07 SES 13 A, Parents', Teachers' and Students' Views on Diversity
Project aims (maximum 500 words):
Intolerance towards ‘difference’ is increasing, due in part to the recent flow of migrants entering Europe, and the aftermath of Brexit (2016) and the Trump election (2017). Educational institutions are seen as spaces for welcoming new-comers, supporting inclusion and challenging racist and xenophobic behaviour.
The focus for this study is the perspectives of student stakeholders in 6 institutions in Ireland North & South, their awareness of religious and belief diversity and the implications for their professional practice . The originality of this project lies in the fact that there is a lacuna in the literature on the sensitive issue of religions, beliefs and perceptions of 'newcomers' among tertiary level students in the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland.
Aims of the Study
1) To provide a systematic and critical literature review of ‘Religion and Belief in Ireland’ (2000-2017)
2) To obtain the perspectives of second year HEA student stakeholders through an anonymous on-line survey
3) To explore perspectives of students on religions and beliefs through self-selected focus groups
4) To highlight key issues for policy and professional practice(s)
Within this context, the project draws theoretically on the work of ‘critical multiculturalism’ (Kincheloe and Steinberg 1997). An increase in Far Right politics across Europe (Faas 2013); hostility towards those who are different in Ireland (Carr 2016, Fanning 2012, Breen 2012 et al.); and a backlash in many countries to the recent migration trends (UN Refugee Agency 2015) form the literature base for this study. The debates have shifted from issues of equality and social inclusion (Modood 2010, Miller 2001), to that of anti-terrorism and hate speech/crime (Carr 2016, Gearon 2015, Jackson 2015, O’Donnell 2016).
At national level, a number of key policy documents and current scholarly publications helped inform the project (Coolahan 2011, NCCA 2015, HEA 2016); and Arweck’s work on Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity (2016) has been particularly useful. Finally, MacGreil (2011), and Francis’ work (2016) are pertinent in providing guidance for this innovative study conducted in Ireland Notrth and South.
The participants in this research project were all pre-service educators at either Early Childhood, Primary, Post-Primary or Adult Education levels. The research is influenced by the Toledo Guiding Principles which states that educators must be open to engaging with and learning about diverse religions and beliefs.
The research methodology and the modes of data collection through on-line survey and focus group was informed by robust protocols for data collection utilised by the European Social Survey, a pan-European, replicable and reputable framework for analysing and understanding the behaviours, opinions, values, and beliefs of Europe’s citizens (Breen 2017). The ESS uses Shalom Schwartz’s (Schwartz 2003) ‘Portrait Value Questionnaire’ to measure values. Incorporating this, a mixed methods approach involving Focus Groups as well as internet-based Survey monkey was utised. This study of Third Level Students’ perspectives on religions and beliefs in Ireland North and South drew on the issue of religion which is an enduring long-term theme in the ESS. The ESS data provided a unique insight into changing trends in religious practice and secularization across the island.. Ireland is particularly significant in the ESS work because Malta, Poland and Ireland are countries that exhibit the highest level of religiosity in Europe. Poland and Ireland are the only European countries where monthly attendance outstrips non-attendance (Breen 2017). The ESS survey questionnaire consists of core and rotating modules (which change over successive phases). The survey questions focus on prayer, religious identity, perceived religiosity and attitudes to ethnic groups. Survey design was influenced by the socio-demographic profile section of the ESS which includes household composition, sex, age, marital status, religion, education of respondent, partner and parents. Several key questions which have appeared in successive phases of the ESS were adapted and incorporated into the Survey design for this research into perspectives of Third Level students in educational context in ROI and Northern Ireland. Irish demographic trends suggest increasing religious diversity and a trend to secularism (Census 2011). Equality legislation, the changing values in European survey (EVS 1981-2008), and the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism (2013) has stimulated a public debate about the role of religions in schools (Darmody, Smyth & McCoy 2012, Tuohy 2013, O’Donnell 2015). The Review of Chaplaincy in Higher Education has determined that provision for a multi-belief student population is no longer sufficient (HEA, 2016). Further, between 2006 and 2011, Ireland experienced a 44% rise in the number of those who ticked the ‘No Religion’ Census box. Likewise, immigration into Northern Ireland and a change in traditional religious affiliation requires review of policy and practice..
Initial data analysis and results relate to religion, perceived discrimination, national and ethnic identity and attitudes to refugees across all six institutions. The fieldwork is underway and findings will identify whether levels of religiosity and secularisation in the student cohort are consistent with the identical age cohort in the general population. The results will also highlight the impact that the changing topography of religions and beliefs in Ireland North and South is having on future educators and how they view their professional practice. This will form part of our proposed presentation and paper for this conference; exploring the complexities of the concerns and seeking to provide a more nuanced understanding of the positioning and perspectives of this stakeholder group.
Indicative References Arweck, E. (ed) (2016) Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity, Abingdon: Routledge. Breen, M. (ed.) (2017) Values and Identities in Europe: Evidence for the European Social Survey, London: Routledge. Breen, M.J., Haynes, A. and Devereaux, E (2005) ‘Smuggling zebras for lunch’: media framing of Asylum seekers in the Irish print media, Etudes Irlandaises Vol. 30(1), p. 109-130. Coakley, J, (2012) Nationalism, Ethnicity and the State: Making and Breaking Nations, Sage Publications. DES Intercultural Education in the Primary School Guidelines for Teachers (2005) & Guidelines for Post-Primary Teachers (2006). Fischer, K. (2016) Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland: Separate but equal? Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. ESRI and UCD (2011) Religious Education in a Multicultural Society. (REMC): Religion and Schooling in Ireland: Key Informants' Perspective, Dublin: EVS (2015): European Values Study Longitudinal Data File 1981-2008 (EVS 1981-2008). GESIS Data Archive, Cologne. Fanning, B. (2012) Racism and Social Change in the Republic of Ireland. Second Edition, Manchester University Press. Kincheloe, J. and Steinberg, S. (1997) Critical Multiculturalism. Buckingham: Open University Press. Mawhinney, A. (2015) ‘The Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief: Norms and Compliance’. In International Human Rights: Perspectives from Ireland. Egan S (ed.), Bloomsbury, p. 267-282. Mawhinney, A. (2015) ‘International human rights law: its potential and limitations ineffecting change to the place of religion in the Irish education system’. Journal of Intercultural Studies, p. 291-305. Mawhinney, A., Niens, U., Richardson N. & Chiba Y. (2013) ‘Acculturation and religion in schools: the views of young people from minority belief backgrounds’. British Educational Research Journal, DOI: 10.1002/berj.3016. Mawhinney, A. (2012) ‘Crucifixes, classrooms and children: a semiotic cocktail’. In The Lautsi Papers: Multidisciplinary Reflections on Religious Symbols in the Public School Classroom. Temperman J. (ed) (Leiden: BRILL/Martinus Nijhoff,), p. 93-112. Mawhinney, A. & Niens, U., Richardson N., Chiba Y. (2012) ‘Religious education and Religious Liberty: Opt-out sand Young People’s Sense of Belonging’. In Henin, M. (ed) Law, Religious Freedoms and Education in Europe. Hunter- London: Ashgate. Mawhinney, A. (2012) ‘A discriminating education system: religious admission policies in Irish schools and international human rights law’. International Journal of Children’s Rights,Vol. 20(4), p. 603-623 NCCA (2015) Education about Religions and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics in the Primary School: Consultation Paper. Dublin: NCCA. . O’Donnell, A. (2016) 'Securitisation, Counterterrorism and the Silencing of Dissent: The Educational Implications of Prevent'. British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 64(1): p. 53-76.
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