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Call For Papers – Negotiating Good Life in Times of Crisis: Voices of Theology and Religious Studies

Call For Papers

PThU International Conference warmly invites you to submit a paper proposal, to participate in this international conference, and to reflect with us on good life from various contexts, in times of crisis and beyond.

We invite paper and panel proposals on, but not restricted to, the following topics:

  1. Historical perspectives on negotiating good life in times of crisis.
  2. Discussions of texts and religious sources that relate to crisis.
  3. Christian understanding and practices as a source for the good life.
  4. Reflections on the relationship between various types and levels of crisis (ecological, health, economical, global and local disparity) and religion.
  5. The critical role of academic theology and/or religious studies when reflecting on crisis, good life and lived religion.
  6. Case studies of empirical practices in past and present through which the good life is negotiated and furthered.
  7. The role of interreligious dialogue and cooperation in negotiating responses to crises and establishing criteria for good life.
  8. Philosophical reflections, such as on the ontology and epistemology of the good life.

Guidelines for submitting proposals – Determine which type of proposal you wish to submit. You can either submit an individual paper proposal or a panel session proposal.

Paper proposal – A paper written by you (and possibly a co-author) that you will present in response to the conference theme. The timeslot for a paper presentation is 20 minutes.  Please submit the title of your proposal, and an abstract of 300 – 400 words describing the content of the proposed paper on the website ( https://www.pthu.nl/en/news-and-events/events/2021/10/pthu-international-conference-negotiating-good-life-in-times-of-crisis-voices-of-theology-and-religious-studies/ )

Proposals must include one’s name, email-address, and current affiliation and position, if any.

Panel proposal – A proposal of a complete session of 3 or 4 different papers on a common theme related to the conference theme, complete with its own description, title, a presider, paper presentations, and (optionally) a respondent. Presenters in a panel session must submit their proposals (each also with a title and abstract of 300-400 words) to the panel session organiser, who in turn is responsible for submitting the entire proposal.

Timeslot for a panel is 60 or 90 minutes, with each paper presentation lasting no longer than 15 minutes. The proposal should include for all participants one’s name and current affiliation or position, if any.

Deadline for submitting proposals: 31 March, 2021.


Dates of the conference: 25-28 October, 2021
Venue: De Thomas, Prinses Irenestraat 36, 1077 WX Amsterdam
Theme: Negotiating Good Life in Times of Crisis: Voices of Theology and Religious Studies

Keynote lectures by
Dr. Cynthia Rigby, USA
Dr. Allan Boesak, South-Africa
Dr. Aruna Gnanadason, India
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, The Netherlands

Young theologians’ panel with
Thandi Soko-de Jong
Ruben van Zwieten
Almatine Leene o.v.
Martijn Stoutjesdijk

Conference Overview

Theologians and scholars in religious studies are called to reflect on good life. This international conference seeks to create a platform for reflecting together on good life in the face of the interrelated crises of today’s world. The conference aims to explore what constitutes a ‘good life’ and in what way ‘good life’ is envisioned and promoted in religion. We will inquire sources as well as beliefs and practices, in both historical and contemporary perspective. How do Christians and others negotiate ‘good’ life in times of crisis?

Crisis situations have an enormous impact on people’s lives. Natural disasters, illness, conflict or violence: they all affect people’s health, mind and social wellbeing. It’s during such times that people reconsider what it means to live a ‘good’ life. How can they flourish when they’re confronted with economic or environmental collapse? How do they give meaning to their lives when their job is on the line? And what makes their lives worth living when they’ve contracted a fatal illness?

Theologians and religious scholars ask questions like:

  • Which sources do we use to define what good (and bad) life is? How do people implement those sources?
  • What makes a source or an activity that furthers good life in times of crisis ‘religious’?
  • What does a Christian understanding and how do Christian practices contribute to good life?
  • How do competing views and practices of good life relate and interact?
  • Can various ways of looking at what good is and how it is obtained, exist side by side?
  • Can we learn from takes on good life that differ from ours?
  • And, importantly, is good life in times of crisis for one compatible with good life for another? Can good life for humans also be good for animals and nature – and the other way around?

