Research team

Center for Ethics

Expertise

Talks, lectures and workshops/seminars on the relation church-state, secularisation in the West, tolerance and pluralism, relation worldviews - meaning of life - science and history of ideas concerning religion and worldviews.

Co-creating complementary forms of welfare support across faith-based organisations and secular welfare state institutions (SOLIGION). 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

Our project sets out to produce better forms of collaboration and more complementary forms of solidarity between faith-based (including humanistic) organisations (FBOs) and secular welfare state institutions (WSIs). It does so by 1° examining the dynamic interaction between FBOs and WSIs in an interdisciplinary way and through a multi-method approach and 2° the co-creation by both FBOs and WSIs of new practices of solidarity and social support. The interdisciplinary and multi-method approach serves to 1° reveal the potentialities and frictions of FBOs in relation to the political standards of secular WSIs and 2° transcend essentialist and dichotomous views so as to understand existing forms of negotiation and mutual adaptation. In concrete terms, the project will map the FBOs active in the field of local social support in five cities (Research Project 1), examine the interaction between FBOs and WSIs from an historical and political-philosophical angle (RP2 and RP3), and create shared insights as well as new procedures and practices through action research (RP4). Building on this, the process of co-creation will involve two related working groups. WG1 will produce a concept and pilot for a dynamic and interactive social map and ICTinterface, proceeding from existing (fragmented, non-dynamic and non-interactive) social maps and the results of RP1 while jointly tackling issues of selection and definition. WG2 will build on the insights generated in the scientific part so as to conceive educational and training modules for 1° volunteers and social workers, 2° local employees (of WSIs) and policy makers, 3° instructors and mentors involved in the integration of newcomers, and 4° future professional social workers. Implementation is ensured through close collaboration with organizations targeting exactly these groups. The method of co-creation fosters implementation because the results will be based on shared concerns, insights and objectives.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Solidarity and religion in a modernizing and post-secular context: an historical, politico-philosophical and sociological analysis. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

Our project proceeds from the observation that the needs of those who fall victim to globalisation and welfare chauvinism are often addressed by faith-based organisations. These organisations do not sit easily in the current intellectual context, because social scientists are entrapped in old conceptions of solidarity, in which solidarity is seen as emanating from specific societal structures, rather than from a personal inner drive induced by a belief in god's presence and word. This is unfortunate because faith-based forms of solidarity can potentially lead to less calculated, more disinterested and less reciprocal forms of solidarity. In first instance, our project will therefor examine whether religious inspirations and faith-based practices could provide answers to some of the problems facing solidarity mechanisms today – particularly the need to look beyond the logic of the nation state. Specifically, we analyze the impact of religion on the way the community of givers and receivers is conceived. (RQ1) In order to avoid essentializing religions or denominations, we do so by concentrating on the relationship between faith-based motivations on the one hand and the secular and the modern or modernizing context on the other. In that respect, we also analyze to what extent the conception of the recipient was at odds with such 'modern' notions as natural rights and universal equality. (RQ2) In concrete terms, two projects in which faith-based forms of solidarity are empirically examined for two historically different contexts form the basis for a comparative approach to the question (1) whether proximity matters or networks stretching beyond the boundaries of the city or the state and (2) whether a sense of gratitude, dependence and paternalism was implied, or rather the emancipation and empowerment of the individual. Our methodological approach starts from the observation that the present-day social science scholar cannot be conceived as a neutral, objective and immutable observer. The analysis will by definition have a normative dimension, in which specific forms of solidarity are confronted with such broader political standards as human rights, democracy, fairness and justice (hence the involvement of political philosophy). Moreover, the ultimate outcome of the project will be conceptual and epistemological in that social science approaches to solidarity will themselves be transformed. To that end, a third subproject rethinks the concept of solidarity, based on the empirical analyses and the comparison of the two subprojects, in addition to interdisciplinary conceptual work. Overall, our project thus creates a hermeneutical feedback loop between social scientists and their subject matter (i.e. the views and attitudes of historical actors).

