Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap
Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion

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Midyear Meeting 2020

Religious Education at Secondary School
The question of how to teach secondary school students about religion fits within a broader debate on the definition of religion and the role of religion in the public sphere. There are various perspectives on what to teach the next generation about religion. Some prefer a course on citizenship (burgerschap) which starts with the personal growth of the individual. Although religion can still play a role in the advancement of students’ opinions, the individual student and his or her development is the primary focus. In this discourse, religion is not an explicit topic in the school’s curriculum. Others prefer a comparative course addressing the different philosophies of life (religiewetenschappelijke vorming) in general. The core idea here is that different philosophies of life are compared as equals from an outsider’s perspective. A critical analysis of different philosophies of life is the central issue here. In this discourse, different philosophies of life are an explicit topic in the school’s curriculum. A third group prefers students to pick a course on a specific religion or philosophy of life (Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, humanism, non-confessional ethics). The central notion here is that one philosophy of life should be examined or discovered in-depth, after which dialogue with others can be established. For religious schools, this is the religion of the school. For public schools, students should be able to choose one course from a variety of philosophies of life. In this discourse, one philosophy of life is discovered in depth.

In the morning, several research seminars will have their (parallel) sessions. In the afternoon programme, we will explore the theme with a panel of three speakers will discuss the three positions outlined above. Dr. Gerard Drosterij (lecturer at Fontys University of Applied Sciences) will talk about citizenship. Dr. Markus Davidsen (University Lecturer at Leiden University) will discuss the religious studies approach. Dr. Hans Geybels (University Lecturer at KU Leuven and President of Logia) will address specific didactics in the context of secondary education. After this plenary session, participants will split into three groups to discuss one of the three positions more in-depth. Each group discussion will be held with one of the speakers from the panel, after which we will have a plenary discussion.

9:30 – 10:00 Registration, coffee, and tea
10:00 – 10:30 Welcome by Professor Frans Wijsen (Academic Director of NOSTER) (Elinor Ostrom building 01.220)
10:30 – 12:30 Parallel sessions of Research Seminars

Research Seminar Religious Studies (Elinor Ostrom building 01.130)
Research Seminar Empirical Research in Religion (Erasmus building 16.18)
Research Seminar Biblical Studies (Erasmus building 14.11)
Research Seminar Religion Theology and Gender (Elinor Ostrom building 01.220)
Research Seminar Dogmatics, Ethics and Philosphy of Religion (Erasmus building 3.24)

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch (de Refter)

13:30 – 14:30 Plenary panel (Erasmus building 15.39/41)
14:30 – 15:30 Group discussions
15:30 – 16:30 Plenary discussion and conclusion

Final qualifications:
The participant will have deepened his/her understanding and knowledge of the conceptual and methodological issues on the theme.
The participant will be able to reflect on various theoretical and methodological approaches to the theme.
Required reading: Attendees will read both a general set of texts as well as texts selected for the specific group discussion they attend. This will take approximately 10 hours of preparation. The texts will appear in the column on the right (when logged in to your account).

General texts:

  • Patrick Loobuyck & Leni Franken (2011). Towards integrative religious education in Belgium and Flanders: challenges and opportunities, British Journal of Religious Education, 33:1, 17-30, DOI: 10.1080/01416200.2011.523517
  • Gerdien Bertram-Troost & Taco Visser (2019). Dutch RE Teachers’ Voices in the Ongoing Debate on RE in Secondary Education; on Aims and Content of RE in The Netherlands, Religion & Education (19p.), DOI: 10.1080/15507394.2019.1626212

Parallel Session – Dr. Hans Geybels

  • Pollefeyt & Richards (2019). The living art of religious education. British Journal of Religious Education, DOI: 10.1080/01416200.2019.1593106

Parallel Session – Dr. Markus Davidsen
(one of the readings for this session is in Dutch, non-dutch participants only read the second text)

  • Davidsen, Markus Altena (2020 conceptversie, vertrouwelijk). ‘Religiewetenschappelijke vakdidactiek ,’ wordt gepubliceerd in Monique van Dijk-Groeneboer (red.), Vakdidactisch Handboek Godsdienst/Levensbeschouwing primo 2020.
  • Davidsen, Markus Altena (2010).  The Secular Future of Religious Education in Europe, Zeitschrift für junge Religionswissenschaft

Parallel Session – Dr. Gerard Drosterij

  • Position paper on the relation between religion and citizenship

Teaching methods: Panel debate and group discussion.
Place: Radboud University, Nijmegen (specific rooms to be confirmed).
Credits and workload: 0.5 EC / 14 hours.
Costs: Participation is free for ReMA students and PhD candidates registered at NOSTER or any other research school in the Humanities. The cost to other ReMA students and PhD candidates is €50. For more information about membership and costs, click here (for ReMA students) or here (for PhD candidates).
Registration: If you wish to participate in this event, you will need to register before 27 January. Once you have created a personal account on this website and have logged in, you can register for the event by clicking the green ‘Register for this item’ button on the right. Please note that if due to unforeseen circumstances you are unable to attend, please inform the NOSTER office as soon as possible and before 27 January at the latest. If you fail to notify the NOSTER office of a cancellation you will be charged €25. Registration includes lunch.

Indicate your first and second preference of group discussions:
• Discussion on the citizenship course – Dr Gerard Drosterij
• Discussion on the religious studies course – Dr Markus Davidsen
• Discussion on the specific philosophy of life course – Dr Hans Geybels

Please note that indicating a preference is no guarantee that you will be able to participate in that particular discussion group. The NOSTER office will allocate all participants equally over the three groups, as far as possible taking note of your preferences.


  • 07 Feb 2020 10:00 16:30