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What are worldviews and why should schools teach them?

What are worldviews and why should schools teach them?

Theos launches latest report ‘Worldviews in Religious Education’.

In celebration of the launch of Theos’s latest report, ‘Worldviews in Religious Education’, join Theos and Culham St Gabriel’s Trust on 21st October at 7.30pm for an evening of panel discussion and Q&A, as we consider the concept of “worldview” and how it can enhance religious literacy in the UK – with particular implications for how Religious Education is taught in schools. 

How RE is taught in schools is a central pillar of any society’s religious literacy, challenging false assumptions and expanding young minds to consider the role of religion and belief in a modern world. In 2018, the Commission on Religious Education launched new proposals for a paradigm shift in the subject, broadening the focus of RE in English schools to a consideration of “Religion and Worldviews”. However, while many RE professionals have embraced the proposed changes, including the focus on worldviews, the proposed shift generated considerable debate and has not yet been adopted by the government.   

Professor Trevor Cooling and Professor Bob Bowie (two of the report authors, along with Dr Farid Panjwani) will explain the argument of their new report for Theos. They argue that framing RE around the exploration of worldviews (including “organised”’ worldviews like Christianity and Humanism, and also “personal” worldviews, the beliefs and hidden assumptions which shape how each individual sees the world) is essential for revitalising the subject. They show how this can be done practically in the classroom, and respond to various criticisms that have been made of the paradigm shift.   

Respondents will then offer thoughts on the report, before opening up a discussion of how the concept of worldviews might impact upon our understanding of our religion or belief landscape more widely. 

This event will be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of RE, and about how we develop greater public understanding of our diverse and complex society.

Speakers include: 

Professor Trevor Cooling is Professor of Christian Education at Canterbury Christ Church University UK, and Chair of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC). Previously, Trevor worked as a secondary school teacher in biology and religious education, a university theology lecturer, a diocesan adviser and CEO of a Christian Education charity. Along with Bob Bowie and Farid Panjwani, he is the co–author of the report. 

Professor Bob Bowie is Director of the National Institute of Christian Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, and served as Chair of the Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education until 2018. He is an editor for the International Journal of Christianity and Education, and serves on the boards of several other journals including the British Journal of Religious Education, and the Journal of Beliefs and Values. Along with Trevor Cooling and Farid Panjwani, he is the co–author of the report. 

Dr Jagbir Jhutti–Johal is the Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on contemporary Sikhism, and she was a Commissioner on The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life (CORAB), convened in 2013 by The Woolf Institute. She is also a board member of the European Society for Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies (ESITIS), and a contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. 

Dr Lois Lee is Research Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Kent. She is a sociologist whose work focuses on the empirical study of nonreligion and atheism and, more widely, on the theory and study of culturally diverse and differentiated societies. Lois is founding director of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network and co–edits the journal Secularism and Nonreligion.

Register here. Information on how to access the Zoom event will be sent upon registration.

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Image: Juriah Mosin/


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