The conference Religion and Spirituality as Sites of Learning, organized by the Donner Institute and the LeNeRe-project (Learning from new religion and spirituality), will take place on site in Åbo/Turku, May 15-17, 2023.  The conference starts on May 15 at 10 a clock and ends on May 17 at around 15 a clock. The keynote lectures will be streamed and open to everyone. You find the link to the webinar in the programme below.

    • Call for papers is open 3.10.2022-17.1.2023 – the deadline has been extended
    • Notification of accepted abstracts 3.2.2023
    • Registration is open 3.2-3.4.2023
    • Conference dates 15-17.5.2023

Conference Programme 

Monday 15 May 
Coffee and Registration – Entrance Hall
Words of Welcome: Terhi Utriainen and Ruth Illman Aud. Armfelt A102
Keynote: Kim KnottThe case for ‘unlearning’ in the study of religions: Pros and cons, interconnections and added value
Chair: Terhi Utriainen Aud. Armfelt A102
Link to webinar:
Lunch – Café Arken
Parallel Sessions

1. Westermarck C101 – Chair: Ville Husgafvel
Reet Hiiemäe: Hop-on hop-off spirituality: from consumerism and entertainment to learning
Marcus Moberg & Tommy Ramstedt: Teaching Mindfulness in Church: The Case of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Katarina Plank, Helene Egnell & Linnea Lundgren: The new ritual specialists of the Swedish folk church – lived religion, new spiritual practices and theological legitimacy

2. Aud. Voltaire M127 – Chair: Helena Kupari
Joanna Krotofil, Dagmara Mętel & Dorota Wójciak: Learning to navigate the alliance between the Catholic ideal of a mother and the ideology of intensive mothering – the experiences of women attending a Catholic mother and child group
Tiina Mahlamäki
: Learning to knit
Mari Metso
: Neo-Buddhist women transforming caste and gender boundaries through studying, learning, and teaching

3. Aud. Goethe L104 – Chair: Ruth Illman
Hanoch Ben Pazi: Religion and Spirituality as Sites of Learning
Miriam Feldmann Kaye: Learning as an Idea: ‘Hospitality’ from a Philosophical Perspective
Ville Hämäläinen
: Dangerous Dialogue: The Teacher, Learner, and Communication in Kierkegaardian Religious Learning

Coffee Break- Entrance Hall
Parallel Sessions

4. Aud. Westermarck C101 – Chair: Måns Broo
Teija Rantala & Nella van den Brandt: Embodiment and sensory unlearning of women disengaging from religious belonging
Päivi Salmesvuori: Trancepreacher Helena Konttinen (d. 1916) and her yearly performance of penance
Emine Neval: Where are the women? The Gulen movement in Finland

5. Goethe L104 – Chair: Sofia Sjö
Ada Elgabsi: Religious (il)literacy? An investigation of the relationship between religion and culture in the school culture in Swedish-speaking lower secondary schools in Finland
Lise Eriksson, Victor Dudas, Aje Carlbom & Birgitta Essén:
Religious Literacy in Healthcare: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Perceived Religious Discrimination
Nina Maskulin: An apocalyptic film as a site for learning equality

6.  Aud. Armfelt A102 – Chair: Linda Annunen
Jaana Kouri: Learning in contemporary shamanism
Katri Ratia: (Re-)Appropriated Practices for Radical Democracy in European Rainbow Gatherings
Linda Woodhead: What They Don’t Teach You in School: Spirituality, Paganism and Alternative Learning

Panel Discussion: ‘Eastern Spirituality’ in Arts: Inspiration, Appropriation, Conversation , Nina Kokkinen, Linda Annunen, Måns Broo & Ville Husgafvel
Chair: Ruth Illman Aud. Armfelt A102

Get-together reception at Arken including the presentation of the Donner Institute Research Prize to Maija Butters
Performance by Päivi Hirvonen
Entrance Hall


Tuesday 16 May 
Panel Discussion: What did we learn about religion and
learning  in the LeNeRe project? Linda Annunen, Maija Butters, Ville Husgafvel, Helena Kupari, Tiina Mällinen, Terhi Utriainen & Siiri Virta
Responses by Kim Knott and Linda Woodhead
Chair: Terhi Utriainen  – Aud. Armfelt A102
Coffee Break – Entrance Hall
Parallel Sessions

7. Aud. Westermarck C101 – Chair: Sofia Sjö
Elisa Mikkola: Women learning a new profession in the field of New Spirituality
Emilia Plichta: Impact of Catholic Church’s teachings on childless women in Poland
Ella Poutiainen: Sacred feminine leadership? Teaching and learning gender within feminine spiritualities

