The World Council of Churches (WCC) celebrates its turbulent 70-year history in 2018. This course will revisit the ways in which the WCC from its inception dealt with questions of political and international order and security. Every decade has its own challenges and debates that will be addressed, such as the reconstruction of post-war Europe, post-colonialism and social justice, and nuclear disarmament. By viewing the WCC in its shifting political contexts, this summer school opens up new ways of looking at the nexuses between the histories of religion, politics, and international relations.
After 2017 remembered the quincentenary of the Reformation, 2018 celebrates the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in 1948 in Amsterdam. Already during its prehistory of almost four decades before 1948, the WCC and its predecessors thought deeply about how political and religious developments and action interconnected. During the Second World War, the WCC in formation’s office in Geneva, led by the Dutch secretary-general Willem A. Visser ‘t Hooft, became a focal point for Resistance groups throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.
In the early post-war period, quite a few ecumenists took up political positions and as such closely witnessed the two processes that came to define post-war Europe: the initiation of European economic integration and the Cold War’s East-West divide. Political and spiritual reconciliation in this post-war world was paramount for the young organization.
Post-colonial reality and the acceptance of new Asian and African member churches to the WCC (at the 1961 New Delhi Assembly) posed wholly new questions of social and economic justice. In the 1970s and 80s, the WCC was a vocal player in discussions on non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, a debate in which it continues to be involved to this day – the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, ICAN, being a close partner.
This summer school looks at the way in which the WCC and its key persons have dealt with these geopolitical matters from historical, doctrinal, political, and societal angles, while revisiting the cradles where this ecumenical journey began: the Dutch cities of Utrecht and Amsterdam.
The summer school is inspired by the NWO-funded research project ‘Blueprints of Hope. Designing Post-War Europe, 1930-1963: Ideas, Emotions, Networks, Negotiations’, a Free Competition Grant awarded to Professors Beatrice de Graaf, Mathieu Segers, and Peter-Ben Smit at Utrecht University.
Lecturers will be announced in due time.
For questions about the course fee, please contact the course director.