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European Network Develops New Concepts for Religious Education

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Portrait of Junior Professor Alexander Unser © Aliona Kardash​/​TU Dort­mund
Alexander Unser is junior professor for religious education at TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity.

Populist movements and a loss of acceptance in parts of the population are threatening liberal democracies in Europe. That is why one of the main challenges of the education system is to foster the development of a democratic understanding of values and to strengthen social cohesion. Here, religious education must also make a significant contribution because for many people in Europe religion shapes their individual moral concepts. Alexander Unser, junior professor for religious education at TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity, is in the process of building up an EU-wide inter­dis­ci­plin­ary network on “Religion and Citizenship” in order to analyze the challenges at the interface between religious and civic education and to develop new solutions. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding his proj­ect with around € 210,000 within the funding line “Strengthening European Collaboration in Education Research”.

Religious traditions often have an ambivalent relationship to democratic values. “On the one hand, religions contain notions of justice and the common good of all,” explains Alexander Unser, junior professor, researcher and lecturer at the Department of Humanities and Theology. “On the other hand, there are traditions and doctrines that are in tension with democratic values, such as equal rights for women or homosexuals.” Special educational interventions are therefore required that strengthen religion’s potential for fostering democracy as well as counteract and prevent anti-democratic developments.

Interdisciplinary collaboration between science and practice

Previous approaches have focused on imparting knowledge, dialogue between mem­bers of different religions and encouraging tolerance. “Efficacy studies show, however, that this is rarely successful – with the exception of imparting knowledge,” says Unser. In order to develop new solutions, he is focusing on inter­dis­ci­plin­ary collaboration between experts and young talent in science and practice. “Findings, for example, on radicalization, interreligious com­mu­ni­cation or the influence of religion on people’s attitudes towards democracy indeed exist in individual disciplines, but they need to be brought together systematically.”

The aim is therefore to establish a European network within three years that will systematically advance the exchange of knowledge on “Religion and Citizenship” and develop in­no­va­ti­ve ideas as to how religious education can make an effective contribution to civic education. Among others, the proj­ect will analyze the specifics of national education systems and take into account the country-specific contexts in which religious and civic education takes place. The medium-term objective is a joint application for EU funding by the network partners. Funding from the Ministry of Education and Research will continue for three years.

Contact for further in­for­mation:

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Cam­pus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Cam­pus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Cam­pus to South Cam­pus by car, there is the connection via Vo­gel­pothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Cam­pus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 15 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duis­burg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the uni­ver­si­ty campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the uni­ver­si­ty station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity. There are two stations on North Cam­pus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Cam­pus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Cam­pus and offers a direct connection to South Cam­pus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity are spread over two campuses, the larger Cam­pus North and the smaller Cam­pus South. Additionally, some areas of the uni­ver­si­ty are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity (Second Page in English).