Irish Centre for Religious Education
Voices of Young People Conference
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Voices of Young People Conference

The Irish Centre for Religious Education (ICRE), in association with the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education (MDCCE), is delighted to announce its upcoming Conference disseminating research giving a voice to young people at post-primary level on religion, education, religious diversity and religious education.

The ICRE participates in both quantitative and qualitative empirical research into religious education and associated areas in both the Irish and international contexts. In the past 5 years a number of large datasets have been established allowing comparative analysis of the attitudes of young people in Ireland to religion, beliefs and values. The interrogation of these datasets makes a vital contribution to informing our understanding of the religiosity and spirituality of young people in contemporary Ireland as well as their attitude to religious education.

This timely conference offers a space for those interested in religious education in Ireland to hear what young people, at both junior and senior cycle, are saying, and respond from their varied interests and perspectives. Opportunities for small-group conversation and participation from the floor will be built into the schedule. Please book your place early so as not to be disappointed.

Presenters

Professor Jeff Astley

Professor Jeff Astley is Alister Hardy Professor of Religious and Spiritual Experience, University of Warwick, and Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University. He was for 32 years the founding director of the North of England Institute for Christian Education in Durham. He is the author or editor of 40 books on Christian education, practical theology and religious faith, including SCM Studyguide to Christian doctrine (London: SCM Press, 2010), Teaching religion, teaching truth (Bern: Peter Lang, 2012), Exploring ordinary theology (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), Studying God: Doing theology (London: SCM Press, 2014) and with Leslie J. Francis, Diversity and intersectionality: Studies in religion, education and values (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2016).

Dr. Gareth Byrne

Dr. Gareth Byrne is Associate Professor of Religious Education and Director of the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education, Dublin City University. His primary areas of teaching and research are religious education and Catholic education. He was the founding director of the Irish Centre for Religious Education (ICRE) and the writer for the Irish Episcopal Conference of Share the good news: National directory for catechesis in Ireland (Dublin: Veritas 2010). His recent contributions include an edited volume with Patricia Kieran, Toward mutual ground: Pluralism, religious education and diversity in Irish schools (Dublin: Columba, 2013) as well as chapters in Astley, J. & Francis, L.J. (Eds.) Diversity and intersectionality (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2016), Shanahan, M. (Ed.) Does religious education matter? (London: Routledge, 2017), Whittle, S. (Ed.) Researching Catholic education (Singapore: Springer, 2018), Whittle, S. (Ed.), Religious education in Catholic schools: Perspectives from Ireland and the UK (Oxford: Peter Lang, forthcoming, 2018) and Buchanan, M. and Gellel, A.M. (Eds.) Global perspectives on Catholic religious education, volume II (Springer: forthcoming 2018).

Dr. Sandra Cullen

Dr. Sandra Cullen is Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Dublin City University Institute of Education and Director of the Irish Centre for Religious Education (ICRE). She is chair of DCU’s MA in Religion and Education (post-primary) and Religious Education leader of the EdD programme. Her research interests include the place of religious education in the public space, the role of conversation in religious education, and the religious education of religion teachers and their continuing professional and personal development. Her most recent publications are: Interpreting “between privacies”: Religious education as a conversational activity, in M. Shanahan (Ed.) Does religious education matter? (London: Routledge, 2017), and Cullen, S. The religious education of the religion teacher, in Buchanan, M. & Gellel, A.M., (Eds.) Global perspectives on Catholic religious education, volume II: Learning and leading in a pluralist world (Springer: forthcoming 2018).

Professor Leslie J. Francis

Professor Leslie J. Francis is Professor of Religions and Education and Director of the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit at the University of Warwick. He has been conducting quantitative research and publishing in the fields of religious education and church school studies since the 1970s. His research is rooted both in the psychology of religion and in empirical theology. He is author or editor of over 70 books on religious education, Christian formation, practical theology, psychology of religion, church school studies, and clergy studies. His recent books include Anglican cathedrals in modern life (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2015), The empirical science of religious education (London: Routledge, 2016), and Lessons in spiritual development (London: Church House Publishing, 2017). With Dr Tania ap Siôn he publishes curriculum resources for young learners, including the series Exploring our World and Exploring Why (Bear Lands Publishing, available at http://www.st-marys-centre.org.uk/resources.html).

Professor Andrew McGrady

Professor Andrew McGrady is a member of the Advisory Board of the Irish Centre for Religious Education at the DCU Institute of Education. He is currently the Chairperson of the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) and a trustee of the Mater Dei Educational and Research Trust. He previously lectured at the Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin (now incorporated into DCU) serving as Director from 2008 to 2016, and was a Council member of the Teaching Council of Ireland. His current research interests include religious education, faith-based schools and young peoples’ religiosity and spirituality. His recent publications include: Teaching religion in schools in Ireland, in Rothgangel, M., Jackson, R., and Jaggle, M., (Eds.) Religious education at schools in Europe: Part 2, western Europe (Vienna, Vienna University Press, 2014) and 'Teaching religion': Challenges and opportunities for educational practice in a pluralist context, in Byrne, G., and Kieran, P., (Eds.) Toward mutual ground: Pluralism, religious education and diversity in Irish Schools (Dublin: Columba Press, 2013).

