The CRSR of Vilnius University was established in late 1992. Upon the restoration of Lithuania’s independence the University sought to return to the European university model and was considering the type of structural division suitable for religious studies and research. In the Vilnius University established by Jesuit monks in 16th century, an important place was dedicated to the Faculty of Theology (Catholic). Having properly considered the academic realities and needs in the restored independent Lithuania it was decided not to restore the former Faculty of Theology, but rather establish the Centre for Religious Studies and Research corresponding to identical structural divisions operating in modern European universities. The decision was passed having considered that the Faculty on Catholic Theology had already been restored at Vytautas Magnus University; moreover, it was prompted by an observation that the situation related to religion in the modern world requires going beyond theological studies and taking into account the largely secularized context of the modern world. Therefore the CRSR was established as the institution dedicated to research of the situation of religion in Lithuania and the modern world, promote dialogue both between different religions, and the religious and secular cultures and foster the Christian religious tradition at the academic level and on inter-confessional basis. Since 1994, the CRSR started implementing the Master’s degree programReligious studies.
The Center for Religious Studies and Research
- pursues research on religion that requires the high academic qualification and stimulates the integration of Lithuanian academic society into the network of non-confessional researches on religion in Europe and the whole world;
- permits representatives of various professions to gain a deeper knowledge of religious domain and prepares qualified specialists of religious sciences;
- analyzes the possibilities of tuning up the cultural tradition formed on the ground of various religions;
- stimulates dialogue between Christians and other religious denominations established in Lithuania as traditional and dialogue between religious and secular world-views;
- depolarizes the reflections on religion in the public discourse through academic research on religion;
- promotes respect for religious tradition, encourages ecumenism and the dialogue between cultures and religions by deepening tolerance and reciprocal understanding in society.
The CRSR aims
- to be the institution for religious studies and research analogous to the institutions that exist in European universities, to develop interdisciplinary non-confessional studies of various aspects of religion and its connections with other cultural areas;
- to investigate the religious phenomena as a whole, rather than be restricted to the disembodied disciplines of various religions.