The Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies encourages and facilitates research on all aspects of the Cistercian tradition and in the broader field of religious traditions. The Center sponsors sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies and collaborates with the University Libraries on digitization projects. Through the Center, the Medieval Institute offers a Graduate Certificate in the History of Monastic Movements, which is open to students enrolled in a graduate degree program at Western Michigan University. The center's advisory board meets annually at the International Congress on Medieval Studies.
The Center is currently developing two digital projects:
- The Monastic Gazetteer Project is creating a Linked Open Data set describing religious foundations in the West from the Middle Ages to the present. The project is exploring ways to use this technology to accurately represent monasteries and changes to their identities, networks, and locations over time.
- The Janauschek Portal is a collaboration with the Transkribus Project at the University of Innsbruck, the Verein zur Gründung und Förderung der "Europäischen Akademie für Cistercienserforschung" im ehemaligen Kloster Lehnin and the compilers of Cistopedia: Encyclopedia Cisterciensis. The portal will provide access to unpublished manuscripts by Leopold Janauschek (1827–1898).
The center is sponsoring seven sessions on a variety of topics pertaining to the medieval history of the Cistercian order at the 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 13-15, 2021):
- Aelred and After: In Honor of Marsha Dutton
- Cistercians and Pestilence
- The Cistercians in Scandinavia
- Responding to Bernard McGinn's The Great Cistercian Mystics: A History (A Panel Discussion) [co-sponsored with Cistercian Publications, Liturgical Press]
- The Song of Songs: The Heart of Cistercian Spirituality [co-sponsored with Cistercian Publications, Liturgical Press]
- Studies on Isaac of Stella [co-sponsored with Sources Chrétiennes]
- Theories on Monasticism in the Twelfth Century
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