Religion and the Idea of a University

3 - 5 April 2013, Cambridge

Videos of the keynote presentations can be found here.

On April 3 -5 2013, the project hosted an exciting international and interdisciplinary conference exploring the question of: What place does religion have in the Western research university?

From John Henry Newman’s Idea of a University to recent work by Stefan Collini, Martha Nussbaum and many others, the idea of the modern research University has been the subject of a great swathe of intellectual debate, policy wrangling and rhetoric – circulating around conflicting models of intellectual and social formation, ideas of the public good, and claims about the place of knowledge in a utilitarian age.

As the idea of a university has been contested and reconfigured, so too have ideas about the place of religion in the public sphere, the nature and limits of secularity, and the relations between religion and intellectual work. In a complex multi-faith and multi-secular world, a re-evaluation of the relationship between religion and the idea of a university is pressing.

This conference was the highlight in a two-year research project ‘Religion and the Idea of a Research University’ in the Faculties of Divinity, English, History and Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. Interdisciplinary in structure, this meeting has a bold ambition: to engage seriously with the question ‘what place, if any, does religion have in a secular research university?’

Speakers included (links lead to videos of the keynote presentations):

We acknowledge the kind support of The Association of Commonwealth Universities in bringing together the HE Leaders Panel sessions. A UK and an international panel were given.

  • The Right Honourable Charles Clarke
  • Dr Jonathan Nicholls, Registrary, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Dr Theuns Eloff, Vice-Chancellor, North West University, South Africa
  • Professor Prabhu Guptara, William Carey University, India
  • Professor Atta-ur-Rahman, University of Karachi, Pakistan