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Religion and Public Schools: International Perspectives Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

The “Religion and Public Schools: International Perspectives” (RPS) Unit focuses on the global relationship between religion and education (RE) across diverse historical, geographical, cultural, political, and pedagogical settings.


For the 2024 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), we are seeking papers that deeply examine the intricate intersection of religion, education, and violence worldwide within the framework of the 2024 AAR Presidential theme “Violence, Nonviolence, and the Margin.”


Scholars, researchers, and practitioners are encouraged to submit papers that explore the multifaceted dimensions of these themes, investigating their implications, challenges, and transformative educational potentials at both local and global levels. We specifically welcome papers addressing various educational contexts and methodologies and encourage multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary perspectives.

Themes to explore could be:


Exploring Controversial Themes and Antiviolence Pedagogies in RE

This track dives into the complex relationship between religion, violence, and pedagogical strategies within RE. It seeks to navigate sensitive topics while advocating for anti violence pedagogies within global educational frameworks.

Examples of Key Focus Areas are:

  • Teaching Controversial Topics: Religion and Violence in RE. Develop innovative teaching strategies addressing the interplay between religion and violence, emphasizing critical thinking and respectful dialogue.
  • Global Perspectives on Teaching Religion and Antiviolence Pedagogies in RE. Analyze diverse global approaches to teaching religion, emphasizing language, human rights, and decolonization theories in shaping antiviolence pedagogies within religious education contexts.


Navigating Free Speech, Religious Discourse, and Hate Speech in RE

This segment critically analyzes the intricate interplay between free speech, religious discourse, hate speech, and their impact on characterizing violence against religious groups within RE.

Examples of Key Focus Areas are:

  • Characterization of Violence Against Christians. Explore narratives shaping violence against Christians in diverse religious, cultural, and societal contexts, examining their implications in educational settings.
  • Discourses on Religion, Antisemitism, and Islamophobia. Investigate intersections of religious discourse with narratives on antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hate speech. Analyze their impact on fostering or challenging violence against Jewish and Muslim communities.
  • Free Speech and Its Limits. Delve into the complex dynamics between free speech, hate speech, and religious discourses in RE. Explore how boundaries intersect with discussions on violence against religious groups and their freedoms.


Understanding Violence and Symbolism in Religious Education

This segment delves into the multifaceted aspects of violence, both overt and symbolic, and their impacts within educational frameworks, specifically in the context of RE.

Examples of Key Focus Areas are:

  • Manifestations and Intersections of Violence in RE. Explore the varied forms of violence, from physical acts to symbolic gestures, within educational settings. Analyze how this violence intersects with the teaching of religion and its impact on pedagogical approaches in different school systems.
  • Violence, Marginality, and Theorization of Religion in RE. Discuss how violence within educational systems impacts the perception, teaching, and theorization of religion, potentially leading to marginalization. Explore its influence on the conceptualization of religious concepts and practices within RE.


We also welcome proposals beyond these themes, particularly pre-arranged sessions spotlighting global perspectives on RE. We value sessions that embrace diversity across genders, racial/ethnic backgrounds, and a spectrum of fields, methodologies, and scholarly levels.


Call for Proposals for Online June Meeting

State of the Art on Religion and Education: A Roundtable Discussion

For this 2024 AAR virtual session we seek contributions able to depict the contemporary landscape of religion and education (RE) globally. We invite scholars, educators, and practitioners to contribute to this dialogue, examining the diverse aspects of curriculum, pedagogy, and the portrayal of ‘religion’ in educational contexts worldwide.


Specifically, we encourage participants to explore the nuances of current curricular structures, pedagogical approaches, and contents in teaching ‘religion,’ considering the historical, cultural, and social influences that shape these aspects both locally and globally. We also invite discussions on innovations, challenges, and best practices that are influencing and shaping educational frameworks in different contexts.


The format includes 10-minute presentations highlighting the portrayal of religion and its integration into educational systems across different countries. Following these presentations, participants in this virtual session will engage in a broader panel discussion aimed at synthesizing insights, exchanging diverse perspectives, and generating analyses on global trends and challenges within RE.

Statement of Purpose

This Program Unit promotes the global and comparative study of "religion education" in public schools around the world. By encouraging interdisciplinary research on the ethical, legal, political, pedagogical, and theological issues that arise with the study of religion in elementary and secondary schools, we seek to deepen our understanding of alternative approaches to religion as an academic subject. We also hope to find new ways of responding to the increasing religious diversity in schools and societies and to study the relationship between religious education and citizenship education in pluralistic democratic societies.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members