The first Team Meeting for the three year International Research Project: ‘Religion in Societies Emerging from COVID-19’ was held in Belfast 29-31 August 2022.
In attendance were the four Principal Investigators of the project, Professor Gladys Ganiel (Queen’s University), Professor Solange Lefebvre (University of Montreal), Professor Kerstin Radde-Antweiler (University of Bremen), and Professor Slawomir Mandes (University of Warsaw), and four of the Post-Doctoral researchers, Dr Marta Kolodziejska, Dr Caoimhe Ni Dhonaill, Dr Mathieu Colin, and Dr Hannah Gruenenthal.
Held in Queen’s University, Belfast, the meeting covered a significant range of topics, debates and discussions. Over three days, the team shared their knowledge and insights from their home countries.
Day One saw the post-doctoral researchers presenting an overview of the main literature on the topic from the four research countries, focused on the three core research areas: Discourses around health, illness and science; Relationships with governments and policymakers; and Digital innovations. This discussion allowed some early connections to be made across the geographic areas, with some common themes, and important differences being identified. The afternoon allowed for consideration of the choices of religious groups in each area, with lively discussion around the choices for minority groups in particular. Day one also allowed space for discussion on some of the methodology to be used, as well as consideration of the religious documents to be analysed.
Day Two was the official launch of the research project, where the team had the opportunity to present ‘Recov19’ to assembled invited guests. The audience was made up of religious leaders and academics from a range of backgrounds, who mingled with the team over lunch, before Professor Gladys Ganiel presented the key concepts that the team will be investigating. This was followed by an address by Dr Andrew Holmes, Chair of Queen’s Religious Studies Forum. Holmes led an animated Question and Answer Session, which allowed the team to hear and respond to ideas from academics and practitioners in the field.
After this enjoyable launch event, it was back to work for the afternoon session of Day Two where the team discussed the themes they will use to code the religious and media documents. Themes included physical health and well-being, digital innovations, religious freedoms, the role of restrictions on religion, and many more, based around the three key research themes.
On the final day of the meeting, the team came together to address the list of tasks they had adopted on day one, to discuss any outstanding issues, and plan next steps. Despite the seemingly mammoth list they had created on day one, all were pleased to find that, due to working hard together, they had completed all of their main aims for this first meeting.
As well as completing the work planned, the team also had the opportunity to socialise and enjoy some of the food and sights that Belfast has to offer, enjoying meals together in the evenings. For the post-doctoral researchers in particular, this allowed them to get to know, for the first time, the team they will be working so closely with over the next few years. Overall, this was a very successful first meeting of the team, and we look forward to meting again, next year in Bremen.