Religious Intolerance: Open Challenges for Education

Culture and education play a pivotal role in preventing and combating forms of discrimination and violence towards religious minorities. A multitude of educational programs and teachings all over Europe (and beyond) are based on the idea of educating to ‘religious tolerance’. However, this idea is not always clear in its conceptual assumptions and extended analysis attesting that the results achieved are still lacking.

The research program Religious Intolerance: Open Challenges for Education aims to prevent/contrast young people’s intolerant and violent discourses or attitudes, which discriminate religious minorities, by analyzing principles, methods and results of official teachings in schools’ curricula, as well as complementary forms of education in formal and informal settings.

For the academic year 2017-2018, the program included a series of laboratories for the secondary schools of Trento. The project titled Racconta un’altra Storia! (Tell a Different Story!) was addressed to support students in handling with the diffusion of intolerant contents on the web against religious minorities. The approach proposed by the Center for Religious Studies (ISR) moves from the conviction that these hostile forms of expressions (speech, texts, images) can induce their audience to accept or share this escalation of violence and young generations are one of the most sensitive targets of this dangerous communication.

Starting from these assumptions, ISR proposes a new research-action project, DICO-DI-NO (I say no) funded by Fondazione Intercultura Onlus, and developed in cooperation with the FBK Unit “Research and Innovation for School” and with the FBK Area Smart Cities and Communities (ICT). DICO-DI-NO offers a new theoretical and practical itinerary that will activate the cooperation among researchers, teachers and students of secondary schools of Trento and Rome.

For the academic year 2018/2019, the project implements digital and didactic laboratories in order to achieve the following goals: a) sharing correct information about religious diversity and about religious minorities in Italy and Europe; b) promoting students’ openness and skills of living harmoniously in multicultural contexts; c) developing critical analysis and counter-narrative against discrimination, extremist ideologies and violence.

Within the frame of this research program, ISR also activated a collaboration with Rete Dialogues – a network of Italian public schools coordinated by Italian Minister for Education (MIUR) –  who fosters social innovation projects in the schools by promoting the intercultural dialogue.

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