Prestigious award for Professor Bryan Turner

Friday, 31 July 2015

Internationally acclaimed award recognises ACU's Institute for Religion, Politics and Society Director for outstanding research.

The Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society have named ACU Professor Bryan Turner and Hans Joas from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin recipients of the Max Planck Research Award 2015. 

The two were recognised for their explanations and proposed solutions to such questions as the significance of religion in our day, whether the universal validity of human rights can be justified, and what ensures cohesion in multicultural societies.

Each of the award winners will receive 750,000 euros, to be presented at an award ceremony in Germany in December. The prize money may be used over a period of three to a maximum of five years to fund research chosen by the recipient.

“Secularization and Modernity – Social and Religious Pluralism” was the focus topic of this year’s Max Planck Research Award: a subject that has not only provoked academic interest but that is also highly topical politically and socially. 

The Max Planck Research Award is one of the most highly endowed academic prizes in Germany. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is awarded annually by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society to one researcher working in Germany and one working abroad. The topic of the invitation for proposals is alternated annually between the fields of the natural sciences and engineering, the life sciences and the human sciences.

Social philosopher Hans Joas and sociologist of religion Bryan Turner have provided major impetus for a new understanding of faiths in our time. The two men are regarded as luminaries in their field.

Both believe the much-vaunted secularisation of our society represents a perspective that is too one-sided. This is because people who are not religious also have fundamental convictions and hold particular values.

Professor Turner’s research interests include globalisation and religion, religious conflict and the modern state, and human rights and religion. He is the Director of the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at ACU and holds the position of Presidential Professor of Sociology and Director of the Mellon Committee for the Study of Religion at the City University of New York. 

Hans Joas has been an Ernst Troeltsch honorary professor at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin since his retirement. As a young academic, he initially worked at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development after gaining his doctorate.