Developments in religious studies: towards a dialogue with religious education

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Cush, D ; Robinson, C (2014)

The early days of non-confessional, multi-faith religious education in Britain benefitted from close collaboration between academics in universities, teacher educators and teachers. This article attempts to initiate a revival of such a dialogue, by summarizing some developments in religious studies at university level and suggesting possible implications for religious education in schools. After a brief retrospective of phenomenological and ethnographic approaches in religious studies and religious education, it examines feminist, queer and postcolonial theory as well as the changing religious landscape in contemporary Britain and the wider world. Themes emerging from this analysis prompt the following proposals: to take an anti-essentialist approach to ‘religion’ and ‘religions’; to stress diversity within and between traditions; to recognise complexity and change in religion and society; to acknowledge both local and global contexts; to focus on real people and seldom-heard voices; and to criticize dominant discourses, whether as patriarchal, heteronormative or colonialist.
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