Good life is about meaning: Good life is often connected to living a meaningful life: a life worth living, that contributes to flourishing. It can be applied in many other contexts, as well: when coping with crises, vulnerability, fragility, hardships and suffering or in context of care and ageing, communities that deal with disaster and in response to ecological challenges.

Good life from a religious perspective: Viewed from a religious perspective, good life typically relates to a transcendent and ultimate reality. It is, for example, characterised by being created in the image of God, by a covenant, good deeds, salvation, reconciliation, liberation, grace, discipleship, love, service, responsibility, compassion, community and, what has been called, eschatological imagination.

Christian theologians may refer to divine presence and intervention, to God, revelation in the Bible, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, cultural and religious experience. Other religions may call upon different sources. Religious studies scholars don’t necessarily identify with the various religious phenomena and sources they study. This may, in fact, also be the case with theologians when they refer to sources, beliefs and practices from the past. Those were once authoritative and inspiring, but are now challenged by new developments. This hermeneutical challenge also holds for developing views on what is good life in religious perspective in times of crisis.

Renegotiating visions of a good life: Visions of good life need to be negotiated time and again, within a person, within a religion, and between persons, religions, and different contexts and situations. They may coincide or collide with other forces and ideals: political, economic, national, ecological, religious, cultural and many more. This is not only a phenomenon of our time. Throughout history and across the globe, cultural and religious traditions have interacted and often clashed, triggered by processes of globalisation,  human mobility, and economic disparity. Aspects of religions that were long taken for granted are challenged by religious diversity, sexual diversity, awareness of gender, racism and ecology.

Shifting visions on good life during a crisis: In times of crisis, religious identities react and shift. For example, the ecological crisis fundamentally calls into question the anthropocentric worldview of Western Christianity. The current racial struggles challenge the way we read and interpret our religious sources. Health crises involve negotiating moral views on life and death. All these factors challenge existing views of what is good.

Globalisation and good life: Globalisation is an ambivalent process, from many perspectives, including a religious one. On the one hand, a global world triggers world-wide solidarity by religious communities. A multi-cultural and (digital) network society bears the possibility for mutual enrichment of religions. It enables inter-religious dialogue. On the other hand, unchained globalisation may cause wars, excessive migration, poverty, and global natural, economic and health crises, which also bear local and personal effects. In today’s world, the individual, local, regional, national and global levels are inextricably connected. In turn, such crises may bring out the good in people. They learn to appreciate their local communities and environment and display solidarity and care for each other. They take a break from the rat race and may even decide to change their lifestyle drastically.

Religious sources for negotiating good life in times of crisis: History has known other periods with extensive globalisation, such as the periods of Persian, Greek and Roman dominion. The Mediterranean world in this period is the cradle of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the classical rabbinic literature, and the Koran were consolidated or written in this period. These sources bear witness to similar crises and responses to crises in different periods. Yet many of them are considered authoritative or inspiring to the present day. Throughout history, theological reflections on, additions to, and interpretations of these sources have been produced continuously, and they do until the present day. These reflections and interpretations, including those of people from the margins, have led to new practices and rituals. Asian religions such as Buddhism are currently gaining followers far away from their places of origin. Together with new religious forms, they offer sources for, and ways of dealing with good life and crisis.

Dates of the conference: 25-28 October, 2021

Venue: De Thomas, Prinses Irenestraat 36, 1077 WX Amsterdam

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us: conference2021 @ pthu.nl

Organising Committee

Prof. dr. Henk de Roest
Prof. dr. Heleen Zorgdrager
Dr. Lieve Teugels
Shingi Masunda, MA
Drs. Albert Nijboer, International Officer
Esther van Beem, Communication Advisor

Protestant Theological University

The PThU is a specialised university for the study of Christian theology, whose proud history stretches back over 150 years. Its renowned predecessors from Kampen, Leiden and Utrecht joined forces in 2007 to form the Protestant Theological University. Since 2012 the PThU has had its campuses in Groningen and Amsterdam. https://www.pthu.nl/en/


Scientific research at the PThU is divided into two research groups. In the Moving Identities research programme, we ask about the influence of global processes on the identity formation of people and communities. Our research programme Mediating Good Life focuses on the question: what is a ‘good life’? https://www.pthu.nl/en/research/


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