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MICís newest postgraduate degree addresses gap in religious education in Ireland

Posted on May 7, 2019

Religious education is, now more than ever, an area of intense public debate and a key issue in contemporary educational agendas. Mary Immaculate College (MIC), recognising the gap in religious education provision in Ireland, is delighted to announce that applications are now being accepted for its two-year, part-time M Ed in Religious Education. 

This Level 9 postgraduate degree offered by the Department of Learning, Society and Religious Education at MIC, draws on the specialist expertise at the College in the area of Religious Education and the complementary discipline of Theology and Religious Studies.

According to Dr Maurice Harmon, Head of Department of Learning, Society, and Religious Education (Acting) and lecturer in Religious Education; ‘There has been a lacuna in respect of the lack of available postgraduate programmes that seek to enhance and develop religious education as an academic discipline in Ireland. Recent global discourse on this matter in Ireland and elsewhere highlight the urgent need to develop the religious literacy of educators at both primary and post-primary level. There is need for the development of programmes that contribute to the professional and learning development of those involved in religious education in its various contexts and approaches, and who can contribute to research in the field The M Ed in Religious Education at MIC is proposed as a response to this need and context.’

Dr Harmon adds that as Ireland has become a more religiously plural and diverse society, the M Ed in Religious Education programme creates a space to explore the nature, purpose and place of religious education at this time. He says the programme will contribute to the professional development of those involved in religious education in its various contexts and approaches, as well examining how pupils can be empowered to take ownership of their own religious identity through a holistic approach across the curriculum, both formal and informal.

In elucidating the importance of this programme Dr Harmon refers to the insights of Professor John O’Sullivan, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies at Liverpool Hope University regarding religious education. Professor O’Sullivan posits that religious education is a rich and complex academic discipline. He highlights the important role it plays in developing religious literacy, identity and imagination; promoting creative and critical thinking; offering a space for questioning and reflection; and fostering spiritual development, respect, openness, empathy and justice. Religious education provides, O’Sullivan says, a space for dialogue and encounter between faith traditions and people of different belief traditions and has multiple dimensions and diverse and often contradictory expectations placed upon it.

Dr Maurice Harmon goes on to say;‘Religious Education is about uncovering sources that help people flourish and thrive, in an attempt to live a life characterised by freedom, purpose and value. As such teachers and educators, who participate on the M Ed in Religious Education, will augment their understanding of religious education in the contemporary classroom and become religious education leaders in their schools.’

Participants on this programme will also develop a critical awareness of the diverse perspectives in approaches, policy and contexts in the field of religious education. They will also develop creative and reflective teaching strategies that support learning in, from and about religion. The programme also allows for participants to formulate a framework for reflection on their own personal, spiritual, theological, moral and professional development as religious educators in faith-based and other educational environments.

The M Ed in Religious Education is a two-year part-time programme and will be delivered in a face to face format.  The taught components of the programme will take place mainly in Year 1.  The modules will facilitate critical analysis of the nature, purpose and place of Religious Education from an international and national perspective, explore areas for research in the area, as well as reflecting on the importance of leadership within the curricular area. Core modules include Religious Education; Approaches, Policy and Contexts; Religious Education and Inter-Belief Dialogue; Religious Education and the Search for God; Scripture and the Sacraments and New Testament Christology.

Application deadline 31st of May.

More information and application procedures available here

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