Mission statement

Religion is everywhere. Knowledge of religion is essential for anyone who wants to understand the world. The study of religion is built upon a solid foundation of familiarity with those ideas and practices we call religions. Humans have developed religions to make sense of the world and of their own existence, and to structure their societies and assign meaning to the past. Crucially, context (place, time) and frames of reference (culture, individual sense-making) condition the manifestations of religion and its impact on individuals and society.

We study religion as human activity. We are fascinated by its diversity. Above and beyond mapping and representing this diversity, we want to explain it. To this end, we bring together scholars with expertise in individual religions with those who study religion from disciplinary and comparative angles in the social sciences and the humanities.

The expressions and the significance of religion in modern societies have changed dramatically, in our local environment and elsewhere. This is part of the permanent transformation of religion(s). In illustrating, interpreting, and explaining these dynamics, we adopt a comparative, multidisciplinary perspective. This is made possible by the breadth of relevant expertise at Leiden University, in terms of historical periods and culturally / linguistically / geographically defined places in the world.


The Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR) and the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) structurally work together, and have the same management team. Their collaboration is embodied in the multidisciplinary Religion & Philosophy network for faculty and PhD students, and extends to joint work and coordination in various degree programs and outreach activities.

Last Modified: 09-12-2015