Spring Seminar: Religious Literacy? Critical assessments and applications
From Wednesday, 3. April 2019
To Friday, 5. April 2019
About the course:
The concept of religious literacy has gained renewed interest following the enhanced visibility and contestation of religion in contemporary European societies. Grace Davie, professor emerita in sociology of religion, writes in her book Religion in Britain. A Persistent Paradox (2015: 65): “at precisely the moment when they are most needed British people are losing the vocabulary, tools and concepts that they require in order to have a constructive conversation about faith. The result all too often is an ill-informed and ill-mannered debate about issues of extreme importance to the democratic future of this country”.
Literacy as a concept originates from studies of literature and is commonly used in educational studies. The working definition of religious literacy (Dinham and Jones 2010: 6) stresses knowledge of religious faith, but also skills and readiness to acknowledge the legitimacy of religious faith in public discourse, and ability to develop an understanding of others’ religion. This highlights how religious literacy encompasses a descriptive aspect by referring to knowledge of religion, but also a normative aspect that concerns what religious literacy does: that is contributing to acceptance of the legitimacy of religion and understanding of others’ religious faith. This aspect of religious literacy is also salient in applications of the concept within state policy and health care professions.
This topical and multidimensional meaning of the concept make it fitting for further discussion within the interdisciplinary setting of the Religion – Values – Society phd school. The purpose of the seminar is to present different applications of religious literacy – in social work, policy, education, and health care– and to critically assess the usefulness of the concept for empirical research about religion and values in Scandinavian societies.