The Swedish Research Council funds research project on Religious Education


How does the changed role of religion in today’s society affect Religious Education in schools? And how do teachers handle the inherent tensions in the subject in school? These are the topics of a new research project at CRS. The researchers also hope to find improved methods for teachers to reach and motivate their pupils.

Teaching religion in a multicultural, pluralistic society is both challenging and demanding. Recent studies shows that Religious Education (RE) teachers often avoid sensitive issues concerning values and existential questions, and instead prefer to focus on facts, which in turn leads to pupils losing motivation and interest in the subject.

The new research projects aims to explore how teachers experience and handle the tensions of religious education. Researchers in the project are associate professor Anders Sjöborg at CRS and senior lecturer Malin Löfstedt, and one doctoral student. Anders Sjöborg has, in his earlier works, showed that the pupils’ weak interest can be understood by the changing role of religion in society. Religion was earlier a personal matter. Today it is rather discussed in the public sphere. Few students have personal experience of religion.

The research project is funded by Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council), which has granted seven million Swedish krona for the four year project. A group of 20 teachers of school years 7-9 (högstadielärare) and 20 upper secondary schoolteachers (gymnasielärare) will be included in the study.

The results of the study will add both to research on teacher professionalism and to the on-going discussion of the changing role of religion in contemporary Western societies, on the border between public and private.

The project is called “Teaching Religion in Late Modern Sweden: Professionalism on the borders between public and private”.


News from 2013