian Skam.

“The most extraordinary feature of the project is that the research results will be processed into material that will enable school pupils around Europe to create historical mini-documentaries with their teachers using smartphones and tablet computers. The intention is to later make these videos, or docutubes, openly available,” Ketola explains.

According to Ketola, the involvement of the Faculty of Theology is highly important for the research project, in terms of both furthering scholarship and creating an international network.

“I will spend my research period on a topic that has always fascinated me, even though it is far from typical church history research. I get to study TV shows with religious themes,” Ketola enthuses.

The coordinating university for the multinational project is KU Leuven, and the head of the project is Professor Patrick Pasture. Other institutions involved in the project include the Open University in the UK, the Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte in Mainz in Germany, the University of Granada in Spain, the University of Tartu in Estonia, the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje in Macedonia and the University of Warsaw in Poland.

In addition to historians and church historians, the group features sociologists, social scientists, anthropologists, legal scholars and education experts. The research project will launch in April 2018, lasting just under four years. The total funding of the project is more than €2.4 million.