Conference Workshops Rome 2023

EFTRE 15th Conference in Rome 2023

Workshop Topics

  1. The Docutube-method – Stefanie Sinclair and John Maiden (England)
  2. Performative RE – Sonja Danner (Austria)
  3. Classroom Strategies for Controversial Issues in Religious Education
    – Britta Kornholt & Eva Lindhardt (both Denmark) & Norman Richardson (Northern Ireland)
  4. The narratives of secularization and their implications for RE – Marlene Printz Jellesen (Denmark)
  5. European Microcosm in Orthodox Religious Education – Dr. Marina Kiroudi (Germany)
  6. Exploring the lived experience of individuals, families and communities through the lens of a five year old – Gill Vaisey (Wales)
  7. Forgiveness Education – can a moral virtue be taught? Exploring forgiveness within the Primary Classroom and beyond – Dr. Anita Gracie & Jill Magennis (Northern Ireland)
  8. Religious-Spiritual Identity Development in Student Teachers – Building Bridges through Pilgrimage in an International Context – Prof. Dr. Bert Roebben & Barbara Niedermann (both Germany) & Sandra Cullen (Ireland)
  9. Ars longa, vita brevis: Art, work and RE – what makes life worth living? – Leon Robinson (Scotland)
  10. More to be confirmed.

There are still some open spaces for workshops. If you would like to offer a workshop at the conference, please contact EFTRE secretary Elisabeth Faber via .

Details about the Workshops

Workshop No.1
The Docutube-method: Using the creative process of filmmaking to facilitate reflection on religious diversity in the past and present

Dr Stefanie Sinclair and Dr John Maiden (England)

This workshop demonstrates how young people can explore sensitive and potentially controversial topics relating to religion through the creative process of making short documentary-style films (so-called ‘docutubes’). It will show how this approach can actively engage young people (aged 13-18) in learning about religious diversity in the past and present, in light of the changing ways young people use technology to learn and communicate. It will share examples and resources developed by the EU-funded international RETOPEA (‘Religious Toleration and Peace’) project and include an interactive taster session of the docutube-method.  The workshop will explain how teachers and youth workers can access and work with the freely available RETOPEA resources to use the methodology themselves. The project website ( provides an extensive collection of downloadable images and extracts from documents (known as ‘clippings’) that are intended to serve as starting points for discussion and reflection on living in a diverse and complex multi-religious and multi-secular world. An online course provides practical guidance to those seeking to run docutube workshops, using the process of filmmaking.  Participants will be shown examples of docutubes made by young people across Europe and offered a hands-on taster session of the docutube-method, working with cameras provided by the project team.

Stefanie is a Senior Lecturere in Religious Studies and the Academic Lead for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at the Open University, UK. John is Head of Department for Religious Studies at the Open University, UK. Both John and Stefanie have been members of the Horizon 2020 project Religious Toleration and Peace (RETOPEA).

Photo of Sonja.

Workshop No.2
Performative RE / Educazione religiosa performativa

Sonja Danner (Austria)

Children are growing up more and more in families where religious education plays little or no role. Attending church on Sundays or prayer is given little importance in daily life. Religious celebrations such as Christmas and Easter etc. are celebrated, but often without recalling the religious significance of these. Thus, religious education must fill this vacuum and also offer students the opportunity to have religious experiences there to some degree.

This workshop offers the opportunity to try out and reflect on different performative methods that are available for this purpose in religious education classes.

The workshop can be held in English or Italian.

I bambini crescono sempre di più in famiglie in cui l’educazione religiosa ha un ruolo scarso o nullo. La partecipazione alla chiesa la domenica o la preghiera hanno poca importanza nella vita quotidiana. Si celebrano feste religiose come il Natale, la Pasqua, ecc. ma spesso senza ricordarne il significato religioso. Pertanto, l’educazione religiosa deve riempire questo vuoto e offrire agli studenti l’opportunità di fare esperienze religiose in qualche misura.

Questo workshop offre l’opportunità di sperimentare e riflettere su vari metodi performativi disponibili a questo scopo nelle classi di educazione religiosa.

Il workshop può essere tenuto in inglese o in italiano.

Sonja has been a teacher of Religious Education since 1991. From 2000, she has been responsible for the in-service training of RE teachers of Secondary Schools in Austria and is based in Vienna at the Kirchliche Pädagogische Hochschule Wien / Krems.

Workshop No.3
Classroom Strategies for Controversial Issues in Religious Education

Britta Kornholt & Eva Lindhardt (both Denmark)
& Norman Richardson (Northern Ireland)

Based on the work of a current Erasmus Plus project (with participants from Cyprus, Denmark, Lebanon, Norway and Northern Ireland), this workshop will explore some of the pedagogical approaches that RE teachers can employ to deal with the controversial issues that may be encountered in classrooms in different countries.  The workshop will be practical and interactive and will offer examples from the findings of the international project.

