The Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion NOSTER is a major platform for research and training in the fields of theology and religious studies in the Netherlands and Flanders. Thirteen research institutes in these fields have joined forces, providing a stimulating environment for some 200 members of staff and 50 PhD candidates.
NOSTER – an acronym of the ‘Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap’ – offers a training programme for PhD candidates and ReMA students by organizing seminars, conferences, and master classes with renowned scholars, both from the participating institutions and abroad.
NOSTER is institutionally embedded in the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies at the Radboud University Nijmegen. In 1995, the school was officially recognised by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW); in 2000 this recognition was extended for a second term and in 2005 for a third term until 2013. The school is responsible for the national training program for PhD candidates (and ReMA students) and a national research program that clusters the activities of the twelve participating institutions on this research area. This interdisciplinary research program covers a wide range of academic disciplines, in which different religious and philosophical traditions and practices are studied, using historical, literary, systematic or empirical methods, from an insider’s perspective as well as by studying religion and philosophy of life as social, historical and cultural phenomena. In the school religious scholars, theologians, philosophers (of religion), historians, and social and literary scientists work together. In order to stimulate disciplinary but especially interdisciplinary cooperation between senior members, NOSTER provides financial support for Research Collaboration Groups (RCG) and thematic seminars that are organised by NOSTER members themselves.
Through its website and bimonthly newsletters and announcements the school informs many Dutch and Flemish researchers of its activities. In recent years, the school has acquired several NWO grants for internationalisation.
The aim of NOSTER is to create an academic community in which research in the field of theology and religious studies can be optimally pursued. In this context NOSTER wants to bring both established and new generations of researchers in this field into contact with innovative disciplinary and interdisciplinary developments, theoretical and methodological alternatives, and broad overviews of possible applications. NOSTER stimulates new initiatives and explorations in research, and provides a national forum to further communication between the participating institutes with a view to both short- and long-term collaboration. NOSTER advances an outstanding and challenging curriculum in theology and religious studies for graduate students committed to excellence, consisting of an optimal combination of national and local educational activities. International exchange is strongly stimulated for the benefit of research and education.
The actual research training programme of NOSTER has two objectives. In the first place, without prescribing a uniform methodology, it serves to familiarise the trainee researcher with various forms of research in the field of theology and religious studies and the methods used in them. Secondly, it is intended to provide further training for trainee researchers and PhD candidates in the skills and techniques of the discipline which forms their background.
The following institutions participate in NOSTER: Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven, BE; Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR); Protestant Theological University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen; Theological University of Christian Reformed Churches Apeldoorn; Theological University of the Reformed Churches (Liberated) Kampen; Tilburg School of Humanities & Tilburg School of Catholic Theology; Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam; Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen; University of Humanistics; Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University; and Faculty of Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Partner Institutions Abroad
NOSTER has formalised international relations with the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), the Westfälische Wilhelmsuniversität in Münster (Germany) (Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät and Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät), Lunds Universitet (Sweden) and the University of Glasgow (Scotland)