EUROPE - Studying religions to promote peace

Migration and religious diversity pose new challenges to teachers in schools in Europe. In the classroom, the integration is undermined by negative stereotypes and preconceptions. Five European universities and NGOs meet the challenge. They accomplish a digital 'toolbox' to put at the disposal of the professors of higher education institutions across Europe. The project called "Intercultural education through religious studies" (IERS) has been funded with € 400 thousand from the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union.


The leader is the University Ca 'Foscari Venice, that has a long tradition of research and teaching on the history of religions in the department of Studies on Africa and the Mediterranean. The partners are the Institut Européen en Sciences des Religions (France), the University of Salamanca (Spain), the University of Augsburg (Germany), University of Southern Denmark (Denmark) and the Italian Intercultural organization Oxfam.


The result will be a teaching tool organized in 27 multi-language, media-rich modules, to make young people aware of the history of religious traditions and help teachers deal with also 'hot' and controversial classroom issues. The material will be completed in the field, thanks to the collaboration of professors who teach daily in high schools. In Italy, for example, teachers will participate in institutions at Foscarini Tommaseo Venice and Treviso Canova high school.


"The best scholars of education and history of religions are joining skills and energy to deal with the problem at a European scale - says Massimo Raveri, Professor of History of Philosophy and Religions of Japan at Ca 'Foscari -. We need new tools to improve sensibility and cohesion in an environment, that of school classes, where the growing diversity is not accompanied by the necessary knowledge between cultures. The European Union supports this project because it recognizes that trivial serious social problems may arise from ignorance. "