About us

Who are we?

The Donner Institute for Research into Religion and Culture is a private research institute connected to the Åbo Akademi University Foundation (SÅA). Based in Turku, we provide:

  • a focal point for research on religion and culture in Finland and the Nordic countries,
  • a meeting point for discussions on religion and culture, open to researchers, students, cultural agents and society at large, and
  • a platform to view the wider world: we work to strengthen the visibility and impact of research in our field to enable new knowledge and new ideas to be born.

We aim to be the “spider in the web” that brings together people, knowledge, influences and insights within the research field of religion. With a focus on the Nordic countries, we aim to function as a central and influential actor in the international research environment within the field of religious and cultural studies: a focal point for research groups and networks, as well as a meeting place for academia, culture and society

Research on religion since 1959

The Donner Institute was founded in 1959 as the result of a testamentary donation by the married couple, Uno and Olly Donner. Their vision was to build an institution that “on strictly scientific grounds” should advance research into the history of religion and culture, with a primary focus on mysticism and esotericism, but which also should consider contemporary phenomena within the fields of religion, philosophy, science, art and literature – the whole “history of spiritual culture”. Consequently, our research concerns the field of religion in a broad sense, including also the research on culture in so far as it pertains to issues relating to religion.

Conferences, publications, grants and much more

According to the wishes of the donors, the Donner Institute is active in two main areas: research and library activities. The Donner research library is the largest in its field in the Nordic countries and is open to the public. The research focuses on the field of religion in a broad sense. Recurring activities consist of symposia (since 1962), roundtable conferences (since 2010), open-access publications, distribution of scholarships and prizes, support for symposia, seminars and events, and the maintenance of international networks within the institute’s research areas.

Our values

Scholarly quality. We strive to provide information services, research, research funding, events and publications at the highest scholarly level and to aspire to expertise and relevance within our field for students, researchers and other partners, both in Finland and internationally.

Openness. Our activities are permeated by the ideology of open science: the knowledge generated through the Institute’s activities and through our co-operation in international networks is available for global dissemination. Transparency in our decision-making is also a guiding principle.

Versatility. The Donner Institute is a resourceful actor in the field of religion and culture. Through our events and publications, we contribute to research at the forefront of international research, but we also inspire cross-disciplinary and cross-border discussions on culture, science and religion in the various sectors of society.

Open science

The aim of open science is to make research available and useable for everyone in the research community and in society. Open science promotes the reliability, possibilities to cooperation, and application of research results in society. DI wants that the knowledge the institute is part of creating is freely available, and therefore we recommend that researchers funded by us publish their results for free global distribution. By supporting and working towards open science, both the research we conduct ourselves and the research we fund, will contribute to developing a more responsible, fair and equal academic discussion which enables participation on a national and global level.

Open science can be divided into four sub areas which include the entire research process, from collection and storage of data, to publication and distribution of results: open data, open access publishing, open learning, and open research community. DI:s work and activities aim at promoting all areas in close collaboration with, amongst others,  Åbo Akademi University, Åbo Akademi University Library, and the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies.

The Donner Institute is located in Humanisticum

You find us in the beautiful Humanisticum building at Biskopsgatan 13 in Turku. Our library is open to the public every weekday between 12.00 and 16.00.

The Donner Institute is part of Åbo Akademi University Foundation but maintains close ties of cooperation and collaboration with Åbo Akademi University, for example in the area of library activities, seminars and conferences, expert assignments, supervision and research. We are located in the middle of Åbo Akademi University’s most central campus area on Biskopsgatan.