Resilience in Crisis

To what extent does meaning making contribute to resilience? Which dimensions of meaning making can we distinguish in social, cultural, political, economic and psychological resilience? Which forms of resilience contribute to an inclusive and healthy society? In the Resilience in Crisis project, scholars of religion and theologians from the Faculty of Religion and Theology (VU University Amsterdam), together with colleagues from other faculties and social partners, address these questions, which have become particularly urgent during the Corona crisis. 


The research at the Faculty of Religion and Theology is both of academic high quality, socially relevant and supportive of people’s world views. Part of the task of the academy is to look beyond the issues of the day, and to think a bit deeper and longer on those issues than elsewhere. The Corona crisis raises many fundamental questions about meaning makeing and resilience, which require deep thought and attention, in order to develop knowledge that can be relevant for the current crisis and for future crises. Working from various disciplines, religious and non-religious world view traditions, and expertise in the broad field of sources, traditions, beliefs and religious practices, the Faculty of Religion and Theology wants to contribute to answering these questions. 


The Corona crisis, which started in 2019 and continues into 2020, is a theme par excellence that touches on the resilience of people and communities, society and culture, and economic, political and ecological systems. The crisis is both a personal and a collective 'contingency experience', in which meaning making can come under pressure on the one hand, and on the other hand be an important source of coping and social change, social involvement and innovation. Virtually every religious and secular denominational institution in the Netherlands is looking for ways to re-source and to come up with practices and stories that contribute to a resilient approach to the uncertainty, fear, vulnerability and dependence that the crisis entails. In order to find good, healthy and just forms of resilience, it is important to critically examine the resilience potential of meaning-giving traditions. 


The Resilience in Crisis project aims to investigate the role of religious and meaning making initiatives to promote resilience in times of crisis and to map the role of sources and traditions of meaning in (personal and collective) resilience. The project promotes interdisciplinary, intersectional and interfaith research collaboration within the faculty, in dialogue with other academic and social partners.

Concrete activities/projects

A number of short-term activities are currently being developed within the Resilience in Crisis project, including the first online faculty symposium Reflections on Resilience on May 20th. Do you want to contribute to this symposium? Read our Call for Contributions. In addition, more long-term projects are being set up, such as an interdisciplinary research project.


The current core team consists of Peter-Ben Smit, Pieter Coppens, Miranda van Holland and Johan Roeland.

Questions? Send an email to