8. Aud. Voltaire M127 – Chair: Marcus Moberg
Anders Aschim: First language Catholic catechesis in Norway: Learning (religion) for the diaspora?
Dmytro Markov (online): An education and the revival of Nepalese (Newar) Mahayana Buddhism: to educate an old Buddhist priest and a young Buddhist scholar
Teemu Toivonen: Communal life as a context of learning

9. Aud. Källan C201 – Chair: Maija Butters
Elad Ben David: Social Media as a Platform for Religious Spirituality during Covid-19: The Case of Jewish Israeli Preachers on YouTube
Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska & Joanna Krotofil: Polish Islamic Internet as a Site of Learning
Robin Isomaa: How to Think like an Atheist: Analyzing Atheist-Produced Educational Content on YouTube

Lunch –
Café Arken
Keynote: Daniel Winchester: Let Us Attend: Religion, Spirituality, and the Education of Attention
Chair: Helena KupariAud. Armfelt A102
Link to webinar:
Coffee – Entrance Hall
Parallel Sessions

10. Aud. Armfelt A102 Chair: Terhi Utriainen
Yael Dansac: Somatic Pedagogy in Contemporary Spiritual Practices
Nataliia Pavlyk: The Bodily Practices in Jain Yoga: Learning the Steps to Liberation
Ilona Raunola: A Process of Spiritual Nutrition

11.  Aud. Westermarck C101 – Chair: Sofia Sjö
Sawsan Kheir: Secularization Among Young Adult Minority Students in Israel: Processes of Learning and Unlearning Religious Worldviews
Igor Mikeshin: Humility and Obedience: Russian Baptist Conversion as Unlearning
Liya Xie: Unlearning Religion in Churches: Why did Soviet anti-religious museums fail?

12. Aud. Goethe L104 – Chair: Ruth Illman
Lena Roos: The Green Sabbath Project. A Day for Learning about Our Place in the World
Laura Wickström: Learning About the Environment Within Islamic Tradition

Conference Dinner at Kåren

Dinner Speech: Peter Nynäs
DJ: Jokakeli
Hämeenkatu/Tavastgatan 22


Wednesday 17 May
Parallel Sessions

13. Aud. Westermarck C101 – Chair: Helena Kupari
Martina Björkander
: Dancing steps of faith: Kinetic-somatic learning processes in charismatic worship
Heidi Jokinen: Altar Flowers – awing or learning
Helena Kupari
: “Back row sign of the cross”: Conversion as learning through legitimate peripheral participation in the Finnish Orthodox community

14. Aud. Voltaire M127– Chair: Terhi Utriainen
Peter Boros:
Redesigning Buddhist education in early 20th- century China
Aaron French: Esotericism Against Capitalism? Rudolf Steiner’s Esoteric Pedagogy
Tiina-Mari Mällinen
: Learning Compassion, Unlearning Egoism -Mother Amma’s Devotees’ Continuing Life Lessons

15.  Källan C201 – Chair: Maija Butters
 Mikko Autere: Aesthetic and mystical cognition. Learning appropriate reactions to Sufi poetry
Olivia Cejvan: Revelations according to schedule: Secrecy as didactics in the initiatory society Sodalitas Rosae Crucis
Helena Hildur W
: Interfaith Dialogue by Images

Coffee Break –
Entrance Hall
Keynote: Mulki al-Sharmani
 : Women Living with, Learning from, and Reasoning with the Qur’an: Selected Experiences from Finland and Egypt
Chair: Maija Butters Aud. Armfelt A102
Link to webinar:
Lunch –
Café Arken
Parallel Sessions

16. Aud. Armfelt A102 – Chair: Linda Annunen
Tero Heinonen: Kirtans and sacred chants as sites of learning
Laura Hellsten: Dance as a spiritual formation practice
Jip Lensink: Embodied and Emotional Practices: Learning Religious Songs among Moluccan Christians in the Netherlands

17. Aud. Källan C201 – Chair: Ville Husgafvel
Karima Karppinen: Applying Mysticism to Psychotherapy: Can Transcendent Experiences and the Expanding of Consciousness be Beneficial in a Non-Religious Therapeutic Context?
Ariane Kovac: Taking Christianity to Therapy: Spiritual (Un-)Learning and Mental Health in a Global Megachurch
Andrew Thomas: Self knowledge in education

Closing words
Conference reflections by Kim Knott and Daniel WinchesterAud. Armfelt A102
Coffee and farewell  – Entrance Hall