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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


Christian Jaque Stub has written a Reader on reception theory and social network theories for all the ITN participants - and for others interested in the subject.

Download it here.

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.

The ITN also 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. The entire ITN is supported by a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).

Read more about the SAB, partners and beneficiaries

In addition, we have established fruitful collaborations with a number of external researchers and other networks - find them here.

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.

Upcoming events


14-16: Origen and the Origenian tradition on progress (Rome). Download the program here
27-31: Contours and Expressions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures (Jerusalem). Download the program here


2: Colloquium Adamantianum II (Cambridge)
3-4: Concepts of God and Man in Henry More’s Critique of Spinoza (Cambridge)
13-16: Origen’s Platonism (Los Angeles)


7: Beierwaltes Seminar III on Origen and Christian Platonism (Cambridge)


20: Beierwaltes Seminar IV on Origen and Christian Platonism (Cambridge)


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


12-14: PhD course in Human Resource Management (Aarhus)

This list is regularly updated. A PDF of main events (only updated every three months) is also available here.


2018.05.18 | Knowledge exchange

New ITN audios available - Origen and Augustine

In January and February 2018, Aarhus University hosted two seminars focusing on Augustine and Origen, respectively. We recorded all the presentations and have made them available on our ITN SoundCloud account. Find the titles and links below.

2018.05.15 | Events

Conference in Jerusalem - May 27-31 ,2018

A large, international conference will take place in Jerusalem this month. It is co-organized by Prof. A. Fürst and the ITN and will focus on the notions of the Self as they emerged in the Greco-Roman period.

2018.05.11 | Knowledge exchange

Andrea Bianchi: My internship at the Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle

How does an Italian experience three months of cold winter in East Germany? From January to March, Andrea Bianchi was an intern at the Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle. You can read in the report below what made this such a good experience.


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.

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



Network Coordinator

Anders-Christian Jacobsen

Professor with Special Responsibilities


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


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Revised 23.05.2018