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Worldviews, Philosophy, Ethics, and Citizenship Education – Within RE or as Alternatives to RE? Cases, Concerns and Considerations

Panel Chair: Wanda Alberts | Tuesday, August 25, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Worldviews (religious and/or non-religious), non-religious philosophy and ethics, as well as citizenship education may be found as (more or less) integrated elements of a time tabled religion education (RE) in public schools. However, non-religious worldviews, as well as philosophy and ethics, and citizenship education may also be offered as alternatives to various kinds of confessional RE. In both cases the respective states and educational authorities use RE, and the named elements in RE or as alternatives to RE to further specific ideologocal/political agendas. This panel is dedicated to analyses of the situations in various countries as well as to study.of-religions based reflections on the pros et cons for integrating worldviews, philosophy and ethics as well as citizenship education in a time tabled RE based upon the academic study of religions.

Tim Jensen

Study-of-Religions based RE and Citizenship Education: The Perfect Match or a Mismatch?

Analyses of RE in Denmark, from the 1980s and onwards, demonstrate definite traces of an ideological and political agenda: RE is to transmit and consolidate (revive and inculcate) postulated (Christian) ideas and values and foster inter-cultural understanding and tolerance. An agenda that cannot be understood apart from a perceived threat to the 'good life and society' posed by Islam and immigrant Muslims. The same agenda surfaces, in Denmark and elsewhere, in introductions of 'citizenship education', next to, as an alternative to, or integrated into RE. Some of the risks of putting together RE and citizenship education will be discussed - with reference to international debates and as well as to analyses of a compulsory subject (KLM) in Danish teacher education. With reference to a recent (2013) revision of the same subject, some – at least from a study-of-religions point of view – maybe more promising possibilities will close the discussion.

Patrick Loobuyck

Religion, Ethics, Philosophy and Citizenship Education: A Habermasian Plea for an Integrative ECR (Ethics, Citizenship and Religious Culture) Course in the Belgian Curriculum

Belgium has a (semi-)confessional RE system and the students do not have an independent moral, citizenship nor philosophy course. As such philosophy, ethics, religious literacy, intercultural competencies and citizenship education are all the quasi exclusive responsibility of the RE courses – which are organized and controlled by religious institutions (and humanistic freethinkers). This paper takes a critical look at the Belgian situation – starting from a liberal and Habermasian post-secular perspective. From this philosophical perspective the Belgian situation has its strengths and weaknesses. However, the deficits are substantial and provide sufficient reason to think about a better way to guarantee RE, citizenship education, ethics and philosophy for all the students. The paper concludes that there are not only practical, but also substantial philosophical reasons to introduce an independent, non-denominational and compulsory course ECR (Ethics, Citizenship and Religious Culture & Philosophy) in the Belgian curriculum.

Tiina Mahlamäki

The Concept of World View in Teacher’s Education Program for Philosophy of Life (PoL) in Finland

The subject Philosophy of Life (Elämänkatsomustieto, Fi; Livsåskådningskunskap, Swe) is primarily aimed for those students that do not follow any religious denomination. The teacher education program for PoL consists of courses from the disciplines of Philosophy and Study of Religion/Anthropology. There are also some special courses on PoL itself. The concept of world view is central in both studying and teaching PoL. The national core curriculum states that studying PoL “encourages the young in creating their own worldview, controlling their life rationally and setting their own goals”. Also in teacher’s education program the concept is regarded important. In my paper, I discuss how the concept of world view is described in theoretical literature, in the national core curriculum and in the teacher’s education program. Data collected from an introductory course to PoL will also be presented where future teachers describe and reflect on their own world views.

Christina Wöstemeyer

Conceptualisations of Secular Worldviews in Religion-related Textbooks

Studying the dynamics, complexity, heterogeneity and structures within the field of religious and secular worldviews belongs to the remit of the study of religions. However, secular worldviews and different contexts of "nonreligiosity" are a quite young area of qualitative research of this discipline. This paper analyses representation and conceptualisation of the diversity of nonreligious worldviews in textbooks and curricula of Protestant, Catholic and Islamic confessional RE as well as in the non-confessional subject "values and norms" in public schools in Lower Saxony, Germany. The results of this empirical comparison of RE textbooks from a RS-perspective allow for conclusions concerning RS-based didactics in general. A particular focus will be the theoretical and methodological backgrounds of the analysis, including reflection on the concept of "nonreligion" (Johannes Quack) and the "didactics of the study of religions"- as well as on the model of subject materials and their framings used for analysing different types of RE (Katharina Frank).


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