Project: Religion in Education. A contribution to Dialogue or a factor of Conflict in transforming societies of European Countries (REDCo)
In most European countries we have long assumed that increasing secularisation would lead to a gradual retreat of religion from public space. This tendency has reversed itself in the course of past decade as religion returned to public discourse. Regardless of the wide variety of conditions prevailing in different European countries it appears more and more important to study the increasingly influential factor of 'religion and religiosity' and its ambivalent potential for both dialogue and social conflict and tension.
Education is a vital field within which this question can be addressed: The degree to which religion serves (or could potentially be made to serve) as a criterion of exclusion or prejudice in schools and universities must be investigated as well as to what degree religious discourse and dialogue in education can promote potentials for the peaceful coexistence of people in Europe. This is especially important regarding people of different cultural and religious backgrounds for whom we need to map out educational strategies to learn from each other rather than perpetuate divisions. In terms of research, this area suffers from considerable lacunae. Work has been done in several countries to date, but no comparative European analysis exists as yet.
The Project's Aim and European Value
The project's main aim was to establish and compare the potentials and limitations of religion in the educational systems of selected European countries. Approaches and constellations that can contribute to making religion in education into a factor promoting dialogue in the context of European development were addressed through historical and current studies. Theoretical, conceptual and empirical analysis helped to lay the foundation for our understanding of the contribution religion in education can make towards the transformation processes at work in various European countries. It is precisely through the comparison between these different approaches that we gained the necessary historical depth perception and analytical clarity to address the current problems of, and perspectives on, the core questions of dialogue and conflict between European identities.
Solving Social Problems
The findings of this programme contribute to a better understanding of how questions of religion and religiosity for children, young people and students can be anchored in the educational process so as to promote an understanding of the values held in common and develop mutual respect. The main focus on the project was on ways to develop an understanding in the field of religion and value systems that can serve as an orientation for personal development, but remain open for the development of a collective "European identity" (which must, however, be understood as plural and dialogic rather than monolithic).
Choice of Countries
This pluralism was mirrored in the countries we had chosen to study. The wide religious and societal spectrum covered by these countries and the challenges of social transition they face can be briefly summarised as follows: Germany, with two established churches (Catholics and Protestants) and Norway with one (Lutheran) are moving towards religious pluralism. The Netherlands and England/Wales both have established churches (Anglican and Reformed, respectively), but can also look back on a long (though not unchallenged) tradition of religious pluralism. Traditionally majority-Catholic France has a laicist system facing a rising number of challenges through the increasing relevance of religion in public discourse. Spain as a predominant catholic country faces an increasing religious and interreligious opening with a public discourse on new approaches of Catholic RE and on an Islamic RE. Russia and Estonia both have strong religious traditions (Lutheran in Estonia, Orthodox in Russia) which have long been marginalised by Communism. In recent years, both societies have become increasingly open towards religious influences.
The consortium consisted of:
The EU supported the project with 1,188,000.00 Euro.
March 2006 - March 2009