Catholic Education in Detraditionalised Cultural Contexts: Volume II

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 November 2023) | Viewed by 6509

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
School of Philosophy & Theology, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, WA 6160, Australia
Interests: catholic education; faith and culture; systematic theology
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During 2020 and 2021, several leading scholars in the area of Catholic education contributed essays on the topic of Catholic education in detraditionalised cultural contexts to a special volume of this journal. Their contributions, which can be accessed here, were very well received. This has led to the request for a second volume on the same topic. The themes suggested for the original call for papers stands, and is reproduced here below. For this second volume, however, we would add a particular interest in reporting upon concrete examples of ‘best practice’ in successfully revitalising and re-presenting Catholic education in detraditionalised cultural contexts. The editor would also welcome in contributions from scholars and practitioners offering insights and perspectives upon education and detraditionalisation from beyond Western culture and so, in particular, from the Global South.

Finally, with the merger of the Holy See’s Congregation for Catholic Education with the Pontifical Council for Culture in 2022, papers that propose creative synergies between Catholic education and contemporary culture in detraditionalized cultural contexts and/or report on successful endeavours in this regard will be of particular interest.

Globally, Catholic education serves some 62 million students at preschool, primary and secondary levels and an additional 6.5 million in higher education (Wodon 2020), making the Catholic Church the largest non-governmental provider of education in the world. Enrolment in Catholic institutions of higher education worldwide has doubled over the past fifty years.

Generally, the contribution of faith-based education to diverse societies continues to be valued and acknowledged. However, in many detraditionalized cultural contexts and especially in those where the Catholic Church has in the past been culturally dominant, Catholic schools and universities are under public pressure to divest ownership and governance to secular providers (Byrne and Devine 2018). This is particularly the case where such institutions are publicly funded. 

Meanwhile, institutions that continue under Catholic ownership and governance can find themselves undergoing a process of ‘internal secularization’. Reasons for this include a decline in the adherence to religious beliefs and practices in these societies, growing public demand for greater diversity in educational provision, equality legislation relating to staff recruitment, and policies in the respect of inclusion, diversity and state-mandated curricular reforms that are at odds with Catholic Church teaching.

There are other factors that contribute to ‘internal secularisation’. The increasing predominance of the ‘mercantile paradigm’ in education (O’Sullivan 2005), accompanied by an emphasis upon competitiveness and performance, adversely affects the capacity of Catholic schools and universities to facilitate reflection upon questions of ultimate meaning (MacIntyre 2006).

The growing demand for so-called ‘safe spaces’ on school and university campuses, in many instances, leads to the denial of academic freedom, the abandonment of collaborative searches for truth (Sacks 2020) and the weakening especially of ecclesial identity.

Lastly, managerialism in education is also a cause of concern (McKinney and Sullivan 2013; Ginsberg 2011). It has been argued that the rise of managerialism is linked with the prevalence of secular liberalism which causes public discourse regarding what constitutes the human good to be relegated to the private sphere (Williams 2012). The resulting vacuum in the public sphere is filled by preoccupation with issues such as compliance procedures, performance metrics and audit trails (Conway 2015).

In response to these developments, Catholic educators are exploring creative ways to re-affirm the unique value and contribution Catholic schools and universities can make to the common good and thus to re-positioning Catholic education in plural and multi-cultural contexts. New trans-national forms of collaboration and co-operation between Catholic educators have been formed, and exciting theories of Catholic education based not only upon the Catholic tradition but also upon high quality contemporary empirical research are emerging.

Renewed efforts are underway to demonstrate how Christian anthropology, at the heart of which is the understanding of human beings as imago Dei, provides a unique counterbalance to educational theories and curricular policies that tend to reduce education to the ‘the logic of the economy’ (Boeve 2006). It is argued that such reductionisms reveal not only a truncated understanding of what it is to be human but also of what it is to truly educate. Strengthening and fostering Catholic education in this new and challenging environment requires the inter-disciplinary co-operation of thought-leaders, religious educators, philosophers, theologians and researchers in the social sciences in order to generate creative and integrated responses.  This new and challenging context for Catholic education is the focus of this Special Issue of Religions.

Of particular interest are original research papers that explore the following topics:

  • The self-perception, mission and identity of Catholic education;
  • Catholic education since Vatican II: developments and emphases;
  • Do secular states have a legal and/or moral duty to provide for faith-based education?
  • Secularist challenges to Catholic education;
  • New approaches to encouraging religious literacy among teachers and managers in Catholic schools;
  • Developing and maintaining spiritual capital in Catholic schools and universities;
  • Catholic approaches to and curricular developments in mental health, mindfulness, wellbeing and resilience education;
  • Catholic sources for and policy responses to inclusion, diversity and equality policies in education;
  • Innovative approaches to teaching the Christian virtues in secular and multicultural contexts;
  • Distinctively Catholic perspectives on ecological education that challenge the ‘technocratic paradigm’;
  • Catholic education and contemporary biblical scholarship;
  • Catholic education in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue concerning ‘fraternal humanism’;
  • Catholic social teaching and integral humanism in the Catholic school;
  • Catholic (re-)sources for justice, forgiveness and reconciliation education;
  • What detraditionalized cultural contexts can ‘receive’ concerning Catholic education from the global south.

