Graduate Center’s Bryan Turner Receives the Max Planck Research Award For His International Work on Social and Religious Pluralism

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Graduate Center’s Bryan Turner Receives the Max Planck Research Award
For His International Work on Social and Religious Pluralism

NEW YORK, July 23, 2015 -- Presidential Professor Bryan S.Turner, director of the Graduate Center’s Committee for the Study of Religion, will receive the prestigious Max Planck Research Award for his work on secularization and modernity, focusing on social and religious pluralism.
The award, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education, provides 750,000 euros, or approximately $817,000 in funding, over a three- to four-year period.

Turner shares the prize with Hans Joas from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, who will also receive 750,000 euros.

The Planck Award recognizes exceptional scientists, both within and outside of Germany, who have achieved international recognition and are expected to produce outstanding academic achievements through international collaborations.
Turner will be hosted by the University of Potsdam during the funding period. He plans to create a research unit on religion, social diversity, citizenship, and legal pluralism, as well as a research network between the Graduate Center and Potsdam.

Working with young scholars, he also plans to launch a comparative project that will focus on “how the law responds to religious pluralism in four societies: the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy,” he says.

Turner completed his Ph.D. in 1969 and wrote his first book, Weber and Islam, in 1974. “At the time there was not a lot of interest in the sociology of religion in Britain and very little public interest in Islam,” he notes. “How things have changed! Because religion is now continuously in the public arena — as a consequence of social conflict, terrorism, controversy over same sex marriage, the veil, internal interest in Pope Francis, and so forth — the sociology of religion is enjoying a major revival and interest in Islam is intense. This award feels like a confirmation of my whole career.”

Turner is also the Director of the Mellon Committee for the Study of Religion at the Graduate Center. “This award will greatly strengthen the work of the Mellon Committee by creating a research network connecting the GC to developments in Europe,” he says. “It will encourage academic exchange and bring European scholars to the GC for lectures and research. I imagine there will over the coming years be a flow of articles and books jointly published by Graduate Center and German colleagues.”
One of the world’s leading sociologists of religion, Turner most recently worked on the role of religion in contemporary Asia and the changing nature of citizenship in a globalizing world. He has written, coauthored, or edited more than 70 books and more than 200 articles and chapters, including The Religious and the Political: A Comparative Sociology of Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

“In an academic career lasting some 45 years, there have been three pinnacles: the Cambridge University Doctor of Letters, my appointment to the Graduate Center and the Max Planck Award," Turner notes. "My only regret is that my parents, who sacrificed a lot, have not been here to witness this achievement."

About the Graduate Center
The Graduate Center (GC) is the principal doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York. Offering more than 30 doctoral degrees and fostering globally significant research in a wide variety of centers and institutes, the GC affords rigorous academic training in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. It is home to a core faculty of approximately 140 teachers and mentors, along with 1,700 faculty from across the CUNY colleges and New York City’s cultural, academic and scientific institutions. Through its public programs, the Graduate Center enhances the City’s intellectual and cultural life.

Submitted on: JUL 23, 2015

Category: Press Room | Sociology | The Committee for the Study of Religion