Symposium Prejudices, hot topics, teaching about religions: European answers

International Symposium organized by IESR in Paris (France) with the support of the teams involved in the SORAPS European project,
co-funded by the Erasmus + Program of the European Union. The main topics will be prejudices about religions in schools, and teaching about religions in order to deal with hot topics in the classroom.

The symposium will be Friday 22 and Saturday 23 March 2019. Check the full programme and complete the registration on the following link:

Click on the picture to download the flyer.

Identity by Massimo Raveri

An interesting article by Professor Massimo Raveri, Cà Foscari University of Venice, about identity:

Every culture forms a complex, always dynamic, system, which lives on a deep tension between phases of opening and closure to other cultures.

On the one hand, there are phases of coherence, where symbolic and regulatory structures tend to agree with foundational choices and traditional values. On the other hand, there are phases of transformation and divergence from the views of the past.

On the one side, this is due to those endogenous factors – such as the generational turnover, the economic dynamics of redistribution of wealth, the mobility of the social power –  which generate new ideas and different values.

On the other side, there are exogenous factors – such as immigration, or colonial rule – that create a double social perception of both euphoria and confusion.

The latent danger is that hybridization mechanisms may be too risky, and innovative processes too fast, overcoming as a consequence the control strategies and the social conformism, and that the inconsistency of the cultural system masy go too far and collapse.

This is exactly what happened in traditional African societies when they fell under the colonial rule.

In this process, the need for an ideal of an “identity” that might reinstate the coherence of the cultural system becomes a fundamental need.

The identitary discourse is a symbolic, abstract and fictitious construction: it is a myth.

Nevertheless, it is thanks to this “illusion” that many fast-developing societies were able to “see” and find themselves, making sense of the events which disrupted the usual cultural landscape.

The past is re-read by way of  manipulating the memory and the oblivion.

Ideas and concepts, which are useful to the present we live in, are extrapolated and deprived of their historical dimension in order to reassemple them in a very semplified vision, coherent and atemporal (fictitious, but credible), as if this vision has always been the foundation of that culture, despite the vicissitudes and the changes in history.

Furthermore, the identitary discourse is very often based on a religious vision in order to exacerbate the power and the immutability of the identity, as if the identity of a people or of a nation were the product of a divine action and the heart of a strategy of the Absolute in the world.

And at the end of this process of symbolic elaboration, it is said that this is the only and true nature of “our” people.

That is not true: a society has multiple “identities” that are intertwined and that change over time.

But in a period of change, it is useful to believe in a mithological vision of one’s own country, a clear and unchangeable vision to hold on to – not with the aim to understand the past, but to make sense out of one’s own future.

The topic of the uniqueness is fundamental.

It creates a reassuring perception of strenght, of comprehensibility and coherence.

But the distinct, strong identity is a symptom of weakness and deep-rooted fear.

This dream of a “uniqueness”  is the price to pay, not a prize.

Asserting the uniqueness of one’s own “identity” generates big self-representation and estrangement problems. That is because the identity is based on process which distinguish, divide “us” from “them”, by way of collocating “us” on the pedestal of an absolute, eccentric and one reality.

That is a wrong self-perception, without that balance which comes from the generalisation and comparison processes with regard to values of “normalcy” which link all the men, beyond differences.

The construction of a perfect model of “who we really are” it is not the product of a memory of reconciliation. It is legitimized by a catharsis: the invention of an otherness that threatens because is “spurious”, “mixed”, “crossbred”. They are different from us, they are those people who are rejected, marginalized and then treated as outsiders and enemies.

Webinar: Who is watching us? Considerations for a networked world

Doğa Schools, as part of the WYRED project, organize on 7th February from 12:10 to 12:50 CET a webinar on the topic of “Who is watching us? Considerations for a networked world”.

The webinar is free of charge. You can join the webinar by clicking on the following link: with Access Code: 265-921-077.

The webinar aims to highlight privacy and security aspects connected to the internet and to social media, and to generate a conversation among participants on how to stay safe online whilst enjoying the benefits of a connected world. It is envisaged that the conversation will continue on the WYRED Platform on the community Our digital footprints – protecting ourselves, inside the forum Who is watching us and how are we watching.

If you are between 14 and 30 years old, and you want to join the conversation on the WYRED Platform, complete the form available on

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Interview by Felix Petzold about prejudices and stereotypes in religion

Here we have an interview by Felix Petzold, Chair of Didactics of History at University of Augsburg, about prejudices and stereotypes in religion:

Mr. Petzold, are religion-related stereotypes a contemporary problem?

No, religion-related stereotyping is far from a sole contemporary phenomenon. Stereotypes, as they appear today, have mostly grown historically. Humanity uses stereotyping throughout its existence in order to ‘navigate’ in a confusing and complex world. This process is thus a simplyfing strategy. But that’s not all. By stabilizing the results outwards and inwards on both an individual and collective level, stereotypes accomplish the formation and stabilization of identity through the construction of alterity. This describes one of their essential functions then and now.
They are (hi)story educators.

How do you approach stereotypes from your perspective as a specialis, including those related to religion for educational purposes and what may be gained?

