Halyna Tesliuk, Associate Professor of the Department of Biblical Studies of the UCU Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, has become vice-president of the European Society of Women in Theological Research for 2021-2031. Halyna Tesliuk and other members of the board were elected at the general session of the society in Innsbruck, Austria, which was held both online and offline.
The European Society of Women in Theological Research (ESWTR) is a network of women engaged in academic research in the field of theology and religious studies. The society holds international conferences every other year to discuss relevant themes through the prism of feminist theology. The society now has 598 members from all over the world, including 5 from Lviv and the Ukrainian Catholic University.
Halyna Tesliuk first learned about the European Society of Women in Theological Research in 2014 from a guest professor of UCU, Heleen Zorgdrager. At that time it was proposed that, together with Orysya Bila, professor at UCU’s Philosophy Department, she create a Ukrainian section.
“At first a Ukrainian-Russian section was created, but eventually each went their own way. In 2015, I took part in an international conference of the European Society of Women in Theological Research which was held on the island of Crete (Greece). There I became acquainted with other participants of the society and learned more about their activities. In 2018, we organized a regional conference in Lviv. At that time some 70 participants came from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and even Southern Sudan. For me it was important for them to see how women in Ukraine operate in a religious context. The members of the society saw that we are a university which is active and has its own thoughts and academic culture. This was a discovery for our guests, since, to that time, they knew little or nothing about what’s happening with us in the religious sphere in particular, and in the sociopolitical sphere in general,” explains Halyna Tesliuk.
After active participation in conferences which the society holds each year, they suggested Halyna Tesliuk conduct an international conference in 2023 in Lviv. The Ukrainian section suggested the theme: “Women, transhumanism, religious identity.”
“Consulting with local members, I agreed to this proposition. And recently I travelled to Innsbruck for a session of the Board of the European Society of Women in Theological Research, where we passed the decision about work for the next two years. They asked me in advance if I was ready to join in the work of the board, so on the way I was preparing to be a candidate for the position of vice-president of the European Society of Women in Theological Research. I did not know about my election until the last moment, since the decision was made through discussion and an announcement during the general meeting.” Halyna Tesliuk said.
Among the responsibilities of the newly-appointed vice-president: helping manage the society, communication about future events, representing official positions of women theologians, and also conducting the international conference in Lviv, which requires fundraising and a search for speakers to report on the theme.
At the conference, members will discuss the phenomenon of transhumanism, which has become a problem in Western Europe and countries with high economic development and is gradually entering Ukraine. The question is the use of modern technologies to improve the person’s physical life.
“Supporters of this movement believe that, with the help of scientific and technological progress, it will be possible to achieve immortality; that, with the help of technical means or interference in a person’s genetics, it will be possible to perfect human nature. Transhumanism leads to a number of ethical questions, in particular regarding religious identity. And so we should be educated and understand what trends are coming and how we can respond to these challenges.” So said UCU professor Halyna Tesliuk, vice-president of the European Society of Women in Theological Research.
Halyna Tesliuk has a candidate’s degree in theology. She is an assistant professor in Biblical Studies at the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, head of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America Center for Women’s Studies at UCU, vice-president of the European Society of Women in Theological Research, a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkley and the Consortium of Higher Theological Studies, USA. She has experience teaching at universities in the USA, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands.
She teaches a number of Old Testament courses and also interdisciplinary ones: the Bible and integrity, Biblical women, their stories and reception in culture. She is the author of numerous publications in biblical studies.
Author: Diana Motruk
Photo: from the Facebook page of the European Society of Women in Theological Research