CRCS was established in 2000. The initial idea was to start a place for learning and research focusing on religious studies, based on reflection of Indonesian religious lives. The goal is to ask what each of us can learn from other religious believers that add to our own spiritual insight and heritage, to seek deeper understanding of each other, and to work together for a just and peaceful future. It started with a new graduate program on religious studies, which remains unique: it is the only academic program focusing on religious studies at a non-religiously affiliated university in Indonesia. The vision of the Center is to promote the development of a democratic, multicultural and just society in Indonesia by establishing a center of excellence on religious studies with a good reputation in the region.
All students in Indonesia were and are required to study religion from elementary school until university. Each group studies its own religion with teachers from their own religion. What CRCS offers is a Master’s degree in which students representing all the major faith traditions of the world study and learn about each other side by side, in the class room, from and with teachers coming from different religious and cultural backgrounds.
Religious and cross-cultural study means studying religion(s) in different cultural contexts. It is an alternative approach of learning other religions and cultures by recognizing the owners’ perspectives. Instead of looking at others as alien and inferior to a human culture, it looks at them as a part of the culture. Religious and cultural differences are considered as popular expressions shaping and shaped by local historical and sociological processes. Such an approach is important for the future of the multicultural society in Indonesia. Indonesian context has shown that religious and ethnic identities are often inseparable. These hybrid identities are the consequence of the interplay of many historical and sociological processes.
Religious and Cross-cultural studies explore different systems of beliefs, ideology, and practice of religions in particular cultural contexts. The study employs a critical analysis of the various methods and theories employed by scholars in their attempt to explain and account for religions. The center is concerned with the complexity and diversity of the forms of religion and attempts to understand its position and role in society.