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REDCO — Result In Brief

Project ID: 28384
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS
Country: Germany

Can religious education help us embrace diversity?

An EU-funded initiative examined how religious education, in schools across Europe, could be used to promote dialogue and mutual respect for a changing cultural landscape.
Can religious education help us embrace diversity?
The 'Religion in education. A contribution to dialogue or a factor of conflict in transforming societies of European countries' (REDCO) project was established to study the potential and limitations of religion in education. REDCO aimed to use this research base to determine how such a setting can contribute to promoting dialogue in the context of European development and identity formation. Project partners analysed conceptual and practical approaches to arrive at a mutual understanding in the field of religious education that could be used to foster acceptance of others and strengthen mutual respect across religious, cultural and political differences

Social sciences and humanities researchers collaborated in a thematic and methodological approach, considering actions that could be taken at national and European levels. By addressing key aspects of dialogue and conflict in Europe, such an approach can help ease the transformation processes that various European countries are undergoing. The national context is important for implementing policies. As such, REDCO support of existing policy recommendations was accompanied by a suggestion to consider a degree of differentiation regarding the national application of policies in the educational system.

Researchers conducted detailed analyses of, among other aspects, the historical background of religious education in the participating countries, national legal and institutional frameworks for religion in education, and the potential for conflict or opportunities for dialogue. They also focused on the possibility of developing a perspective regarding the development of European identities.

Results of REDCO empirical work led to the production of 11 reports including analyses of a questionnaire answered by pupils from all participant countries. Fieldwork in schools and communities involved the discussion of topics and approaches, the details of which were reported on at two plenary meetings.

Seminars were held to address theoretical issues that could inform the interpretive approach adopted as a common theoretical framework. This approach offered a theoretical 'stimulus' rather than an all-encompassing framework for the project as a whole.Key concepts were considered, as were those of 'neighbour religions'. The latter afforded a focus on local religious diversity and neighbourhood interaction. The REDCO team also maintained attention to the relationship between different forms of religious education and education for democratic citizenship. This was deemed central to the question of plural identities of young people.

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