The Centre for Religion and Heritage at the University of Groningen is bringing its scientific expertise to the REBELAH project, a two year strategic partnership with six adult education organizations in four European countries. Its objectives are to promote new ways of using European cultural heritage in adult education to foster inclusion, diversity and non-discrimination and promote interreligious co-existence. Competences of adult trainers will be extended and developed to foster inclusion through their teaching practice, particularly in multicultural learner contexts. Through a series of workshops, the group will pilot methods that will be consolidated in training manuals for use across Europe. The REBELAH project (an abbreviation of Religion, Beliefs and Laicity in cultural Heritage) is funded by Erasmus+, the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe.
Research by the European Union has shown a high degree of intolerance toward cultural and religious difference among adult trainers. The Special Eurobarometer 493, 2018: Discrimination in the EU found that in sample groups one fifth of Spanish and French adult trainers, one fifteenth of Dutch and one half of Hungarian adult trainers felt uncomfortable by the idea of working with a Muslim or a Roma peer. Exclusionary narratives are entering the learning environments, negatively affecting religious and ethnic minority learners. In such a context, cultural heritage is an essential tool for both trainers and learners to recover Europe’s plural past in favour of inclusive and safe learning spaces, so the REBELAH project states. REBELAH is targeted at both adult trainers and learners, activists, community leaders, local minorities, policy makers, heritage organisations and adult trainer organisations.
The 6 adult educators from around Europe that collaborate in this project are the University of Groningen, Storytelling Centre (Netherlands), Elan Interculturel (France), Kepes (Hungary), Ibn Battuta Foundation (Spain) as well as the Barcelona-based La Xixa Teatre as project coordinator. The application of the University of Groningen as a partner in this Erasmus+ project on inclusion and heritage was a co-production of Dr. Andrew Irving, Dr. Mathilde van Dijk and Prof. Dr. Todd Weir of the Centre for Religion and Heritage (CRH) in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. During the project workshops and conferences will be held, and relevant tools for educators and community leaders will be created.
Todd Weir, Professor of History of Christianity and Modern Culture at the UG’s Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies and director of the Faculty’s Centre for Religion and Heritage, said ‘The Rebelah Project is a great opportunity for the Centre for Religion and Heritage, as it allows us to bring our academic expertise in heritage to bear on educational efforts that reach segments of European society not usually served by universities. As we have seen in the very first workshops, religious heritage is a wonderful field for starting discussions about cultural difference and inclusion, which are sorely needed in Europe today. Working with these creative organizations in Spain, Hungary and France is tremendously rewarding and has already given us experience with new modes of teaching that we can bring to our future work.’
For more information, visit the REBELAH project’s website at https://www.rebelah.eu
Prof. Mladen Popović will continue in his position as Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies for another four years.
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