Britta is Associate Professor at Department of Teacher Education, University College Copenhagen KP. She teaches the subject Religion, Ethics/Philosophy and citizenship.
Eva is Associate Professor in citizenship and religious education, University College Copenhagen, KP, Denmark.
Norman is an Honorary Fellow at Stranmillis University College, Belfast, where, post-retirement, he continues to teach Religious Studies and intercultural education.

Workshop No.4
The narratives of secularization and their implications for RE

Marlene Printz Jellesen (Denmark)

Based on Malene’s PhD research project on ”Participatory opportunities in Religious Education in primary schools in Denmark”, this workshop will discuss the implications that particular narratives of secularization can have for Religious Education. The workshop will discuss which approaches to the phenomenon of religion can support pupils’ participation in the subject and give them an understanding of the field.

Marlene is Associate Professor at Department of Teacher Education, University College Aalborg, UCN, Denmark. She teaches the subject Religion/Knowledge of Christianity and the subject Religion, Ethics/Philosophy and citizenship. Currently, she is working on a PhD thesis on Participation Opportunities in the subject Knowledge of Christianity (kristendomskundskab) at Aalborg University, Denmark.

Workshop No.5
European Microcosm in Orthodox Religious Education

Dr. Marina Kiroudi (Germany)

Orthodox Religious Education in Germany can be characterized as an European microcosm. Most of the orthodox pupils have a background or experience of migration from Eastern or South-Eastern Europe. The reference to the faith is more at home in the language and the tradition of the country of their background. However, the diverse shaping of the religious life at different places and the unity of faith worldwide belong together. Orthodox religious education aims to build a bridge between local religious traditions and the unity of faith as well as its meaning in the current context in Germany. The workshop will give an insight in didactic approaches of identity formation, language and dialogue skills. At the same time, the question is how interconfessional bridges can be built.

Marina is Research Associate at the Department of Religious Education, Faculty of Catholic Theology, University of Bonn.

Workshop No.6
Exploring the lived experience of individuals, families and communities through the lens of a five-year-old

Gill Vaisey (Wales)

Provision of Religious Education for our younger pupils needs to be meaningful, relevant and age appropriate – engaging, stimulating and interactive. This can be seen as a challenge, and even a barrier by some practitioners. Suitable tools and pedagogical approaches are needed to instil practitioners with confidence and an enthusiasm to approach RE with younger pupils.

In this session, Gill will share the pedagogical thinking behind her work, illustrate how this is embedded within her resources and consider the potential impact of this approach on the religion and worldviews education for young learners.

We will explore Gill’s experience of working with eight families, each of a different worldview and the influential curriculum resources that have been produced as a result of this innovative project: ‘Belonging and Believing’. Several of these resources are free to access and can be widely shared with advisers and practitioners to use in training and in the classroom.

The session will include time for reflection, questions and discussion about the project and the provision of religion and worldviews education for Early Years pupils and young learners.

Gill is a Religion and Worldviews Adviser and writer of high quality RE curriculum materials for practitioners and pupils. As an experienced primary school teacher and RE Subject Leader, Gill became an independent education consultant and has specialised in Early Years and Primary RE for over twenty years, providing support to teachers, LAs, Dioceses and SACREs across the UK.
Gill has a wealth of experience in providing professional support to SACREs and Agreed Syllabus Conferences, leading and managing teacher working groups, writing Agreed Syllabuses and producing exemplar curriculum planning and support materials.
To meet the needs of practitioners and pupils, Gill began writing and producing books and resource materials for the classroom. Her series of Puddles books were the first to be awarded accreditation for the Understanding Christianity project. Her Muslim story resources received an Early Years Excellence award.
Her recent ‘Belonging and Believing’ project, working with eight families over three years, shares their lived experience through the lens of a five-year old from within each family. These resources bring an exciting fresh approach to exploring different religions and worldviews with young children. The series has been recognised as a finalist in the Teach Primary Awards.
Gill’s high-quality advice, training and curriculum materials facilitate more enjoyable, accessible and meaningful RE for practitioners and pupils.

Gill’s work can be seen at
Twitter: @BooksAtPress

Workshop No.7
Forgiveness Education – can a moral virtue be taught? Exploring forgiveness within the Primary Classroom and beyond

Dr. Anita Gracie & Jill Magennis (Northern Ireland)

