As a Branco Weiss Fellow, Dr. Aurore Schwab will investigate the potential impact of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on human societies. Through the analysis of the foundations, the emergence and the dissemination processes of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with methods from religious studies, global governance and sustainable sciences, she will contribute to the most fundamental scientific debate about living together on a finite planet.
Switzerland and France
- Certificate in Network Dynamics of Social Behavior, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, 2021
- Certificate in Sustainable Development Goals, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2021
- PhD in History of Religions, University of Geneva, co-direction with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland, 2016
- Certificate in International Human Rights Law, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 2014
- MA in History of Religions, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 2009
- BA in History of Religions, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 2007
- Swiss National Science Foundation Fellowship, University of Lausanne and University of Geneva, 2021-2022
- Swiss National Science Foundation Fellowship, Centre of International Research at SciencesPo and Groupe Sociétés, Religions et Laïcités at Paris, 2018-2021
- Fritz Stolz Prize for the PhD dissertation, 2018
- Swiss National Science Foundation Fellowships, Centre of International Research at Sciences Po Paris, Groupe Sociétés, Religions et Laïcités at Ecole pratique des hautes études Paris, and Department of History at Hong Kong University, 2017-2021
- Oxford University Fellowship, 2014
- Swiss National Science Foundation Fellowship, McGill University, 2013
- Les Réformés: Des clés pour maîtriser les conflits religieux (in French)
- RTS (Swiss radio), Hautes Fréquences – Religions et Spiritualité: Une boîte à outils du religieux à l’Uni de Genève (in French)
- HR Today: Les nouveaux défis du facteur religieux en entreprise (in French)
Branco Weiss Fellow Since
Sciences of Religions
Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva, Switzerland
From time immemorial and all over the world, humans have invented religions, i.e., systems governing relations with superhuman actors or non-humans (animals, plants, minerals etc.). Through collective myths and rites, religions produce common norms, shape shared emotions, and provide the foundation for several core societal functions such as coordination, justice and survival. During the modern period, the nation state has been built on the foundation of a civil religion, which makes the social contract and the laws sacred, and unifies, on the same territory, individuals not gathered by a cultural, linguistic or religious unity. As a result of the peace of Westphalia in Europe in 1648, international relations are still currently structured around the competition between nation states. However, because all human societies are today facing the common danger of an uninhabitable planet due to climate change, global cooperation is required. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals as a “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity” (A/RES/70/1, preamble). Because this new social contract 1) integrates an unprecedented number of United Nations and non-United Nations actors, 2) includes a superhuman actor, the planet earth, and 3) produces or reshapes global myths (such as the Flood in Sustainable Development Goal 16) and rites (such as the annual ministerial meeting on Sustainable Development Goals), the Sustainable Development Goals may be construed as an emerging “planetary religion”. Testing this hypothesis will mobilize the interdisciplinary perspective at the crossroads of Sciences of Religions, Global Studies, and Sustainability Science as well as the methods of discourse analysis, participant observation, semi-structured interview, and network analysis. Conducting this research will advance scientific knowledge and, potentially, have an impact on all human societies.
To evaluate the foundations, the emergence and the potential dissemination of the Sustainable Development Goals as a “planetary religion”, Dr. Aurore Schwab plans to achieve three objectives of research:
- Theoretical, Conceptual and Taxonomic Foundations. The objective is to create an epistemological framework based on a critical reading of fundamental authors (such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau) as well as to retrace the legal genealogy of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Emergence of the Sustainable Development Goals. The objective is to make visible the mythology (i.e., the network of meaning) of the 17 icons, 169 targets and 232 indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to explore the Sustainable Development Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
- Dissemination of the Sustainable Development Goals. The objective is to understand the normative processes inside and outside the United Nations through the focus on three types of actors: nation states, religious or faith-based organizations, and profit-oriented companies.