Alfons Brüning studied History and Slavic Philology at the universities of Muenster, Freiburg and Berlin (Freie Universität) in Germany. Since the early 1990s, he established personal and professional contacts and paid regular study visits to Ukraine, Russia and Poland. Studies in religious history of early modern times, including the history of Eastern Europe, prompted his encounter with the sphere of Eastern, Orthodox Christianity also on a scientific level. After extensive studies on the paradigm of “confessionalization” (with Wolfgang Reinhard, Freiburg, and Heinz Schilling, Berlin) he received his PhD at Freie Universität Berlin in February 2005, with a study on confessionalism in Early Modern Poland-Lithuania. Since March 2005, he worked as research fellow at the university of Muenster (D), at the institute of Ecumenical theology (Thomas Bremer), faculty of theology. While still mainly engaged in a project on early modern history, the time at the ecumenical institute further contributed to a broadening of horizons and more general interests in aspects of modern history and theology of the Eastern churches.
Since March 2007, he started working at the Institute for Eastern Christian Studies in Nijmegen (NL), as a lecturer Eastern Christianity, with special focus on Russia and Ukraine. The new, interdisciplinary environment inspired further interest in also philosophical and conceptual questions, and led to the studies of Orthodox theology in relation to human rights as another focus. Next to his Nijmegen position, in 2012 he also became appointed as endowed professor “Orthodox Christianity, Human Rights, Peace Studies” at VU University and Protestant Theological University (PThU), both in Amsterdam. The endowed chair continued with PThU as single affiliation after 2017 and is held to this day. In 2022, Alfons Brüning took over the position of the director of the Institute for Eastern Christian Studies.
As a historian and religious scientist, Alfons Brüning is currently interested in, and works on various aspects of, Eastern Christian church history, especially “confessionalization, confessional culture” in Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe in general, and the history of Eastern Christianity under Communism. He also deals with questions concerning the social teaching of Eastern Christianity, concerning issues like human rights, war and peace, civil society, church and state.
Read more about the institute director's experience in his CV (pdf, 182 kB).