Dr. Bernadette Sweetman

Dr. Bernadette Sweetman is a research assistant in the Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection (EQI) in the Institute of Education, Dublin City University.  She is the author of Our family mass: Resources for the family Sunday liturgy series (Veritas, 2012-2014) and was part of the writing team for the Credo Series (Veritas 2013-2015) used in Catholic high schools across the USA.  She was Research and Development Officer for the Irish Centre for Religious Education from 2013-2016.  Currently lecturing on a number of modules in initial teacher education for second-level religious education teachers, her research interests focus on religious education at primary and post-primary levels, peer mentoring and intercultural education. Her upcoming publications include: Godparenthood and education: An Irish perspective, in Whittle, S. (Ed.), Religious education in Catholic schools: Perspectives from Ireland and the UK (Oxford: Peter Lang, forthcoming 2018) and with Gareth Byrne, ‘CPD and RE: What do RE teachers in Irish Catholic primary and post-primary schools say they need?’, in Buchanan, M. and Gellel, A.M. (Eds.) Global perspectives on Catholic religious education, volume II (Springer: forthcoming 201

Schedule

Friday 8thJune
5.45pmRegistration
6.30pmWelcome
Session 1
6.40pmAsking questions and analysing answers about religious experience: Developing the Greer tradition – Prof. Jeff Astley
7.10pmCatholic identities, religious faith and moral values: An empirical enquiry among 16- to 19-year old male students in the Republic of Ireland – Prof. Andrew McGrady
7.40pm15 minute’s discussion in 2s and 3s about what you have heard
7.55pmSustaining churchgoing young Catholics in the Republic of Ireland: Assessing the importance of parental example – Dr. Gareth Byrne and Dr. Bernadette Sweetman
8.25pm15 minute’s discussion around all three presentations
8.40pmTea and Coffee
Saturday 9thJune
9.30amRegistration
Session 2
10.00amThe religious identity of 16 to 19-year-old Catholic students within the Republic of Ireland in the early 2000s: Exploring sex differences– Prof. Andrew McGrady
10.30amExploring the social benefit of religious education in post-primary schools within the Republic of Ireland: An empirical enquiry among 13- to 15- year olds – Dr. Gareth Byrne
11.30amBreakout groups
11.30amTea and Coffee
Session 3
12noonGrowing up female and Catholic in the Republic of Ireland and in Scotland: The intersectionality of religious identity, religious saliency, and nationality – Dr. Gareth Byrne and Dr. Bernadette Sweetman
12.30pmExploring the personal, social and spiritual worldview of male adolescent atheists within the Republic of Ireland: An empirical enquiry – Prof. Leslie Francis
1.00pmBreakout groups
1.30pmLunchtime
Session 4
2.15pmProfile of Protestant sixth-form religion in Northern Ireland 1968-2001: The Greer legacy – Prof. Leslie Francis
2.45pmTurn up the volume: Hearing what the voices of young people are telling us about RE – Dr. Sandra Cullen
3.15pmOpen Forum, followed by close of conference

The above schedule may be subject to change

Research Information

Background to the Research

Irish Centre for Religious Education (ICRE)

The Irish Centre for Religious Education was founded in 2009 with the support of the Mater Dei Education and Research Trust and with Dr. Gareth Byrne as its first director. It seeks to support research, partnership, and innovation in the field of Religious Education, establishing a Religious Education Lecturers’ Forum nationwide and initiating a Doctor of Education (EdD) programme in Religious Education, at Dublin City University (DCU). The current Director is Dr. Sandra Cullen, School of Human Development, DCU Institute of Education. The Centre benefits from an Advisory Board of leading national and international experts in Religious Education and cognate areas. The ICRE participates in both quantitative and qualitative empirical research into Religious Education in both the Irish and international contexts. In the past 5 years a number of large datasets have been established allowing comparative analysis of the attitudes of young people in Ireland to religion, beliefs and values. The interrogation of these datasets makes a vital contribution to informing our understanding of the religiosity and spirituality of young people in contemporary Ireland.

 The Greer tradition

John Greer’s pioneering survey of sixth-form religion within Protestant schools in Northern Ireland was published in his book The Questioning Generation (Belfast: Church of Ireland Board of Education, 1972). The same survey was replicated in 1978, 1988, and 1998 and extended to Catholic schools as well. In 2010 the survey was replicated again and this time extended to the Republic of Ireland. Careful replication and extension of research is unusual within the field of religious education. The Greer tradition now offers a unique resource within Ireland.

 One strand within Greer’s research, developed by Dr Tania ap Siôn and Professor Jeff Astley, complements the Alister Hardy research tradition concerned with reports of religious experience, and the analysis of the variety of and changes in their description and interpretation.

Catholic Voluntary Secondary Schools 2003 Dataset

Research was carried out into the religiosity of school leavers and parental expectations of a Catholic Voluntary Secondary School (CVSS) in 81 schools under various forms of Catholic trusteeship by McGrady in 2003. Over the past 12 months these large datasets have been revisited by Francis and McGrady to identify the presence of various factors and trends which have grown in prominence in Irish Catholic schooling since then. As such these rich datasets provides a basis from which to explore the connections between Catholic identities and both the religious faith and moral values of school leavers and parents at the beginning of the twenty-first century by providing a baseline for future studies.

 Young Peoples Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project

Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project (AHRC Reference: AH/G014035/1) was a large scale mixed methods research project investigating the attitudes of 13- to 16-year-old students across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Young people from a variety of socio-economic, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds from different parts of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, with the addition of London as a special case, took part in the study. Professor Robert Jackson was principal investigator and Professor Leslie J. Francis was co-investigator. Together they led a team of qualitative and quantitative researchers based in the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, the University of Warwick. The project was part of the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme, and ran from 2009-12. Subsequently the study, directed by Professor Francis, was replicated in the Republic of Ireland (2014-15) under the auspices of the Irish Centre for Religious Education with Dr. Gareth Byrne as principle investigator. Dr. Bernadette Sweetman administered this research project as research and development officer of the ICRE.

Please book by 1st June as places are limited.  Attendance is free of charge.

Please click the link below to register with Eventbrite