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3512 HD Utrecht, the Netherlands

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University of Humanistic Studies Research Chairs Globalisation and Dialogue Studies

Globalisation and Dialogue Studies

Globalisation can be viewed as a process of intensive encounter and confrontation between groups of different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, which moreover hold different positions of power. These encounters and confrontations have a wide array of consequences: economic, technological, demographic, ecological, and so on. Our research concentrates on the images, narratives, values and ideals that people bring to these encounters.

How do people deal with profound differences in terms of values and beliefs in their everyday life? Why is there sometimes room for respect, while at other times a (violent) conflict ensues? Can we identify factors that foster an ‘active pluralism’, that is to say, concrete practices of a respectful treatment of deeply felt feelings? Consider as an example the ‘Zwarte Piet’ (Black Peter) debate in the Netherlands: will this remain mired in irreconcilable differences, or can we move the debate forward to create an enriched Saint Nicholas tradition? The concept of a dialogue is important here. A dialogue is not necessarily aimed at compromise and harmony, but offers room for constructive ways of dealing with conflicts.

Education and research
Globalisation has a major impact on Dutch society and the professional fields in which humanistic practitioners operate. The education and research activities of this chair group focus on the field of spiritual counselling, in the fields of chaplaincy  (healthcare, justice, defence) as well as in the newly emerging fields (e.g. independent  chaplaincy, spiritual counselling at the police, professionals in globalisation issues affecting education, organisation and policy, and so on).

The profession of spiritual counsellor is changing significantly in the wake of globalisation. The work was originally embedded in religious traditions and performed by for instance a pastor, priest or imam. Humanist spiritual counsellors entered the field in the 1960s. The secularisation of society has increased immensely since then, resulting in a further fragmentation of traditional religions and the emergence of various sorts of new and independent forms of spirituality.

This imposes different demands on the profile of spiritual counsellors. The challenge now is to develop a new perspective on faith and the pursuit of meaning in life, with which to respond to the needs of people in a swiftly changing world with ever-increasing options and opportunities.  (Woodhead 2014). Such a constructive approach to (worldview) diversity is called pluralism. In the practices of spiritual counsellors, the professional use of dialogue plays a key role.



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