- What is this site about?
This site is meant as a central point to collect, categorize, and offer useful information in the area of teaching about religions and beliefs to policy-makers, educators, and researchers. It will be successful in this regard if it receives the cooperation of all stakeholders in this area, including religious leaders, educators, researchers, policy-makers, and other interested individuals and organizations. More information about this site is available in the Overview section of this site.
- When was this site created?
There was a broad demand for this site at a working session at the Istanbul Forum in January 2008, and work on this site began in March 2008. In the 2008-2009 year, we began a preliminary assessment of resources and partners and then proceeded to begin collecting and categorizing resources and signed Memoranda of understanding with higher education Partners.
- Why is this site here?
The Alliance of Civilizations HLG Report , submitted to the UN Secretary-General in November 2006, underscored the importance of education in “preparing young people for an interdependent world” and called for education systems to “provide students with an understanding and respect for the diverse religious beliefs, practices and cultures in the world.”
Several guidelines drawn up by intergovernmental organizations, as well as world leaders, have spoken of the need for intercultural education and the necessity to learn about and across differences. References in this regard include the UNESCO Guidelines on Intercultural Education, Civil Paths to Peace: Report of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding (2007)and the COE White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue “Living Together as Equals” (2008). Specific references to education about religions include, for instance,
A COE Publication: John Keast, Editor: Religious Diversity and intercultural Education: a Reference Book for Schools. 2007.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE ODIHR) publication, Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching about Religions and Beliefs . (2007).
Further, participants at the AoC January 2008 Madrid Forum expressed the strong desire that the next AoC clearinghouse should be a clearinghouse on “Education about Religion and Beliefs” (ERB). Education about different religions and beliefs, and critically thinking about the nature of beliefs, enables populations to deal sensitively and tolerantly with the reality of a modern multicultural world where one will encounter people who believe in many different religions, or people who may not believe in any religion at all. Intrinsic to the goal of educating students about religions and beliefs are the instruments of civic and peace education, tolerance and ethics education, as well as global and cross-cultural education. These mechanisms also offer a different way of advancing the ultimate pillar of education to “live together,” especially in the context of some societies where teaching about religions themselves may raise issues of “church-and-state separation.”
- What is the focus of this site?
At this stage, our clearinghouse will focus primarily on school education for the following reasons:
a) It is the stage that is the most important in forming educated opinions;
b) It is the stage where public policy can have the most influence, because in many states public funding of education offers the opportunity to have concomitant curricular influence; and
c) It is probably the area where resources are available but scattered across different regions and therefore the AoC mechanism can be particularly useful.
- Who is the audience of this site?
This website is geared to the interested public, but with a special emphasis on:
· Policy-makers in the area of education about religions and beliefs who are considering adopting guidelines and curricula at various governance levels, or want to contribute such guidelines and curricula;
· Teachers who are looking for interesting teaching tools and materials to teach about religions and beliefs in their classrooms, or would like to contribute their own material to a global audience;
· Researchers who are interested in this subject or want to contribute their assessments of education about religions and beliefs;
· Non-governmental organizations (faith-based and non faith-based) who are interested in influencing policy or contributing their own efforts to a global audience;
· Other individuals who are interested in contributing to civil discourse on the issues involved in teaching about religions and beliefs.
- What are the contents of this site?
This web-based clearinghouse will feature approaches, consensus guidelines , intellectual and instructional resources, links to associations/organizations and institutions working in the field of ERB, an ERB journal, and events of interest to researchers, policy-makers and educators working in this area.
- Can I download some/all of the material on this site?
Yes, you can download material that is available in the public domain, but not implicit or explicit copyrighted material without permission from copyright owners.
- What “religions” and “beliefs” does the site cover?
We follow the Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching about Religions and Beliefs (2007) on this point, which takes a broad view of “religion” and “belief,” encompassing not only “traditional and long-established religions” of today’s world as well as “less well known and less well understood systems of belief.” It also includes “non-religious systems of belief,” based on earlier United Nations Human Rights documents (pp. 30-31). This enables us to permit the inclusion of all “religions” and “beliefs” on this site, as well as the instruments of education that aim at humanity living together in peace, such as ethics education, civic education and so on.
- What key theories of ERB can be found on this site?
Three pedagogical approaches to teaching about religions and beliefs are summarized in the Toledo Guidelines, pp. 46-48.
- Which institutions/organizations offer funding/fellowships for research and/or teaching in ERB, or offer workshops in ERB?
See listings in the Organizations section.
- What are the associations/organizations of people interested in ERB?
Among the organizations interested in education about religions and beliefs are scholarly associations of educators and researchers, higher education and research institutions with specialized teaching/research interests in education about religions and beliefs, and non-governmental organizations (both faith-based and secular organizations) who are interested in education about religions and beliefs.
- Where and when are conferences (or related conferences) on ERB, held?
- Where can I find news and scholarly articles on ERB?
- Who are the Partner organizations working with ERB on this site?
Partner organizations from all over the world work with ERB on this site and we are constantly seeking additional partners, especially from regions outside North America and Europe. Please send a message to Contact ERB Clearinghouse if you are interested in becoming a partner. See the Partners page for a list of current partners.
- What’s the news relevant to Education about Religions and Beliefs?
Please see the News section for latest news relevant to education about religions and beliefs.
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