Dec 212017
 December 21, 2017

We regret that Dr. Erhard Busek’s visit has been canceled. We will post another announcement if the visit is rescheduled at another time.

Religions and Public Life Visiting Scholar Dr. Erhard Busek will visit the Duke University campus Tuesday, January 16 through the morning of Friday, January 19th. During his visit, Dr. Busek will present a public talk and meet with faculty and graduate students.

His public seminar, on current issues around religion and migration in Europe, will be on Wednesday, January 17, in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (West Duke 101). The reception will begin at 4:30PM, followed by Dr. Busek’s seminar talk, “Religion and the Future of Europe,” and Q&A and discussion. For an abstract of the talk, please see below.

Dr. Erhard Busek has served as Vice-Chancellor of the Republic of Austria,  Minister for Science and Research, Minister for Education,  Special Representative of the Austrian Government for the Enlargement of the European Union, and Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. Now, among other positions, he serves as  Chairman of the Institute for Danube Region and Central Europe in Vienna, Coordinator of the “Southeast European Cooperative Initiative,” President of the Vienna Economic Forum, and as Jean Monnet Professor ad personam.

Now, among other positions, he serves as  Chairman of the Institute for Danube Region and Central Europe in Vienna,  Coordinator of the “Southeast European Cooperative Initiative,” President of the Vienna Economic Forum and as Jean Monnet Professor ad personam.

For more information, please e-mail Deirdre White at

Reception & Seminar: Religion and the Future of Europe
Wednesday, January 17
Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (West Duke 101)


Perhaps more than any other continent or civilization, contemporary Europe is secular. The majority of citizens hold neither religious belief nor practice. Ominously, cultural memories of religious heritage come up most often as arguments pitting Europe’s historical “Christian” identity against Islam, reflecting fears that growing immigration and refugee waves may indelibly reshape European identity. These fears have given rise to populist nationalism, a transnational phenomenon in integrated Europe. The growth of empathy and compassion, the emotional foundation of European identity, has not kept up with economic integration and the growth of these fears. This is the challenge the European Union faces. Despite a quarter century of political integration, the EU also suffers from internal social tensions and suspicions, mutually reinforced by religious tensions, even among the countries that launched the drive toward European unity (not to mention among the Eastern European countries that joined later).

To respond to current European fears of Muslims, better popular knowledge of Islam is crucial, as religious ignorance is staggering. Meanwhile, savvy and ruthless politicians both within and outside Europe misrepresent Islam for rhetorical and political gain. Some are nostalgic about the Cold War world, where European ideological and territorial fault lines were obvious, and the first ideas of a unified Europe emerged. But there is no escaping the new Europe, which is multicultural, multiethnic and multi-confessional. Therefore, we must think about new foundations for European unity, which call on the shared heritage of all religions present in the continent.