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The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization

  • From antiquity to modernity

About the Project

The ITN “The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization” is a research collaboration between 6 universities and 9 non-academic partner organizations across Europe. The project will trace the historical roots and transformations of the modern conception of humans as dignified and free beings, especially as met with in theological and philosophical traditions.

The ITN has two major aims: To train ESRs and to investigate the philosophical and theological traditions behind the modern Western conception of humans as free, valuable, and dignified beings, and how these traditions developed chronologically and geographically. The network will focus on the reception and assimilation of the theological ideas expounded by the church father Origen from the 3rd century Alexandria. He argued, among other things, for human freedom, dignity, and capacity to master sin, but his views lost to those of Origen’s mighty opponent – Augustine of Hippo – whose conception of humans was based on the doctrine of original sin, and who emphasized a predetermined fate, no free will, and human servitude.

Follow the link to read more about the project and the individual PhD positions: 

Read the full project description

Project Partners and Participants

The ITN is a collaboration between Aarhus University, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Univerzita Karlova v Praze, and University of Reading.

In addition to these six universities, the ITN cooperates closely with nine non-academic partner organizations: Mohr Siebeck Verlag, Franckesche Stiftungen zu Halle, Verlag Walter de Gruyter, Lutheran Church of Middle Germany, Dean and Chapter of Canterbury, Aschendorff Verlag, Dar al-Kalima College of Arts and Culture, The Diocese of Pécs, Christian Heritage Institute, and Etikos Aps.

Read more about the partners and participants

Finally, 14 ESRs are engaged in the ITNs research. You can read more about them on this page - here you will also find the trailer to the upcoming movie about Freedom, created by one of the ESRs.


2018.02.21 | Events

Workshop on Anne Conway in Cambridge - open invitation

Karen Felter, one of the ESRs, has arranged a workshop in co-operation with the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism on Anne Conway - part of an influential group of philosophers called the Cambridge Platonists. All those interested are invited to participate.

2018.02.20 | Events

Conference on Origen and the Origenian tradition on progress - Call for Papers

The organizers of a new conference on Origen and the Origenian tradition on progress, co-arranged by the Dipartimento di Storia, Culture, Religioni of Sapienza University of Rome and the ITN The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization, invites for papers - deadline March 8.

2018.02.11 | Events

Network-wide seminar II

In late February, the ITN participants will meet up for another network-wide seminar, this time in Drübeck, Germany. This is going to be an exciting event where some of the ESRs will present their most recent research.


Program: H2020 ITN-HHFDWC-676258
Participants: 14 PhDs, 6 universities and 9 non-academic partner organizations
Period: 48 months
Grant: EUR 3,651,149
Starting date: January 1, 2016
Countries: DK, DE, IT, CZ, GB, IL, HU
Coordinator: Aarhus University, Denmark

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 676258.

Network Coordinator

Anders-Christian Jacobsen

Professor with Special Responsibilities


Birgitte Bøgh (administrative coordinator), or +45 50 56 54 66

Upcoming events

February 2018

12-14: Origen’s theology and philosophy (Aarhus)

13-14: Lecture and seminar on Origen (Reading)

25-28: Network-wide Seminar (Halle)

March 2018

10: Workshop on Anne Conway (Cambridge)

May 2018

14-16Origen and the Origenian tradition on progress (Rome)

27-31  Contours and Expressions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures (Jerusalem)

June 2018

2: Colloquium Adamantianum II (Cambridge)

13-16: Origen’s Platonism (Los Angeles)

November 2018

29-30 Verurteilung des Origenes – Kaiser Justinian und das Konzil von Konstantinopel 553 (Münster)


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Revised 21.02.2018