Reflection by our new chair Bert Roebben

At the conference taking place in Rome in August 2023, EFTRE elected a new chair for its organisation. Bert Roebben is professor of Religious Education at the at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Bonn. He is passionate about teaching and researching learning processes in the field of religions and worldviews in a European context. In his blogbpost, he shares his reflections about the challenges and opportunities EFTRE faces in the Europe we live in today. The EFTRE family is grateful to welcome such a motivated and passionate RE expert as its leader.

Students are entitled to “grow in shared humanity”, based on particular religious and non-religious narratives of hope and healing. Classroom teachers are their examples in meaning giving, their generators of hope, their “wounded healers”. They deserve all respect and support.

– Bert Roebben, chair

EFTRE conference planning gets concrete

“Building bridges over troubled waters – RE in changing times.” This is the theme of the next EFTRE conference, which will take place from 24 to 27 August 2023. The Executive Board of EFTRE is in the middle of preparations and was able to meet in presence in November 2022 for the first time after 3 years.

In Rome, they were warmly welcomed by their Italian member organisation SNADIR (Association of Teachers of Religion in Italy) and its Executive Director Orazio Ruscica. With the Link Campus University, a beautiful location was found in the centre of Rome that invites teachers, teacher trainers as well as researchers of religious education to learn together, to share meals and exchange with each other.

More information about the venue, the programme and registration will be available soon.

Conference in Rome 24th-27th of August in 2023

EFTRE very much regrets to announce that for obvious reasons relating to the pandemic, we have taken the decision to postpone our triennial Conference, due to be held in Rome at the end of August next year, 2022.

But this is simply a delay and NOT a cancellation! We are therefore rescheduling the Conference for the parallel dates in the following year so it will now take place from 24th to 27th August in 2023. After all, Rome is the Eternal City and will still be there to welcome us then! Our theme will be ‘Bridges Over Troubled Water: RE in Changing Times’.

The following EFTRE Conference is to be held in 2025 as originally planned. We are now in the process of looking for a host city for that so if you or your colleagues would be interested in working with us on it, please contact me by email – my address is . I would be delighted to hear from you!

In the meantime, the work of EFTRE continues. You can stay in touch with us via this website and all our other online platforms. We are also planning further virtual seminars at regular intervals and look out too for news of our next Executive and Board Meetings.

As an organisation, EFTRE is very much about encounter and the significant importance we place on engagement with one another – so we all look forward in the hope of being able to enjoy more opportunities for such experiences in the coming weeks and months! 

Thank you!

Lesley Prior
Chair of EFTRE

Online Conference on storytelling and RE

You are interested in how to use storytelling for making a case for Religious Education? Within the framework of the Cooperating Group on Religion in Education (CoGREE), the two EFTRE executive members Lesley Prior and Bianca Kappelhoff, recently co-organised an event series about exactly this topic:  

“Let’s tell our stories – the positive impact of religion in public education”

Read the report and access the presentations of the keynote speakers her below.

Topic of 2022 EFTRE Conference announced

A year before the event, the EFTRE Executive has now taken a decision about the theme of next conference. From 25-28th August 2022, colleagues from the RE community all around Europe are invited to Rome to work together on the theme “Bridges Over Troubled Waters – RE in Changing Times”.

The idea is to focus on how children and young people experience religion and belief in their everyday lives and to reflect on what that means for teaching and learning meaningful RE. Pupils across Europe are facing a lot of potentially troubling developments from the current pandemic, to climate change, to questions of equality and discrimination. All these developments carry profound questions about how we want to live together as humans. What should RE look like in order to equip these pupils with the knowledge, understanding and skills to navigate their way through these tumultuous waters? This will be at the heart of the Conference.

As always, the EFTRE Conference will be composed of a mixture of keynotes, practical workshops and local visits. Rome as a location is obviously particularly rich in cultural and historical sites not only linked to the Catholic tradition but also to other denominations, religions and worldviews. EFTRE always aims to include a wide range of perspectives in its programme. Stay tuned for more details and check for further information in due course!

EFTRE board starts planning conference 2022

We are staying hopeful! That was the message from the EFTRE board meeting on 21st November 2020. Even though the delegates had to gather on Zoom instead of the Mediterranean city of Valencia (Spain), the humour was good and everyone agreed: We want to plan the next conference scheduled for 2022 as a face-to-face meeting. Naturally, the dynamic evolution of the pandemic is being monitored and the programme developed in such a way that it is transformable to a digital setting.

In a lively discussion, participants collected ideas for the different parts of the conference: keynote speakers, workshops, city visits and social gatherings. In relation to the last two points the location of the conference itself has so much to offer because it is Rome! With its rich history, monuments and art collections and not least due to its significance for the Catholic tradition and beyond, Rome offers an inspiring setting for the conference. EFTRE Conferences always take full advantage of their locations with lots of opportunities for first hand learning experiences in the host city. This approach is also reflected in the search for an appropriate conference theme and there were reflections on the current provisional title, “Living Religion” – the EFTRE Executive will develop these ideas in the coming weeks and months.

Apart from the major discussion about the conference, delegates adopted several proposals from the Executive concerning the arrangements of finances, the development of a new website and more efficient systems of membership management.

Reconciling realities in Northern Ireland (EFTRE conference extension programme)

Twenty years after the signing of the Good Friday agreement, Northern Ireland was an ideal place to further explore the subject of the conference “Reconciling Realities”. Sixteen participants explored the city of Belfast and the surrounding countryside under the competent leadership of Norman Richardson, EFTRE board member for Northern Ireland. An additional study day offered everyone the chance to engage in dialogue with educators and researchers from Northern Ireland.

For the two hours ride from Dublin to Belfast, Norman challenged all participants to see if they could spot the Irish border. Indeed, there was only one road sign indicating speed limits in Northern Ireland. But the most obvious sign for everyone on the bus was the rainbow that emerged in the cloudy sky right at that moment. What a wonderful start to the trip!

The following day began with a tour through the city of Belfast. The group learned about the history and current situation of the city. Often, one could tell from the flags in the streets whether it was a Loyalist (Protestant) or Nationalist (Catholic) neighbourhood. Stops at several mural paintings reflected very well the past marked by the Troubles. The story of a conflict between two neighbouring schools showed how the animosity affected education. Particularly impressive was the visit to one of the most well known parts of the Peace Wall. Originally constructed as a temporary barrier, it now towers up to eight metres high in the sky keeping the division of the city quite concrete.

The trip further north out of the city offered all kinds of dreamy landscapes with the green meadows, sheep and cattle that one would imagine in Northern Ireland. High above the cliffs at the seaside lie the buildings of Corrymeela. This Peace and Reconciliation Centre has largely contributed to reconciling realities in Northern Ireland over the last fifty years. With thousands of volunteers the community offers programmes for (school) groups, families and individuals and brings all kind of people together. The programme manager Sean Pettis presented one of their programmes entitled “legacies of conflict” during the symposium the following day.

The symposium offered the chance to reflect on the experiences of the previous days. Presentations about the historical background of Northern Ireland and the educational systems and correlated challenges helped to understand the current implications, also in view of a possible (hard) Brexit. A panel and discussion rounded off the very insightful and valuable extension programme. The numerous personal stories that Norman shared with the group made this trip even more special to everyone who participated. The group thanked Norman Richardson warmly and gratefully for the excellent organisation of the trip.

Please note: You find more information on the extension programme and the conference itself on the EFTRE website.

Written by Bianca Kappelhoff