The editor particularly encourages the submission of papers that have been co-authored by emerging and early-career researchers working in collaboration with scholars already established in their respective fields of expertise.

References:

Lieven Boeve. The Identity of a Catholic University in Post-Christian European Societies: Four Models. Louvain Studies 31: 238–58.

Richard Byrne and Dympna Devine. 2018. ‘Catholic Schooling with a Twist?’: a Study of Faith Schooling in the Republic of Ireland during a Period of Detraditionalization. Cambridge Journal of Education 48: 4461–477.

Eamonn Conway. 2015. Vatican II on Christian Education: A Guide through Today’s ‘Educational Emergency’. In Ireland & Vatican II, Edited by Niall Coll. Dublin: Columba Press, pp. 253–273.

Benjamin Ginsberg. 2011. The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why it Matters. Oxford: OUP.

Alisdair MacIntyre. 2006. The End of Education: The Fragmentation of the American University. Commonweal 133: 10–14.

Stephen McKinney and John Sullivan. 2013. Education in Catholic Perspective. Surrey: Ashgate.

Denis O’Sullivan. 2005. Cultural Politics and Irish Education since the 1950s. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, p. 112.

Rowan Williams. 2012. Faith in the Public Square, London: Bloomsbury.

Quentin Wodon. 2020. Global Catholic Education Report 2020: Achievements and Challenges at a Time of Crisis. Rome: International Office of Catholic Education.

Jonathan Sacks. 2020. Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times. London: Hodder & Stoughton, p. 173.