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Research team(s)

Paramagnetic species in catalysis research. A unified approach towards heterogeneous, homogeneous and enzyme catalysis (PARACAT). 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

PARACAT aims at educating a group of young researchers to implement methods for cutting edge research in the field of catalysis, comprehensively exploring for the first time the role of open-shell species, an innovative area at the intersections between chemistry, physics and biology. The programme puts strong emphasis on ethics and social reflections by combining the scientific expertise of (bio)chemists, (bio)physicists and industrial partners with the input of an ethicist to form a new generation of scientists capable to take up appropriate societal responsibilities as experts in their field. PARACAT is set up by a consortium formed by 5 academic beneficiaries flanked by 1 research institute, 3 industrial organizations and 2 academic institutions as partners, collaborating in the research and training activities to offer 10 early-stage-researchers the possibility of being awarded with double doctoral degrees in two different European countries. The overall PARACAT programme will address the role of paramagnetism in catalysis with a focus on a knowledge-based bottom-up approach, integrating homogeneous, heterogeneous and bio-catalysis with the objective of 1) designing new catalysts based on earth abundant and safe elements; 2) discovery of new and more sustainable reaction pathways for the activation of small molecules and selective oxidations by learning from nature; 3) enabling new routes for polymerization and de-polymerization reactions. The training programme overcomes barriers between traditional disciplines providing top level tuition on topics spanning from advanced spectroscopic methods, synthesis and property characterization, to quantum chemical modelling, and on a full set of complementary skills .The goal is therefore to build a chain of knowledge whereby fundamental understanding is translated into practical applications by the synergistic interaction between academic and industrial partners, in an ethical and social dimension.

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Research team(s)

Religious and citizenship education in a liberal, postsecular framework - with a special focus on the subject ECR in Québec. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

This project is part of the international RE research agenda wherein the next question is central: to what extent should 'teaching into religion' be replaced/complemented by 'teaching about religions' and 'learning from the study of religions', citizenship education and (moral) philosophy? This project will focus on this 'paradigm shift' from a philosophical and a religious-studies based point of view and is therefore original. There are two research fields: 1. An ethical reflection on the possibilities and limitations of RE in a liberal, post-secular society. Here, particular attention will be given to the Habermasian perspective of post-secularism and its implications for the place of religion, ethics and citizenship in compulsory education programs. The core question is how RE can at best be in accordance with the principles of liberal neutrality, (post) secularism, and with the fact of religious diversity. 2. A religious-studies based reflection on the process of deconfessionalizing RE, with special attention to the experience of Québec, where a general, compulsory subject éthique & culture religieuse (ECR) was introduced in 2008. The project will focus here on methodological questions such as: How is "religion" conceptualized, presented and studied in ECR? What is the approach towards and place of eastern and secular worldviews in ECR? How can religious texts be used within a methodologically a-religious subject? What kind of 'impartiality' is required for teachers?

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Research team(s)

Who feels integrated? An interdisciplinary analysis of patterns of identification and participation of three immigrant groups in Flanders. 01/07/2009 - 30/06/2013

Abstract

By means of a descriptive and analytical social scientific research as well as by means of a normative political-philosophical research, this interdisciplinary research project contributes to the knowledge of strategies and patterns of integration of the members of three minority groups (Turkish, Polish and Senegalese people) in Flanders. The core questions of this project are to which extend 1) integration is (paradoxically) linked to the recognition of differences; 2) strategies and patterns of integration are being influenced by specific features of demarcation (religion, ethnic and racial features, immigration history).

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Research team(s)

Separation of church and state in evolution. In search of an appropriate politic-philosophical framework. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

The relationship between religions (and worldviews) and the political community is not fixed, but always in evolution. The questions, central in this research project, are 1. What kind of recent evolutions challenge the relationship between religions (worldviews) and the political community in Belgium? 2. What kind of historical and philosophical perspectives are developed in the past, to guide these evolutions and challenges? 3. What are the relevant normative arguments and reflections, if we want to 'choose' a particular model or perspective?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)