In 2003, the UNESCO Chair on Religious Pluralism and Peace was entrusted by the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna to Giuseppe Alberigo, secretary of FSCIRE. The Chair is the first UNESCO Chair assigned to the city of Bologna. Its aim is to contribute to discussions among cultures and faiths through the formation of young researchers, with its vast library and archive, its research, editorial, journalistic and tele-visual activities, in the belief that peace for future generations can be created through historical research and by a meaningful exchange of viewpoints.
Its activities started on 13 September 2006 with the lecture held by Raimon Panikkar, one of the most important theologians in the 21st century. From 1 October 2009, the Chair was held by Prof. Alberto Melloni, who in 2003 succeeded Giuseppe Alberigo as the Secretary of FSCIRE. In October 2012, the Chair was assigned to Pier Cesare Bori, Professor of Moral Philosophy and Human Rights at the University of Bologna and affiliated researcher at FSCIRE. Since January 2013, the Chair has once again been held by Prof. Alberto Melloni.
FSCIRE provides the Chair with all the logistical, organizational and scientific support it requires. The activities of the Chair are maintained by public and private funds, and donations.
The UNESCO Chair participates in, sustains and patronizes many initiatives of FSCIRE and its support is active in the annual programming in different areas. The PluReS Master, the refresher courses for teachers, numerous events within the European Academy of Religion, international conferences, workshops and exhibitions benefit from the support of the Chair.
The Chair offers resources from the intellectual point of view, involving leading personalities engaged in various roles in the development of religious pluralism, and, from the social point of view, including the activities of FSCIRE in the international circuit of UNESCO Chairs.
The Chair is part of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Network of Chairs on Interreligious Dialogue for Intercultural Understanding. It cooperates with the UNESCO Chair of the Moscow Institute of Open Education and the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies, Jordan. Therefore, the Chair is part of the CONIUS Network of Italian Chairs.
There are currently 830 active UNESCO and UNITWIN Chairs in 110 countries. The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Program, launched in 1992, promotes international inter-university collaboration and networking to revitalize institutional skills through sharing of knowledge and collaborative work.
The Chair invites leading theologians and historians in the field of inter-religious dialogue to hold Lectiones Magistrales on religious pluralism and the respect for diversity in order to build a peaceful society.
After its establishment, the Chair started a program of lectures delivered by the masters of spiritual life and leaders of a peaceful encounter among faiths. The Chair has hosted, among others, Professor Raimon Panikkar, theologian; Father Timothy Radcliffe, General Master of the Dominican Order; Professor Yan Li Ren, member of the Academy of Sciences of Beijing; Professor Valerio Onida, former President of the Italian Supreme Constitutional Court; Roger Cardinal Etchegaray and Professor Romano Prodi, former President of the EU Commission.
Activities in support of a historical perspective in the study of religions and cultures
Through a series of activities (a Master’s degree course, conferences, seminars, and the publication of essays on the history of religions), the Chair aims to support a historical perspective in the study of religions and cultures, raise awareness of the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue in the general public and among scholars, and foster dialogue among religions and different cultures.
The Chair encourages research in the field of religious pluralism and peace with a strong emphasis on junior researchers, and it supports the research on topics such as Jewish-Christian relations in the twentieth century, the history of voluntary martyrdom, the hermeneutics of sacred texts, the relations between China and Christianity, and on Islamic theology and philosophy.
The Chair promotes academic study visits and academic exchanges between Bologna and China, the Arab world, the USA, Russia, Australia, Africa and Latin America. All those interested in applying are encouraged to send inquiries about the exchanges to: firstname.lastname@example.org.