Research Project on Religion and Climate Change in the Netherlands

1 June 2023

A new research project at Tilburg School of Theology aims to provide insights into the religious vocabularies used in climate change discourse in the Netherlands and abroad. 

Climate change is a pressing issue affecting our world today, and it is crucial to understand the cultural and religious values that underlie discussions on the topic. That is the focus of the interdisciplinary research project "Religious Vocabularies and Apocalyptic Imaginaries of Climate Change in the Netherlands and Beyond," (shortened title: "Religion and Climate Change in the Netherlands"). This project is financed by NWO (Dutch Research Council and conducted at the Tilburg University's School of Catholic Theology.

The project aims to analyze and interpret the use of religious vocabularies. The presence of such vocabularies is researched within groups that are active on social media in the Netherlands and share a common interest in climate change. The team of four researchers, consisting of experts in the fields of Religious Studies/Theology, Media Studies, and Social Sciences, conducts a critical discourse analysis to better understand the ideological and practical impact of religious vocabularies that these groups employ in climate change discussions.

The research team is using an interdisciplinary approach to examine the use of religious imagery and rhetoric in the climate change discourse, with a focus on apocalypticism and religion-inspired views. The team examines the perspectives of both climate change activists and "climate sceptics," including far-right activists, antivaxxers, and conspiracy theorists, among others.

The project's scientific impact to fill a gap in the academic research on apocalypticism, religion, and climate change. By providing insights into the religious vocabularies used in climate change discourse, the project broadens the understanding of the cultural, religious, and spiritual values behind the public debate on climate change.

In addition to its scientific impact, the project aims to contribute to society by informing policy makers, media, civil servants, public opinion, and religious leaders about the religious language and imagery used by groups involved in discussions about climate change. The team hopes to encourage constructive dialogue and collaboration across religious and ideological boundaries to address climate change more effectively.

Throughout the project, the team will communicate its findings to the public through blog posts, knowledge clips, and open access general media, including major Dutch newspapers and international sites. The team also plans to organize a national symposium in collaboration with a major newspaper and develop a game to encourage dialogue and discussion about religion and climate change in group settings.

Overall, the " Religion and Climate change in the Netherlands" project promises to contribute significant insights into the role of religious vocabularies in climate change discourse and inspire constructive collaboration across religious and ideological boundaries to address one of the most pressing issues of our time.

More information on the website of the research project. You can also sign up for their newsletter.