According to the will of the donors Uno and Olly Donner the purpose of the institute is to advance the research on the history of religion and culture “on strictly scientific grounds”, primarily with a focus on mysticism and esotericism, but also by considering contemporary phenomena within the fields of religion, philosophy, science, art and literature. The Donner Institute strives to honour the wishes of the donors by following these guidelines while simultaneously attuning the research strategies to contemporary research questions and focus areas within the vast academic field of religion. 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.

Academic support and co-operation

At the Donner Institute we both conduct research ourselves and support research within our field. The research is carried out in close co-operation with the departments of comparative religion at Åbo Akademi University and the University of Turku as well as the Finnish Society for the Study of Religion (SUS). Our own research is conducted primarily by the director of the institute and by the doctoral students that are either employed by or have received research scholarships from the Donner Institute. A number of researchers, and postdoctoral and doctoral students from different disciplines, also have research desks in our library, which expands and enriches the academic working environment at the institute.

Our research efforts include e.g. the following recurring activities:

The Donner Institute regularly acts as a conference and symposium organiser, often in co-operation with other research groups, departments and institutions included in our vast network in Finland and abroad. When possible, the Donner Institute also grants practical and economic support for seminars, conferences and networks arranged in other locations, as well as to study trips with relevant scholarly goals.