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School of Human Development
Adult Religious Education and Faith Development (AREFD) research project

New DCU research project aims to examine religious education and faith development among adults in Ireland

A new DCU research project will explore the nature, scope and potential of religious education and faith development for adults in Ireland.  It will be conducted over three years by researchers at the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education (MDCCE) at Dublin City University. The principal investigator is Dr. Gareth Byrne and the post-doctoral researcher for this project is Dr. Bernadette Sweetman.

This project will look at a range of possibilities which may encourage adults to explore and deepen their faith experience and grow more fully into their faith community.  It will focus on and seek to facilitate a re-energising of adult religious education and faith development in Ireland.

Various groups and communities are involved in different types of formal and informal activities that in some way are aimed at helping adults achieve a greater self-understanding and make sense of their lives.  Some have an explicit religious focus and belong within a denominational expression and some are more broadly spiritual.

Religious education and faith development is something that is usually associated with school and with young people.  But adults also look for opportunities to delve into the questions of life and refine their sense of identity and purpose.  This research will look at how can Irish adults currently do this, and examine new ways they may think about these questions.

Dr. Sweetman said 

“We are hoping that as many people take part in this project as possible and we’re inviting all adults over eighteen, no matter what their beliefs and values are, what worldview or faith they hold, or to which community they belong, to have their say on new possibilities for all adults in Ireland to explore and develop their faith-lives.

Adults in Ireland have rarely been asked to suggest opportunities for religious education and faith development that fit their needs. We are keen to listen to their voice.”

The first phase of this project involves the gathering of data from an online survey.  The results of this survey will inform the subsequent phases.

The survey can be accessed here and will be live until Friday 14th of June 2019.