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Religion and culture in Cologne over the centuries

Contact Person

dr. Justin Kroesen. j.e.a.kroesen


The Bachelor’s degree programme in Theology is a high-quality programme that focuses on the interplay between religion and culture. It is a small degree programme, in which students and lecturers are in close contact and there is a strong sense of community. The added value of Learning Communities for this type of degree programme lies mainly in the project-based teaching through which practical competences (collaboration, planning, organization and applying theoretical understanding to practical situations) are acquired – competences that are largely overlooked in regular teaching despite their relevance given the learning outcomes of the degree programme. Students themselves have also indicated that these competences should be given more attention (NSE 2014).

Although knowledge and skills (e.g. research skills) are applied in practical situations in various ways in the current curriculum, this is usually done in rather small-scale assignments, often completed individually. Extending the learning environment beyond the degree programme will further enhance students’ understanding of the way the dynamics between religion and culture is shaped in a society with strong Christian roots.

In 2015-2016 the Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society therefore aims to have its students prepare, conduct and evaluate a field study in a Learning Community supervised by two or more lecturers. This mode of instruction will also enable students to work together on a research project in a non-academic setting and thereby develop competences in the fields of research and collaboration that are not covered so thoroughly elsewhere in the programme.

The proposal is to have second-year students of Theology find and map aspects of the long cultural history of Cologne based on a five-day field study that they prepare and conduct themselves. The study will focus on the dynamics between religion and culture in Cologne over the centuries, as it manifests itself not only in art and architecture but also in the city’s collective memory. The city of Cologne offers unique insights into the religious and cultural past: from the Roman era (Roman-Germanic Museum), via the Medieval archdiocese (the many Romanesque churches, the Gothic Cologne Cathedral, the Schnütgen Museum and the Wallraf-Richatz Museum), down to the Second World War (with the ciry reduced to rubble in 1945) and modern religious and other art (Museum Ludwig and the Kolumba Museum for contemporary art). Based on literature research and fieldwork/research among the public in Cologne, students will work together on a series of cultural-historical studies of the city. The results will be brought together into a printed syllabus with an introduction.

This Learning Community will offer students a meaningful practical experience and thus be a valuable addition to the current curriculum. In addition, if this pilot project results in one or more Learning Communities becoming standard parts of the curriculum, this will enable the degree programme to clearly distinguish itself from other Bachelor’s degree programmes in Theology in the Netherlands, thereby solving one of the points of criticism listed in the State of the Art Report drawn up by the QANU committee for Theology and Religious Studies on the basis of the 2013 cluster visitation.

Last modified:24 July 2023 12.46 p.m.
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