History

Workshop for the Academic Study of Religions was founded as youth non-government organization Youth Association for the Study of Religions (YASR) on April 2004. Larysa Vladychenko was elected to be the first president of the organization.

The first carried out event was the round table Bible in the Context of the Progress of World’s Humanitarian Thought. It was devoted to the 100 th anniversary of the Ukrainian translation of the Bible. In 2005, the organization initiated the Religious Studies Club, which explored various topics, starting with the relations of religious studies and theology, modern atheism, legislative work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the field of religion, and discussion of the international conflict around the caricatures of Muhammad.

Since 2005 our organization has been conducting a series of research on national and religious tolerance of Kyiv students and Ukrainian pupils, worldview and civic position of Protestant seminaries students, and civic position of Ukrainian Muslims.

In 2006, the organization conducted the first religious studies summer school, devoted to religious education. Religious studies schools have become the hallmark of the organization and during long time they have been conducted at least once a year. YASR has conducted more than 15 religious studies schools, devoted to Judaism and Islam, Catholicism and Orthodoxy, phenomenology, geography, and psychology of religion, Protestantism and New Religious Movements, Vaishnavism and Buddhism, Western esoterism etc. 

Since 2009 YASR has started to organize seminars and round tables in the regions of Ukraine (Donetsk, Lviv, Chernivtsi, Ostroh, Kharkiv) and to co organize international religious studies conferences in Minsk.

In 2009, there was founded Youth Association for the Study of Religions-Lviv and in 2010 – Donetsk Regional Youth Association for the Study of Religions. In 2010, our organization started to publish journal Essays on Religious Studies, and in 2012 – the collection of papers De Religione.

Center for Jewish Studies, Center for Academic Islamic Studies, Center for Study of Philosophy of Religion, Center for Religious Education Research functioned within the organization for some time. These centers carried out their successful projects: summer schools in Jewish studies (2010 and 2011), international seminar on Islamic studies (2011–2013), seminar-discussion Knowing the Supernatural: Ways of Philosophy of Religion (2011) etc.

Our organization has initiated the conduction of an annual Congress of young researchers of religions Religion in Modern Culture, held in Kyiv (2014), Chernivtsi (2015), Lutsk (2016), Lviv (2017), Kharkiv (2018) and again in Kyiv (2019).

In 2011–2013, Iryna Fenno was the president of the organization, in 2013–2015 – Oleg Kyselov, in 2015–2019 – Ruslan Khalikov. In 2019 the organization changed its name to Workshop for the Academic Study of Religions, and in 2020 Karen Nikiforov was elected as its head.