Religious education to contribute to integration

Researchers of religion from SDU are taking part in a European project to develop digital textbook material on religion. The goal is to promote intercultural understanding, communication and tolerance through teaching in upper secondary schools.

Religion is a compulsory subject in Danish upper secondary schools, but in countries like Germany, France, Spain and Italy, things are quite different. There the subject is hardly taught in schools, and if it is, it is as part of another subject, such as history, ethics or philosophy.

For this reason, a new EU-funded project has been set up – Intercultural Education through Religious Studies – to which religious scholars from SDU will contribute through their long-standing experience of applied research in religious education.

“We are very advanced in this area at SDU,” says Tim Jensen, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at SDU. “This is partly because Danish upper secondary schools have stressed that it is an important part of the students’ general education to acquire sound knowledge of religions and to adopt an analytical approach to religion. It is important to have this dimension and not to listen uncritically, for example, to religious and political statements about religion.”

One aim of the two-year project is to promote intercultural understanding and communication. The project is a collaborative venture with researchers from The Ca’ Foscary University of Venice, the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Universidad de Salamanca, the University of Augsburg and Oxfam Italia Intercultura.

SDU to map out and analyse religious education

In cooperation with Nyborg Upper Secondary School and the participating universities, Associate Professor Tim Jensen and PhD student Karna Kjeldsen will help develop specific teaching resources that can be used for religious education in a number of European countries or as supplements to the subjects that include religion.

The main task of the SDU researchers is to lay the foundation for the work of others by mapping out and critically analysing existing religious education in the participating countries.

Other initiatives are also working to promote a scholarly approach to religious education, and Tim Jensen is a driving force in several of these, including a working group of the European Association for the Study of Religions. This is part of the International Association for the History of Religions, of which Tim Jensen is Secretary General.

The SDU researchers already have extensive experience of developing training materials. Among other things, they have contributed to a major new textbook on religion for Danish upper secondary schools.

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