Students should have a reflective and self-reflexive usage of stereotypes from a historical and didactic point of view. It also seems essential to understand them in their evolution. In this way of assimilation they become acquainted with the enduring functions and mechanisms of their use and effects. Especially the historical view, which essentially means to historicize them, to make their genesis clear, and to contextualize them, i.e. to analyze them in their becoming effective within historical events, gives learners deeper insights. They recognize that stereotypes are not ahistorical monoliths, but have grown historically, unfolding different efficiencies at different times. Sometimes they flatten to clichés, sometimes they solidify into detailed images. Becoming familiar with the central mechanisms of their use and effect, learners also gain awarness of the problems related with stereotypes; namely, how they became subject of instrumentalization and of abuse over time and space.

This substantial historical-didactical view was also shared in the results of our project: in the linking of religion-related stereotypes and prejudices (such as anti-Jewish stereotypes) or explained as an approach to teaching in one of the so-called units of online training series (Unit 8).

New version of the WYRED Manifesto

A new version of the WYRED Manifesto is available.

The WYRED Manifesto has been created based on consultations with young people in different face to face meetings and events, Delphi2 research and the WYRED

At least 300 young people from all over Europe, between 15-30 years of
age, took part in its creation and formulation. The manifesto will continue to be a
consultative document throughout WYRED project. This document is a collection
of young people’s thoughts.

Get the WYRED Manifesto:

The post New version of the WYRED Manifesto appeared first on netWorked Youth Research for Empowerment in the Digital society.

“Study of religions against prejudices & stereotypes”: Conferences on the SORAPS Project

In the school year 2018/2019, two meetings have been scheduled in order to introduce students and teachers to the SORAPS Project.

“Marco Foscarini” High School in Venice (Fondamenta Santa Caterina, Cannaregio 4942) hosts both the meetings open to all those who are willing to participate. The first meeting took place on 12 September and the second one will be implemented on 4 December.

The agenda remains unchanged for both the days in order to let those students and teachers who have an interest in it decide when participate.

The aim of these two sessions is not only to present the entire SORAPS Project and its first outcomes in order to involve other teachers both within and outside the School, but also to share the ideas, themes and arguments which lie at the heart of the project with those students who are not (yet) directly involved in it. It is also an occasion to raise interest in Multiplication Training Activities.

Massimo Raveri from Cà Foscari University and Vincenzo Pace from Padua University give their voices to the project, talking about how religions are a renewed presence in the current times, among new medias and violence.


10.00 Welcome speech (Massimo Zane, Dirigente Convitto Marco Foscarini)

10.10 Presentation of the SORAPS Project (Giovanni Lapis, Università “Cà Foscari” di Venezia; Elena Nonveiller, liceo “Marco Foscarini”)

10.30 Religions: a renewed presence in the global space? (Vincenzo Pace, “Padua University”)


Coffee break

11.50 Religions and culture among history and new media (Massimo Raveri, “Cà Foscari” University of Venice)


Upcoming Closing Teacher Training Event in Florence (Italy), December 2018

The second and last teacher-training event (C2) of the SORAPS Project will also act as a workshop. Supported by tutors and researchers the teachers will evaluate the knowledge and skills acquired so far and present their experience in implementing the in-class activities to the other project teachers. Moreover, in this training event the teachers are prepared for the ensuing multiplication-training phase by showing them how to organise it and by giving them the necessary skills on training other teachers.

When: 17 – 21 December 2018

Duration: 5 Days

Where: Florence (Italy)

What: The teachers will evaluate the course as a whole, evaluate the knowledge and skills acquired so far, and be qualified to train other teachers during the ensuing multiplication-training phase

Who do what: The Partner Schools will provide two teachers each.

SORAPS Project Presentation at Lycée René Cassin Arpajon (France) in May 2018

The Institut européen en sciences des religions (IESR) of the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE) hold an informative session on SORAPS at the secondary school René Cassin in Aprajon to an audience consisting of local teachers from three different schools and members of local educational authorities. The session was divided into a theoretical introduction by IESR in the morning and a subsequent practical exploration by the participants in the afternoon.

In the morning session, the participants get an overview on the SORAPS project, its goals, the online training platform in general and its UNITS in particular. Furthermore, links to the previous project IERS (Intercultural Education through Religious Studies) were made. In the afternoon session, the participants discover the online learning environment of SORAPS and IERS. Afterwards there was enough time for discussion. There, it became on the one hand clear that IERS and SORAPS met with great approval, on the other hand especially issued by the involved teachers how hard it is to implement this kind of projects in the French laical educational environment.

SORAPS Project Presentation at the Roma Tre University

The Ca’ Foscari University of Venice was officially invited by the Department of Humanities to speak about SORAPS during the workshop “Methods and Tools for the interpretation of religious facts” at the Roma Tre University on May 15th. In addition to the speech by Giovanni Lapis, the coordinator of SORAPS, other exciting speeches by experts, stakeholders and activists were awaiting the participants. All united the goal of implementing the academic view on religions in the classroom. The participants, graduated students, were not only obviously interested, but also took the opportunity to consolidate the networks in the field of religious education in Italian public schools.