Karim Schelkens

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Projects regarding Biography and religion, Religion in its (historical) relatedness to law and politics, the Second Vatican Council, or the history of the ecumenical movement are welcomed.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Karim Schelkens (°1977) is full time Professor in religious history and vice dean of research at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (Tilburg University). He is also Guest Professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (KULeuven).

In 2007, Schelkens obtained his PhD in Leuven, which was crowned with the C. de Clercq Award by the Royal Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. He has been a postdoctoral research fellow for the FWO-Flanders and earned a degree in postdoctoral studies at the Canadian Université Laval.

Schelkens has served as Secretary General to the European Society for Catholic Theology (2012-2018), was part of the Academic Council of UCSIA (Antwerp University, 2016-2020), and has served as a member in the NWO-Commission Open Competition Humanities and Social Sciences.

Schelkens has authored/editored some twenty academic books and numerous contributions regarding the contemporary history of religion in Late Modern Europe and on colonial history. Currently, he specializes in the field of Biography and Religion. In this regard, he published the acclaimed and widely received biographies of Godfried Danneels and Johannes Willebrands - which reached the 2022 longlist of the "Nederlandse Biografieprijs".

From 2018 to 2020, he was Director of the TST research program on 'The Transformation of Religion in Late Modernity', and from 2019 to 2021 Director of the International Master Program on 'Christianity and Society'.

Currently, he is active in various international research projects. Schelkens serves as a member of the academic board of the international research project on 'The History of the Desire for Christian Unity' (Istituto per le Scienze religiose, Bologna), and is one of the three principal investigators in a project with the Australian Catholic University and KU Leuven on Vatican II, and he is a member of the intercontinental project 'Vatican II. Legacy and Mandate'. Furthermore, Schelkens is part of the research team of the Occidentes project (led by the Gregorian University, Sacro Cuore University and University of Navarra). 

PhD supervision

Ongoing PhD Projects

Elizabeth Hastings, The Relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church in the International Bilateral Ecumenical Dialogues of the Anglican Communion, Tilburg University (co-director P. De Mey, KU Leuven).

Ben Ipenburg, Christendom en slavernij in het Nederlandse Atlantische koloniale rijk in de zeventiende en achttiende eeuw, Tilburg University, (co-director J. Dewulf).

Thom Van der Woude, Transisalanus. Een historisch-kritisch onderzoek naar leven en werken van Bartholomeus Doorenweerd, Tilburg University, ongoing (co-dir. J. van Gennip).

Succesfully defended PhD Projects

Istvan Csonta, Redaction History of the Conciliar Decree on the Lay Apostolate Apostolicam Actuositatem, KU Leuven, 2020. Fidentia Research Fellowship (co-dir. with Prof. Dr. M. Lamberigts).

Jos Moons, The Spirit and the Church. A Redaction-Historical and Theological-Historical Analysis of the Pneumatological Renewal in Lumen Gentium’, Tilburg University, 2018.(co-dir. with Prof. Dr. H. Witte).

Dries Bosschaert,  Joys and Hopes of Louvain Theologians. The Genesis of Christian Anthropologies and their diverse Reception in Gaudium et Spes, KU Leuven, 2017 (Co-dir. with Prof. Dr. M. Lamberigts).

Erik Sengers, Roomsch socioloog – sociale bisschop. Johannes Aengenent als ideoloog en bestuurder van de katholieke sociale beweging, 1873-1935, UvT, 2016 (co-dir. with Prof. Dr. P. Van Geest)

Cassien Mulindahabi, Les deux récents synodes pour l’Afrique. Étude comparative et critique, KU Leuven, 2015. (Co-dir. with Prof. Dr. J. Verstraeten).

Sandra Peréz Arenas, The Doctrine of the Elementa Ecclesialia Before, During and After Vatican II and Its Implications for the Relationship Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformed Communities, KU Leuven2013. Research Fellowship International Academic Exchange Between Chile and Belgium (Co-dir. with Prof. Dr. J. Haers).

Current courses

Click here for my courses.

External positions

Guest Professor (KU Leuven)

1 Jan 2018 → …

Member Academic Council (UCSIA)

1 Oct 2015 → …


  • History Of Christianity
  • Council/History Of The Council
  • Vatican Ii
  • Dialogue
  • Catholic Church In The 19th And 20th Century
  • Religious Leadership
  • Ecumenism, Ecumenical Theology
  • History Of Church And Theology


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