International Centre evaluation 2005


During 2005, the Centre has been evaluated by an international academic committee consisting of Professors Miri Rubin (Queen Mary, University of London); Burcht Pranger (University of Amsterdam), and Gary Tomlinson (University of Pennsylvania).

The committee was presented with the publications of the Centre, the Centre suggestions for an extension project, and visited the Centre on 4 July.

The evaluation report of the committee – signed on 5 July – primarily concluded in a recommendation of an extension of the Centre.

Some of the most important passages are quoted in the following:

The first paragraph of the report:

“The Centre comprises experts in the study of Christian religious cultures, from the Carolingian period to the twentieth century. Its members are highly skilled in the use of appropriate sources, have a wide range of linguistic capacities, and are raising interesting questions in the historical appreciation of Christian rituals. The ambitious chronological span of the Centre's research and the comprehensiveness of its attempts to embrace the afterlife of medieval Christian rituals is impressive and probably unique. Moreover, within the Danish academic sphere the Centre provides a framework for a kind of thinking in the Humanities which would otherwise not take place. The Centre also boldly attempts to develop areas of intellectual discussion which may lead to intervention in contemporary political, social and cultural debates.”

Then follows a paragraph stating that the Centre is “engaging some of the key questions and concepts of research in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the last half-century” and continues: “Given the great ambition of the Centre's work it is not surprising that some areas of conceptualization still pose challenges to its members. It is inevitable, therefore, that any assessment of such a project would identify those areas of the topic which require extension and refinement. It is in this spirit that the Committee will offer some recommendations below.”

1/ Regarding “Research Quality”, the first paragraph is quoted in extenso:

“The committee read all the Centre publications, and each member of the Committee read extensively in Centre members' research publications. In addition, on 4 July 2005, the Committee attended a day-long event of presentations by Centre members of their individual research topics and results, which ended with a 90-minute session of open discussion. Each presentation reflected real expertise in its chosen field and employed some of the central concepts which animate the Centre's work. The findings of some of these sub-projects have been presented in annual conferences, which in turn have led to publications in the form of volumes of collected essays.”

After a (descriptive) comment about the wide range of projects the report goes on to say:

“1/i Achievements to Date

The committee sensed that in part because of this variety the ambition to integrate the members' work around key concepts in the study of rituals has yet to be realized fully. The group is close-knit with a distinctive esprit de corps animated by a charismatic leader. This is, of course, an advantage; it could be supplemented very productively by two new organizational features:
occasional visits by scholars of international stature for conversations aimed at clarifications of concepts and infusion of new ideas
delegation, as the programme develops, of some of the tasks of intellectual leadership to other members of the group (Dr Bruun, Dr Østrem and Professor Havsteen)

1/ii Plans for the Future

The structural recommendations made in 1/i will be particularly valuable in articulating the extension project ‘Norms and Nomative Discourses and Their Transformation’. As currently defined this title does not involve as fully as it might the impressive energies and achievements of the Centre sub-projects on ritual. The committee urges in particular that further definition and careful evaluation of ritual enhance the Centre's work, through the use of key concepts such as community/alterity, memory. During the discussion at the Centre it became evident that these concepts would merge easily into - as well as emerge from - the work of sub-projects and the overall field of Centre work.”

The text continues with descriptions of the Centre work and comments: “The Committee feels that the Centre has made some progress in the conceptualization of these issues, but that more needed to be done.” [...] “We support the underlying ideas presented in the application for the extension of the Centre's activities. Despite the Committee's misgivings about the Extension's title, it feels that the sub-projects are feasible and worthwhile. The Committee recommends that the extension project be enriched by engagement with ritual along the following lines:
• the application of categories of gender to the analysis of rituals
• self-identification through communal (ritual) action
• conflict and its resolution in ritual context
• roles of writing and print in transmission and codification of ritual"
Other points:

“Recruitment and Hiring

The Centre membership has been dominated by theologians and musicologists, with an admixture of art historians. Some major academic fields that have played too small a role, perhaps, are History itself and Anthropology. The addition of Dr. Biörn Tjällén for the extension period may begin to fill this gap, but the Committee believes that it would be of particular importance to include in the Centre's future plans scholars from these disciplines. This may take the form of visiting scholars, as suggested in section 1/i.”

“6 Publications

The Centre's conferences have resulted in three volumes of collected essays in English to date, and one in Danish. The essays in these volumes reflect some of the exciting research conducted by Centre members, and the production represents an impressive achievement both in quality and in quantity. Future volumes will no doubt gain greater visibility since they will be published by Brepols in a forthcoming series.

The next natural stage would be for members to produce full-length books. We hope that concentration on the writing and editing of collected volumes will not delay this. The Committee recommends that the Directors, advisors and friends of the Centre redouble their efforts in placing such important studies with publishers who will ensure that they receive appropriate international reception.”

The final section of the report follows after the last quotation:


The overall impression of this Committee is that the Centre is energetic, productive and supportive. It has successfully provided an organizational framework within which interdisciplinary thinking in the Humanities is fostered. It holds the promise of significant scholarly rewards, in addition to those already garnered, to be gained from this approach. For these reasons it recommends that the extension of the Centre's activities be granted. The Committee also recommends, however, that the international scope of the Centre be broadened and enhanced through the various means specified in its Report. Such a broadening would not only bring a renewed clarity to the central questions which the Centre addresses, but would also allow the Centre to emerge as a more influential interlocutor in international conversations in its fields. This will, in addition, allow younger members to flourish and fulfill their promise on an international stage. The Committee wishes, finally, to encourage the Centre to think of new and exciting ways by which its important explorations of European heritage might be conveyed to a larger national public. This may follow from contact with museums, seminaries, and high schools.”

On the basis of the evaluation report, further discussions with the Research Foundation including revisions of the suggested plans for the extension have led to the establishing of an extension period from 1 Feb. 2007 – 31 Jan. 2010. See Extension research Plan.