Theology and the Public University


February 22, 2019 - February 23, 2019 / All Day
820 Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley, CA

For the past two years, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, has convened a series of workshops and seminars concerning, broadly speaking, the place of theology in the university. From the outset, our goal was to challenge narrow conceptions of both secular learning and “theology,” in hopes of fostering robust conversation about the teaching of religion in the pluralist setting of the modern university.

On February 22-23, 2019, we will be holding the culminating conference for the project. Entitled “Theology and the Public University,” the conference will assemble at Berkeley a group of talented and creative thinkers who we believe are pioneering new ways of imagining theology, broadly construed.

There are three major inquiry-areas for the conference:

Theology and the History of Learning: historical settings and genealogies of the interrelationship of theology and the modern landscape of university learning. Topics might include: formation of seminaries, theology faculties in historical relationship to other university faculties, religion in public and private universities, comparative historical dimensions, legal and political contexts, and so on.

Theology and Modern Secular Disciplines: with particular focus on the modern research university, an investigation of the particularity (or not) of theological learning in relationship to contemporary university disciplines, including but not limited to religious studies; comparative work on the varieties of theological learning in universities/seminaries/divinity schools; connections and tensions between secular and theological modes of inquiry; specificity (or not) of the public university in these discussions

The Limits and Possibilities of Theology in a Pluralist World: exploring how theology translates, or does not translate, across religious worlds; alternative vocabularies for the religious imagination; relationships between theology and other forms of religious knowledge and experience; theology in and beyond a Christian setting; provincializing theology; theology and inter-religious debate; what would theology have to be, to be in a public university?

Conference participants, location, and other details will be available in fall 2018. To stay abreast of this and other BCSR events and news, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and join our mailing list. You can find past BCSR videos and audio recordings on YouTube and SoundCloud.

The Berkeley Public Theology Program invites innovative thinkers and public figures to Berkeley to reflect on the past, present, and future of theological inquiry. Such lectures spark scholarly conversations on campus and place Berkeley at the center of global conversations on religion and public life.