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Meditating and Mediating Change: State – Society – Religion

Too little, too late? How can we understand and react to the multifaceted changes that we are confronted with in our lives? Although we are frequently told that in today’s world the only consistency is change, our daily lives seem to be governed by a surprising consistency and lack of flexibility. Institutions and their structures, rules and regulations, habits and routines do not appear to accommodate what we have come to think of as our “fluid identities” (Bauman). On the other hand, we experience a lack of agency in reacting to the processes that not only have drastic future implications, but are increasingly seen as points of no return. Political uncertainties and climate change, demographic transformation, continual re-thinking of societal coherence in times of diversity, as well as new technologies that will redefine the notion of work, are often met with reactions ranging from resignation to ignorance. They sometimes erupt in aggression and violence against others, increasingly taking the place of critical reflection and civic engagement.


In order to develop strategies and methods to meet the immense challenges of our time, this summer school suggests engaging in academic contemplation and interdisciplinary exchange. In times of a constant devaluing of science and scholarship, taking the time for vigorous intellectual investigation is a radical act of resistance to quick-fix solutions. Meditating change and at the same time mediating change offers us the opportunity of developing disruptive intellectual approaches and ideas, as we can gain insights into political, social, economic, and cultural forces that make us believe that the challenges we face are essential, natural, and inevitable. Such thorough analysis offers us the possibility of moving from a passive position to active involvement in transformation processes in order to become agents of change by an authentic reformulation of our identities.


In our interpretation, meditating and mediating change is the taking on of the responsibility of intellectuals to offer critical in-depth discussion in a world of babble. This is a radical commitment to academic pursuit not as abstract, but as concrete and necessary as an engagement with state, society, and religion, in order to understand the dynamics and structures that govern us as individuals, but also determine the structures we are all governed by. Such an effort makes us understand the facts and figures, the material realities, and how they are culturally represented. The summer school will provide more questions than answers, and will allow us to investigate the different approaches to the definitions of state, society, and religion, and their interconnectedness. Focusing on the emphasis areas of the University of Graz – South Eastern Europe and North, Central and South America – this program will offer a basis for discussing global and continental challenges as well as opportunities that change entails.


Roberta Maierhofer and Barbara Ratzenböck

for the Academic Advisory Board



The Graz International Summer School Seggau is designed for internationally oriented, highly motivated students from all disciplines, who wish to deepen their understanding of current European and international affairs by studying and discussing global developments and challenges within the context of transformation processes and demographic change reflecting aspects of individual, social, political, religious, cultural, literary, regional, economic, cohort and national identities.


The University of Graz organizes the summer school in cooperation with the Commission of the Bishops‘ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) and the Diocese Graz-Seckau. The Office of International Relations of the University of Graz acts as the coordinating unit. Prof. Roberta Maierhofer (Center for Inter-American Studies) is the academic director.

Summer School Director: Roberta Maierhofer, Center for Inter-American Studies

Representative of the Diocese Graz-Seckau: Christine Rajic
Representative of the Comece: Michael Kuhn
Contact at the University of Graz: Eva-Maria Trinkaus and Ulrike Grassberger (teachers and students)


  • Interdisciplinary co-operation of teachers and students on the cultural, intellectual and historical dimensions of current European and International affairs in view of their positioning in a globalized world. 
  • Presentation in research and teaching of focus areas of the University of Graz – South Eastern Europe and North, Central and South America. 
  • Development and education of young leaders of tomorrow in the fields of politics, administration, business, science, culture and religion.


The venue of the summer school is ‘Seggau Castle’ located 45 km south of Graz, Austria.

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Contact for Students:

University of Graz (Austria): Office of International Relations

Tel. +43 (0)316 / 380-3926

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