Skip to main content

Research Initiative for the Study of Russian Philosophy and Religious Thought



Critical new approaches to the study of Russian philosophy and religious thought in their global contexts and meanings

photo of a church

Russian philosophy and religious thought are part of the world's cultural heritage and have deeply enriched our understanding of what it means to be human. The defense of human dignity and human rights resounds in the Russian religious-philosophical tradition. The NU RPRT Research Initiative deplores the weaponization of Russian culture for the sinister purposes of authoritarianism and violence, just as it opposes “cancel Russia” sentiments abroad.

Learn more

Learn more


What’s New about the New Atheism? The Enduring Relevance of Russian Philosophy

Northwestern University, Evanston, April 21–23, 2023

The NU RPRT Research Initiative fosters scholarship about the global relevance of Russian philosophy and religious thought. Our inaugural conference will take place at Northwestern University in April 2023. It will focus attention on how Russian writers—artists, philosophers, and religious thinkers—have reflected on the fate of the transcendent in modernity. We invite papers exploring any aspect of this topic, including the role of faith and reason in human self-understanding, in social philosophy, and in the search for an integral worldview. Conference participants should aim to produce papers suitable (in their final form) for publication in Northwestern University Studies in Russian Philosophy and Religious Thought, an online platform that will exist in two forms, an annual journal and a “research series” for works longer than journal articles.

Learn More

Russian Literature, Philosophy, and Religious Thought in a Time of Catastrophe

Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP), Lisbon, March 14–16, 2023

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the atrocities it has committed raise an urgent question for students of Russian culture: What does it mean to study Russian literature, philosophy, and religious thought in a time of catastrophe? Russian intellectual and cultural history is rich, diverse, and complex. There are illiberal, indeed toxic forces within in that have served and continue to serve the sinister purposes of enmity and violence, whether in the form of nationalism and other varieties of tribalism, imperialism and militarism, authoritarianism and autocracy, or, in general, the denial of human dignity, equality and freedom. But there are also liberal, life-affirming forces in Russian culture that defy violence, lift the human spirit, and serve the transcendent purposes of truth, the good, and beauty. 

This symposium will foster discussion of the ideological roots and antecedents of today’s authoritarianism and violence, together with reflection on the intellectual and spiritual resources within Russian literature, philosophy and religious thought for the defense of human dignity, human rights, and universal human values. We invite participation in any form: papers, talking points, or conversation.


Learn More

Russian Literature and Philosophy: Religion, Nationalism, and Dissidence

In November 2022, the NU RPRT Research Initiative co-sponsored an international symposium at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil. The symposium was organized by Professor Jimmy Sudario Cabral (Religious Studies), in collaboration with Susan McReynolds. It hosted a global cohort of interdisciplinary scholars from North and South America and Europe, with backgrounds in Slavic literatures and cultures, philosophy, and theology and religious studies, as well as prominent translators of Russian. Presentations were organized around the following topics: religion, nationalism, and literature; dissidence and totalitarianism; Ukrainian and Russian voices; the dissemination of Russian literature in modern philosophy; and the work of Svetlana Alexievich. The November 2022 conference in Brazil was conceived as the first in a series of two, with Lisbon hosting the continuation in March 2023.
Learn More




Student Working Group
The Research Initiative for the Study of Russian Philosophy and Religious Thought student working group provides an interdisciplinary space for graduate students to share their research projects and to discuss critical new approaches to the study of Russian philosophy and religious thought in their global contexts and meanings.

Learn More

Who we are


The NU RPRT Research Initiative promotes free and open inquiry and diverse perspectives. It seeks to forge and occupy a unique space: secular and non-confessional but welcoming of colleagues with deeply-held religious convictions or commitments.

Meet the Participants



There are no upcoming events at this time

Back to top