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Teaching about Religions in the Public Sphere: European Policy Initiatives and the Interpretive Approach

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This paper charts a policy shift within international and European inter-governmental institutions towards advocating the study of religions (or the study of religions and beliefs) in European publicly funded schools. The events of September 11, 2001 in the USA acted as a "wake up call" in relation to recognising the legitimacy and importance of the study of religions in public education. For example, policy recommendations from the Council of Europe and guiding principles for the study of religions and beliefs from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been developed and are under consideration by member or participating states of both bodies. In translating policy into practice, appropriate pedagogies need to be adopted or developed. The paper uses the example of the interpretive approach to indicate how issues of representation, interpretation and reflexivity might be addressed in studying religious diversity within contemporary societies in ways which both avoid stereotyping and engage students' interest.

Affiliations: 1: Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK


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