The Challenges of Multi-Religious Society for Public School




1.4.2018 - 31.3.2020


prof.dr. Aleš Črnič

Research activity:

Social sciences

The phases of the project and their realization:

The project will be undertaken according to the following plan. 1. FIRST SIX-MONTH PERIOD: March 2018 – August 2018 - Survey and analysis of literature and secondary sources pertaining to the research topic. - Collation and analysis of key international documents pertaining to the research topic. - Detailed appraisal of Slovenian circumstances. - Establishing contacts with prospective international sources of expert information. - Formation of an analytical framework for the selection of countries to serve as case studies. - Organisation and execution of a conference panel at the ISORECEA/IAHR conference. RESULTS: Comparative overview and synthesis of previous research, in-depth familiarisation with multi-dimensional contexts of the research topic, elaboration of the research design. 2. SECOND SIX-MONTH PERIOD: September 2018 – February 2019 - Collation and analysis of information about (national and international) legislation and relevant judicial practice. - Collation and critical analysis of international initiatives and recommendations regarding religious content in curricula of public schools. - Design and initial execution of case studies of select countries. - Detailed multi-contextual analysis of specific elements of the Slovenian situation. - Establishment and maintenance of international contacts with relevant expertise. RESULTS: The first report on the project’s progress – detailed identification of key factors involved in the research topic, schematic representation and comparative interpretations of conceptual and legislative frameworks concerning the research topic. 3. THIRD SIX-MONTH PERIOD: March 2019 – August 2019 - Execution of case studies of select countries. - Conceptualisation of guidelines for the comparative analysis of select case studies. - Detailed multi-contextual analysis of specific elements of Slovenian circumstances. - Preparation of articles for a special issue of the CEPS Journal. - Maintenance of contacts with international experts on the research topic. RESULTS: Drafting of two typologies – (1) different models of religious education/education about religion, and (2) attitudes of different educational systems towards the presence of religious symbols in educational spaces. 4. FOURTH SIX-MONTH PERIOD: September 2019 – February 2020 - Comparative analysis of conducted case studies. - Contextual and critical evaluation of the subject ‘Faiths and Ethics’. - Organisation and execution of a workshop/symposium as part of the Religious Studies Section of the Slovenian Sociology Association. - Preparation of a monograph. RESULTS: Final report – typology of different models of religious education/education about religion and typology of attitudes of different educational systems towards the presence of religious symbols in educational spaces; locating the Slovenian context within the two typologies; analysis of the content, formal parameters, and realisation of the subject ‘Faiths and Ethics’ with recommendations for modifications and measures needed to revitalise the subject; evidence-based recommendations for comprehensive formal regulation of concerns relating to religious content and religious symbols in public schools; a special issues in the CEPS Journal.

Research Organisation:


Citations for bibliographic records:


The context of modern globalisation, which is periodically additionally heightened by various political, economic, and ecological crises, makes Western societies increasingly susceptible to influxes of heterogeneous groups of immigrants, whose culture and religion are often markedly different from that of the majority of the local population. This contrast is giving rise to complex and demanding social challenges, which manifest themselves in the field of public education as well – in an increasingly pluralised environment, certain old questions are being amplified, while new dilemmas are also being introduced. The proposed research project will analytically address this problem in three stages. First, we will examine the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the complex questions pertaining to the relationship between religion and public education with an added emphasis on the growing pluralisation of European societies. By theoretically applying fundamental principles and concepts (human rights, tolerance, multiculturalism) to the chosen research question, we will examine the development and difficulties relating to the concept of secularity and neutrality in schools. We will systematically gather and examine the terms of key international documents conventions, declarations, etc.) that are relevant to the research question. After a preliminary conceptualisation of the problem, the second stage of the project will encompass an analytical examination of the complex influences of the growing pluralisation on the question of religious content in the public schools’ curriculum. European countries are responding to new challenges in different ways. We will perform case studies of existing contexts in chosen countries (based on conceptual and theoretical foundations and international recommendations) and then perform a comparative analysis of the various models of education about religions in public schools implemented in practice. Both elements of this stage will include an analysis of (national and international) legislation and relevant judicial practice. After the comparative international analysis we will contextualise and critically evaluate the mandatory elective subject in the last triad of Slovenian primary schools, i.e., Religions and Ethics. Analytical reflection on the subject’s formal parameters and its existing position (as well as an anticipation of its causes) should provide a sound foundation on which possible changes to the conceptualisation of the subject and other measures for its practical revitalisation can be developed. In the third stage, we will examine the complex problem of religious symbols in the spaces of contemporary public education, which are coming to the fore with the growing pluralisation. With the advent of modern secularity and the increased pluralisation of the 21 century, the marking of school spaces with Christian symbols is not longer a forgone conclusion. Simultaneously, pupils(and to a lesser extent teachers) are increasingly frequently entering educational spaces with visible symbols of their minority religious affiliation (e.g., Muslim girls and women wearing veils), which challenges the (until recently) prevailing image of a monolithic society, as well as problematizes the principle of equality (regardless of cultural differences) ensured by modern democratic societies. We will conduct case studies of select countries and perform a comparative analysis of specific empirical situations in individual countries in line with the conceptual foundations defined in the first stage, national and international legislation, and relevant judicial practice. Finally, we will attempt to construct a typology of different models of educational systems’ attitudes toward the presence of religious symbols in educational spaces and apply it to the Slovenian context. The principal aim of the proposed conceptual and practical comparative analyses is a formation of an academically substantiated framework, which would aid the systematic regulation of identified problems faced by the Slovenian school system in an ever increasingly plural society.

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