Senior lecturer and researcher, Utrecht University
Current position: Senior lecturer and researcher, Utrecht University
Past positions: - Assistant Professor Comparative (Philosophy of) Religion, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; - Supervisor/coach Interfaith Spiritual Care, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; - Visiting Scholar, Center or Process Studies, Claremont Graduate University USA - Fullbright Visiting Scholar, Boston College USA; - Visiting (Junior) Scholar, Nanzan Institute, Nagoya University Japan.
I am a comparative (philosophy of) religion scholar with a focus on Modern Buddhism, global religion, post-religious spirituality and the philosophical criticism of religion (see my personal UU-profile).
After my long-term engagement in the study of Japanese 20th century (Zen-)Buddhist thought, specifically in relation to American (Protestant) Christian thought, I recently shifted my research focus on contemporary Buddhism. I am now doing a project on the workings, meanings and use of Buddhastatues in Dutch homes as a vignet to understanding contemporary (post)religious and (post)secular life.
More about my research
Dutch livingrooms are inhabited by thousands of usually smaller statues of either Sakyamuni or the Chinese fat-bellied monk and luck-god. Both are usually indistinctively called ‘Buddha’.
Thousands of these statues currently fulfill decorative and other functions in Dutch livingrooms. Often, altars arise immediately or some months or years after the statues are placed. In a collaboration with students, I visit these statues, to see if and how the statues are (re)acted upon and thought about. In my research distinctive patterns arise for self-identified seculars, people who self-identify as ‘spiritual’, and people identify as (previously) Christian, Buddhist or both.
I started out in academia working interdiscipinary. Through periods of study in both Japan as well as the US, I traced 35 years of written and otherwise documented dialogues between Zenbuddhist thinker Masao Abe and six Christian philosophers and theologians. I wanted to know if and how this dialogue did (not) lead to mutual understanding possibly also to changes in participants’ worldviews.
I received a Fulbright Scholarship for research, which was one of the first comparative philosophy projects based not on the comparison of abstracted thought but on the actual transformations of these thoughts the global dialogue as it had actually manifested.
After an almost fifteen-year engagement in interreligious dialogue, I now focus more on academic matters. My focus on teaching in interactive classrooms remains. In the past, I received several prizes for this (VU Student Awarded Best Faculty lecturer 2007 and 2014; VU Education Center Awarded Good Practice prize 2008). Also I have taught seminars abroad (eg. Erasmus Visiting Scholar at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster 2013).
Recent scholarly papers/books:
Vroom, A. L. (2018). Diversiteitsleren in Religieonderwijs. Meerdimensionaal onderzoek in dialoog. Handelingen, (4), 51-59.