Anita Gracie and Jill Magennis are part of a research team from Stranmillis University College, Belfast, who have been involved in evaluating the impact of the Forgiveness Education curriculum as part of an international comparative study. Eighteen primary schools across Northern Ireland taught their pupils (aged 10-11 years) the concepts, skills and attitudes necessary if they wanted to forgive someone. Some of the core values and attitudes at the heart of this curriculum include Agapé (selfless) love, recognising the inherent worth in ourselves and others, and setting aside our natural desire for revenge or punishment when we have been wounded in favour of making the active decision to forgive. These values and dispositions relate to religious and moral teaching from many world faiths and align with the focus of Religious Education and school ethos in both the Maintained (predominantly Catholic) and Controlled (predominantly Protestant) school sectors, making it an ideal topic for schools engaging in Shared Education programmes. This workshop will explore the value of RE in personal development and human/group relations through the lens of Forgiveness Education and draw upon the work of Professor Robert Enright, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has written extensively about the detrimental psychological and physical impact which can be caused by people holding onto grief, anger and resentment and the freedom, healing and life enhancing benefits of being able to forgive. Feedback from schools on this study has been positive with schools seeing the impact that the forgiveness curriculum had on their pupils, their classrooms and the school community with the hope of a more peaceful Northern Ireland. Within this 25th anniversary year of the Good Friday Agreement there continues to be a need for social cohesion and fostering of positive relationships. This workshop will explore the possibilities that Forgiveness Education offers within the troubled waters and changing times that are around us.

Anita is a Senior Lecturer at Stranmillis University College where she teaches Primary RE Curriculum Studies and Specialism to undergraduate B.Ed. student teachers, and Religious Studies for Post Primary B.Ed Students. Having worked as a teacher of religion and history in Dublin for six years, Anita moved to Northern Ireland and completed a doctoral thesis at Queen’s University Belfast on the human rights of newcomer pupils in secondary schools. She is also the author of an A-Level textbook on World Religions and has presented papers at international conferences over recent years in Macedonia, Malta and Belfast. Anita also gives occasional seminars as part of ministerial formation classes in the Church of Ireland and Methodist Theological Colleges and is the Secretary of the Board of Education for the Methodist Church in Ireland. Recent research projects have included the teaching of Spirituality in the Primary Classroom and an evaluation of the Forgiveness Education Curriculum for 10- and 11-year-olds as part of an international comparative study funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
Jill is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years Education at Stranmillis University College, Belfast. She was previously a primary school teacher and also held the position of Primary Schools co-ordinator for the Corrymeela Community (Centre for Peace and Reconciliation) working with a range of schools to support cross community programmes. She teaches on the PGCE, B.Ed Primary and Early Childhood Studies degree programmes. Her research interests include the role of educators in promoting respect for diversity and peacebuilding in divided societies and pedagogies for supporting the personal, social and emotional development of children. She has held the role of Principal Investigator on an international project funded by the John Templeton Foundation, which aims to assess the impact of the implementation of Forgiveness Education in educational settings with children aged 10-11 years old.

Photo of Sandra.

Workshop No.8
Religious-Spiritual Identity Development in Student Teachers – Building Bridges through Pilgrimage in an International Context

Prof. Dr. Bert Roebben & Barbara Niedermann (both Germany) & Sandra Cullen (Ireland)

What kind of learning opportunities open up when RE students from 3 different European countries go on pilgrimage together? Based on the project SpiRiTex – Sacred Spaces, Rituals and Texts in European Teacher Education the workshop wants to give insights into alternative forms of religious-spiritual spaces of experience for future RE teachers. The research project of the University of Bonn explores the interplay of sacred space, religious rituals and biblical text, framed by pilgrimage, to address the question of how these elements can be made fruitful for teacher education.

Bert holds the chair of Religious Education at the Faculty for Catholic Theology at the University of Bonn since October 2017. Until then he taught at the universities of Leuven (Belgium), Tilburg (Netherlands) and Dortmund (Germany).
Barbara works as a research associate at the Department of Religious Education at the Faculty for Catholic Theology at the University of Bonn.
Sandra is Head of School of Human Development and Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Dublin City University. She is also the Director of the Irish Centre for Religious Education which supports research, practice and policy development in RE. Sandra taught post-primary RE for fourteen years before moving into initial teacher education for RE teachers.

Workshop No.9
Ars longa, vita brevis: Art, work and RE – what makes life worth living?

Leon Robinson (Scotland)

Drawing on such diverse sources as classical philosophers, the dharma traditions, Japanese Tsukumogami, the Islamic concept of caliphate and the Judaeo-Christian duties of stewardship, this workshop invites participants to consider what is valuable and meaningful in life, and ways in which these might be shared with and between learners of all ages in the context of religious and philosophical education.
Participants will be invited to share their enthusiasm and appreciation of artworks, poetry, buildings, music and artefacts.
The workshop’s ambitions include a critical exploration of RE’s affective domain, the relationship between caring, motivation and resilience, and the positive psychological impact of appreciation.

Participants should come prepared with some means of sharing their objects or artworks either digitally or by bringing them into the workshop.
Ideally, a digital forum would be made available to share all contributions, and allow mutual comments, suggestions and appreciation.

Leon is an award-winning playwright and teacher.  He has been a lecturer in Religious and Philosophical Education at the University of Glasgow School of Education since 2003, with a special interest in religious art, and in particular Hindu iconography. He has given presentations and led workshops on education, assessment, art and performance throughout the UK, Canada and Europe.