Aims & Scope

Since the turn of the 21st century, the new interdisciplinary field of Religion and Development established itself with the emergence of a growing corpus of literature investigating the manifold relationships and interactions of religion and development. Those publications are of cross-disciplinary interest, with research spanning from religious studies and theology to anthropology, regional studies, sociology, politics, economics and development studies. At the same time, research about religion and development is moving in a highly transdisciplinary space, in which governments, international organisations, development agencies, non-governmental organisations and religious communities and organisations engage in the generation of knowledge on the subject jointly with academic actors. Religion & Development (R&D) seeks to contribute to this field by publishing original, peer-reviewed research as well as in-depth, peer reviewed reflections from policy and practice.

R&D is transdisciplinary and welcomes contributions from across the social sciences and humanities as well as from practice and policy. In this journal, both religion and development are understood in a wide sense.

Religion encompasses all forms of institutions, organisations, communities, networks, movements, scenes, cultures, beliefs, practices and activities that can be described as religious, including those which take up the function of religion or which espouse similar normative, ideological claims. R&D has a multi-religious scope not limited to any specific faith tradition.

Development is taken as a marker for manifold processes of social, economic, ecological, political and cultural dynamics, change and transformation. Within this framework, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are one important point of reference. The marker “development” hence serves to encompass all the realms covered by the SDGs and includes contributions relating to one or more of the dimensions of the SDGs (e.g. gender, ecology, economy, inequality, social services etc.). References to development can be explicit or implicit. Moreover, the journal invites contributions that critically engage with the ideological prerequisites and concepts of development, for example in the framework of post-development thinking and discourse, theorising and conceptualisation of alternatives to development, and development alternatives. Lastly, development stands for a policy and practice field in which international organisations, governments, development agencies, humanitarian agencies, private enterprises, non-governmental organisations, religious communities and organisations, individuals and other actors engage in numerous practices, activities, projects, programmes and so forth.

Regarding the scope of contributions published in R&D, this opens up several possible lines of inquiry.

  • A first line of inquiry asks for the contribution of religion to processes of (sustainable) development. What is the (positive or negative) role of religion and religious communities for development in different contexts across the globe?
  • A second line of inquiry follows the critical approaches in the field seeking to provide a space to move beyond instrumental or functional approaches. The journal intends to challenge dominant, secular development paradigms by exploring religious notions of development and juxtaposing them with those in the mainstream development discourse. What are the notions of development or alternatives to them brought forward by religious communities? R&D opens up a space for debating the arguments coming from a post-development perspective criticising and questioning the term, the notion, the policies and the practices of development altogether.
  • Third, the journal serves as an important forum for the practical side of religion and development. This will include in-depth analyses of the work of religious actors in the social, economic, ecological and political realms – covering their activities, their structures, their effectiveness and so forth. How do religious actors operate in the development field? How are religious communities involved in development cooperation? What are the tensions in the practical application of religions in development?
  • Fourth, looking ahead to the year 2030, the question naturally arises as to whether there will be a new global development agenda to replace or augment the Sustainable Development Goals and what the implications of the religion and development debate would be for such an agenda. R&D therefore not only seeks to describe the world as it has been but to actively contribute to shaping the future of development or post-development alternatives by providing a space for discussing the implications of the religion and development debate for a possible post-2030 development agenda.

For more information, kindly see the introductory article to the journal’s inaugural issue (from which parts of this text are taken): Philipp Öhlmann, Olufunke Adeboye, Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Barbara Bompani, Nadine Bowers-Du Toit, Jennifer Philippa Eggert, Marie-Luise Frost, Wilhelm Gräb, Juliane Stork, Ignatius Swart, Tanya van Wyk, and Olivia Wilkinson. "A New Journal for a New Space: Introducing Religion & Development", Religion & Development 1, 1 (2022): 1-24.