Symbols from different religious faiths.

Religious Education in the spotlight

Religious education academics from the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA met at the University of Exeter to consider the relationship between religion, education and dialogue.

The annual Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education (AULRE) conference hosted by Dr Karen Aylward and Dr Rob Freathy focused on community cohesion, inter-faith dialogue, and the relationship between religion and spirituality.

Scholars addressed key questions of how people of different religions live and work together in a multi-faith society and how schools can best prepare children to encounter people from different religious and cultural backgrounds. They also discussed further issues of which model of religious education is most appropriate in today’s world to whether it is possible to hold onto one’s own beliefs whilst at the same time genuinely engaging with the belief of others.

Dr Karen Aylward, University of Exeter religious education subject and secretary of AULRE said, ‘Trying to work out the theory that underpins dialogue across religious differences is challenging as there is no one universal approach. There are so many ways in which we place ourselves in relation to people from different (religious) backgrounds to our own.’

The conference was opened by Annika Small, director of education for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation which has recently launched its ‘Face to Faith’ project. This global education programme helps schools prepare children to talk to each other about culture, beliefs, and the way they live by using video conferencing, online facilities and a course syllabus to support exchange between young people of different faiths. 

This is the first time that the annual AULRE conference has been held at the University of Exeter. Holding the conference reflects the expertise of religious and spiritual education groups within the University’s Graduate School of Education.

Date: 19 August 2009