Prof. Dr. Eamonn Conway
Guest Editor

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Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 307 KiB  
Article
Material Wealth or Wealth of Time and Culture? Lessons from Australian Aboriginal Economy for Catholic Social Teaching
by Matthew C. Ogilvie
Religions 2024, 15(3), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030325 - 8 Mar 2024
Viewed by 741
Abstract
This paper will explicate ways in which Aboriginal Australian economy can inform, augment, and vindicate Catholic social teaching and related scholarship on work, the use of technology, and leisure. Collaterally, Aboriginal Australian economy gives an example of what could happen if key parts [...] Read more.
This paper will explicate ways in which Aboriginal Australian economy can inform, augment, and vindicate Catholic social teaching and related scholarship on work, the use of technology, and leisure. Collaterally, Aboriginal Australian economy gives an example of what could happen if key parts of Catholic social teaching were to be implemented concretely. That is, we can argue that Aboriginal economy gives an indication of what a society would be like if it adopted these parts of Catholic social teaching. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Education in Detraditionalised Cultural Contexts: Volume II)
14 pages, 248 KiB  
Article
In Altum—“Put Out into the Deep”: A Formation Program for Missionary Discipleship for Students at the University of Notre Dame Australia
by John Topliss, Thomas V. Gourlay and Reginald Mary Chua
Religions 2024, 15(2), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15020147 - 24 Jan 2024
Viewed by 864
Abstract
While there is a significant body of research concerning Catholic faith formation in a variety of educational contexts around the world, relatively little attention has been devoted to the notion of missionary discipleship as a foundation for Catholic formation. Recently, the National Catholic [...] Read more.
While there is a significant body of research concerning Catholic faith formation in a variety of educational contexts around the world, relatively little attention has been devoted to the notion of missionary discipleship as a foundation for Catholic formation. Recently, the National Catholic Education Commission, in its document Leading Formation for Mission, also elaborates a solid definition of formation and stated: ‘Formation is imaginative, creative and honours adult learning principles […] It engages the ‘intellect’ and is nurtured by appropriate theological content and it engages the ‘Spirit’ and is characterised by contemplation and action for mission’ (2022). This paper seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of formation for missionary discipleship by presenting an evaluation of the efficacy of In Altum, a student-focussed ministry and leadership program developed at the University of Notre Dame Australia in response to the developing magisterial teaching concerning the notion of ‘missionary discipleship’. In particular, we examine participants’ personal faith development, understanding of missionary discipleship on campus, preparation for future ministry, and understanding of contemporary challenges to discipleship. The study progresses in three parts: First, it provides a brief background to In Altum, including the philosophical and sociological context, as well as the key theological principles underpinning the formation offered within the program. Second, following an overview of the mixed-methodology approach taken in the study, which details both the use of qualitative and quantitative data derived from focus groups and an online survey, the paper presents the results of the study, which sought to investigate the efficacy of the program as it pertained to the following: (a) the building of (personal subjective assessment of) faith in participants; (b) the building of participants’ understanding of, and confidence in, the task of evangelisation as missionary discipleship in a secularised context; (c) building a strengthened sense of community amongst the participants. In the third and final section, the reported strengths and weaknesses of the program are examined. The paper also comments on implications for the program on the culture of the university more broadly, including precepts of the program’s findings that may be applied in light of the Australian Catholic Plenary Council’s findings to enhance the future directions of formation programs in the Catholic University Chaplaincy, with possible application to Catholic secondary schools and parish youth groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Education in Detraditionalised Cultural Contexts: Volume II)
20 pages, 956 KiB  
Article
Will There Be Teachers? An Analysis of the Congruence of Religious Beliefs of Initial Teacher Education Students and the Patron’s (Religious Education) Programme for Catholic Schools
by Daniel O’Connell, Maurice Harmon and Amalee Meehan
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1467; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121467 - 27 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1185
Abstract
For historical reasons, the vast majority of primary schools in the Republic of Ireland are under the patronage of the Catholic church. Patronage involves a number of responsibilities, including the provision of a Patron’s Programme. Traditionally in the form of Religious Education (RE), [...] Read more.
For historical reasons, the vast majority of primary schools in the Republic of Ireland are under the patronage of the Catholic church. Patronage involves a number of responsibilities, including the provision of a Patron’s Programme. Traditionally in the form of Religious Education (RE), such programmes should satisfy the curricular requirement for religious/ethical education and act as an expression of school ethos. In order to meet this responsibility, the Irish Episcopal conference in 2015 published its first curriculum in Religious Education, which forms the basis for the Grow in Love programme for pupils from Junior Infants to Sixth Class in all Catholic primary schools. However, effective teaching and learning of RE is dependent on the ‘buy in’ of those teaching it. The religious beliefs, understandings, and practices of those teaching RE are influential in this regard. Drawing from the data of a large-scale, multi-phase study, this paper describes the religious identity and beliefs of first-year students entering an Initial Teacher Education programme in Ireland—in this case, the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree—to qualify as primary-level teachers. It situates the data in the wider context of religious identity and beliefs in Ireland and goes on to explore how the religious profiles of these students fit with the required understanding, knowledge and ability to teach Religious Education in Catholic schools. Findings indicate that the majority of these students identify as Catholic and believe in God. For most, God is important in their lives. However, there is a complexity to these beliefs, with a significant number who do not know what to think. This paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for the teaching of Religious Education and for the patrons of Catholic schools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Education in Detraditionalised Cultural Contexts: Volume II)
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11 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
The Journey to G.R.A.C.E: Creating an International Community of Practice
by Christine Robinson, Linda Cranley and Daniel O’Connell
Religions 2023, 14(1), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010043 - 27 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1477
Abstract
Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Education (G.R.A.C.E) is a unique Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP methodology was applied within G.R.A.C.E for its capacity to connect multi-disciplinary and international academics and practitioners within Catholic Education. This paper presents key insights gathered from the G.R.A.C.E [...] Read more.
Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Education (G.R.A.C.E) is a unique Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP methodology was applied within G.R.A.C.E for its capacity to connect multi-disciplinary and international academics and practitioners within Catholic Education. This paper presents key insights gathered from the G.R.A.C.E steering committee regarding their perspectives on the journey of initiating this unique CoP. A small qualitative research project framed within a phenomenological interpretivist theoretical perspective was employed to ascertain the participants’ hopes, experiences, impact as well as challenges and opportunities. A Qualtrics questionnaire was the selected data collection method. Findings suggest that the experience of G.R.A.C.E has been a positive one, affirming the CoP methodology adopted was effective in ensuring the hopes that members held for the CoP were actualised. Challenges and opportunities identified in the findings provide insight into the future direction of this truly global initiative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Education in Detraditionalised Cultural Contexts: Volume II)

Review

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13 pages, 291 KiB  
Review
Mindfulness in Catholic Primary Schools: An Irish Perspective
by Thomas Carroll
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1348; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111348 - 25 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1402
Abstract
Irish Catholic primary education operates within a context increasingly marked by detraditionalisation and secularisation. As religious belief and identity recedes in Ireland, Catholic schools face challenges in enabling the children they serve to develop a personal relationship with God and nurturing their faith [...] Read more.
Irish Catholic primary education operates within a context increasingly marked by detraditionalisation and secularisation. As religious belief and identity recedes in Ireland, Catholic schools face challenges in enabling the children they serve to develop a personal relationship with God and nurturing their faith formation and development, an important element of the mission of the Catholic school. At the same time, mindfulness practice has grown exponentially in popularity across many sectors of society, including in Irish education. A growing body of research supports mindfulness practice in schools, citing benefits such as improved academic performance and enhanced wellbeing. This review examines the development of mindfulness practice in Irish Catholic primary schools. Curricular reform in primary education regarding the growing role of wellbeing is explored. The review also addresses opportunities and challenges to mindfulness practice in these schools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Education in Detraditionalised Cultural Contexts: Volume II)
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