Workshop Title:
Polarization in higher education 

Workshop Description and Topic:
The wars in Gaza and Ukraine; everyday and institutionalized racism; the ongoing legacies of colonialism: many of us experience how these and other conversation topics incidentally lead to hostile situations on campus. Students and staff are struggling to find a way to address these tensions. Faith traditions have long histories of conflict but also of peaceful co-existence with others. Religious traditions have fueled wars but they have also contributed to conflict resolution. As spiritual counselors – or however we call ourselves these days – we are therefore equipped to play a role in dealing with polarization in higher education. If we are self-conscious and skilled.

In this workshop we will present a way to let students experience the boundaries of a productive dialogue. The work approach is participatory, meaning participants will engage in the – potentially conflictive – dialogue. We will conclude with a reflection on the experience and collect the takeaway messages to put the workshop into practice in your work setting.

Presenter’s Biography, highlighting your professional background:
Rob van Waarde is spiritual counselor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and Leiden University and supervisor and trainer at Training Center Kor Schippers. His dissertation ‘Eye to Eye’ (2017) explores the spiritual aspects of missionary and diaconal community building in disadvantaged life conditions, and proposes a theological understanding of these aspects. He teaches the course Adults and Children in a Polarizing World at Honours Academy (Leiden University). He devises workshops to increase inquisitiveness in co-creation with students and staff on campus The Hague (Leiden University).

Wietske de Jong-Kumru is spiritual counselor at Erasmus University and at Inholland University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam (NL) since 2021. From 2016-2020 she was a Juniorprofessor at the University of Flensburg (Germany), covering theology of the religions and interreligious learning. Her dissertation on Postcolonial Feminist Theology (2013) explores the ongoing legacy of colonialism in Western academic theology.

Maximum Number of Participants for the Workshop:

Any special considerations for participants, such as mobility requirements:

Indication of whether the workshop contains any religious content, specifying the religious affiliation if applicable:
Open religious affiliation, presenters are Christian, i.e. ministers of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN).