Institutional Innovation and Tradition: Understanding Changes and Continuities in Religious Leadership, Communication, and Technology Ethics

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2024 | Viewed by 173

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ 85287, USA
Interests: communication technologies and culture; authority and community; religion; globalization

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Guest Editor
Institute of Protestant Theology and Religious Education, University of Wuerzburg, 97070 Würzburg, Germany
Interests: practical theology; media, culture and religion; religious education and didactics of religious education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rationale and background:

As developments in digital religion, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and new technological advancements continue to grow with potential effects on the landscape of religious collectives, there is a pressing need to explore the multifaceted implications of historical and contemporary changes to religious authority, organizational communication practices, and ethical frameworks. While committing to missional advancement, religious coalitions are responding to social and technological dynamics, including changes in church participation and conceptions of religious identity and ecclesiology. Moreover, virtual and A.I. applications raise questions for the potential of religious organizations to expand their visibility, engagement, and architecture, as well as enhance the instruction and experiences of faithful practitioners and seekers. Deepening the understanding of the practices and trends of religious institutional innovation and tradition will help contribute to individual and societal levels of adaptation and flourishing.

Scope and Objectives:

This Special Issue aims to bring together international and interdisciplinary scholarly contributions that examine broad intersections of religious organizations, polity, authority, and ethics. We invite original research papers, theoretical and theological perspectives, empirical studies, multi-method inquiries and diverse voices that address the following themes, among others:

  1. Changes and continuities in religious leadership and governance: Exploring the sense-making, roles, responsibilities, and risks faced by religious leaders and structures.
  2. Mediated communication and ministry: Analyzing the implications of digital platforms, social media, virtual worlds, A.I. and automation on the negotiation of authority, agency, or decision making within religious organizations and groups.
  3. Ethical implications of technological integration: Investigating religious beliefs, ethical dilemmas, theological concerns, and value commitments related to the adoption and operability of technology in religious contexts.
  4. Culture, power dynamics and inclusivity: Examining how social and technological changes facilitate organizational operations and intelligence/s, related to processes of inclusion and exclusion as well as human and societal flourishing.
  5. Engagement and community building: Assessing technology applications in fostering the rise of, decline and/or inconsistencies in community, participation, and belonging among diverse religious denominations.
  6. Economics, marketplace investments and competition: Evaluating religious groups’ fundraising, accounting practices, management of finances, secular partnerships and contracts with technology and third-party companies.
  7. Religious education, knowledge sharing, and digital literacy: Exploring changes and continuities in religious instruction, and integration of technology into religious or affiliated education programs, curricula, and pedagogical practices.
  8. International communication and global engagement: Presenting diverse, multi-scalar studies that explore the management of technological changes within and/or between religious networks and institutions.

Submission Guidelines:

Manuscripts should be original, unpublished works and adhere to the journal’s submission guidelines.

Submissions will undergo a double-blind peer-review process to ensure scholarly rigor and relevance to the Special Issue theme.

Please indicate in your submission that your manuscript is intended for the special issue on “Institutional Innovation and Tradition: Understanding Changes and Continuities in Religious Leadership, Communication, and Technology Ethics”.

Authors may send their initial abstract submission (500 words) by July 15th, to receive feedback by July 30th, 2024.

Deadline for manuscript submission: October 31st, 2024

Notification of acceptance/rejection: November 31st, 2024

Expected publication date: One to three weeks after manuscript acceptance.

Please submit your abstracts and inquiries to Guest Editors Prof. Dr. Pauline Cheong <[email protected]> and Prof. Dr. Ilona Nord <[email protected]>, and copy the Assistant Editor, Ms. Joyce Xi <[email protected]>.

We welcome contributions from scholars, researchers, and practitioners across various disciplines who are interested in advancing our understanding of the complex interplay between technology, religious organizations, leadership, authority, and ethics.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and engaging in fruitful dialogue on this stimulating topic.

Prof. Dr. Pauline Cheong
Prof. Dr. Ilona Nord
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • religious organizations
  • innovation
  • leadership
  • communication
  • ethics
  • artificial intelligence
  • technology
  • agency
  • authority
  • community

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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