Jean-François Mayer was born in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1957. He received both his master's degree (1979) and his doctorate in history (1984) from the University of Lyon. In 1985-1986, he worked with Swiss Radio International. From 1987 to 1990, he was in charge of a research project attached to a programme on "Cultural Pluralism and National Identity" of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Between 1991 to 1998, Jean-François Mayer worked as an analyst in strategic and international affairs for the Swiss Federal Government, also serving as the secretary of the government's Situation Conference.
Jean-François Mayer returned to the field of academic research in the late 1990s. He taught at the University of Fribourg as a lecturer in religious studies from 1999 to 2007. He is frequently invited to lecture at foreign universities.
In 2007, Jean-François Mayer founded the Religioscope Institute. He is the founder and chief editor of Religioscope, an independent, bilingual website offering news and analyses on the role and place of religion in our world. He is associate editor of Religion Watch, a New York based newsletter monitoring trends in contemporary religion, which used to be published by Religioscope Institute from January 2008 until June 2013.
In addition, Jean-François Mayer worked from 2006 to 2010 as a scientific advisor to a new project, "Religion and Politics", currently hosted by the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva).
Jean-François Mayer also provides services as a consultant. His firm, JFM Recherches et Analyses, was founded in August 1999.
He is the author of over ten books (in six languages) and numerous articles, primarily dealing with religious developments in the contemporary world. A full list of his publicationscan be found on the website: http://mayer.info/bio/bio/english.html