Learning in Encounter

Crossroads, Connections, Collaborations

REA Annual Meeting 2017

3-5 November, St. Louis, Missouri

REA2017 Call for Proposals

The May 1st deadline for proposals has past, we look forward to seeing you in November. This is the official call for the meeting.

“Encounter is the key term for formation of the self.”

Beyza Bilgin, “Kültürlerarası Din Eğitiminin İmkanı.”

“When children and their teachers encounter the religion of other people it is like 
meeting another world. The same is true of the situation in which one meets a disabled

John M. Hull, “Religious Education as Encounter from Body Worlds to Religious Worlds.”

“Religion and indeed religious education celebrates the encounter between the world of the human and the divine, and if (Martin) Buber is correct, its focus ought not primarily to be on the question as to our knowledge of God but rather on the challenge of exploring the counters of our relationship with God.”

Eoin G. Cassidy, “Journeying Towards the Other: A Challenge for Religious, Spiritual and Moral Education.”

“Mutual understanding and common action can only be based on a common language. This language is more than a command of words and rules of grammar. Its aim is to explore the horizons of understanding that are linked with the key terms.”

“İslamiyet Hıristiyanlık Kavramları Sözlüğü.”

An encounter is simply a meeting between persons. In the context of religious education, an encounter is a meeting between persons of different religions and faiths in dialogical openness and relationship. A real encounter is a meeting between people where each treats the other as a full human being. Sometimes the word “encounter” refers to becoming reflective of one’s religious stance, background, and biography seen in the mirror of another person (Miedema, Religious Education as Encounter, 13). In this sense an encounter can be real life religious education with two complementary learnings: learning self and other.

Religious education is one of the very important ways to realize encounters. In many multireligious societies religious education has the task of helping pupils learn the skills which will enable them to deal not only with their own religious tradition but with difference and diversity among religions and worldview orientations.

Thus, religious education can pave the way to imagine what might be gained if people of different faiths worked together to define themselves in relation to one another rather than opposition. Religious education as a school subject can also foster mutual understanding, honesty, trust, openness, and respect. It can create a space of exchanging ways of listening to one’s own (inner) word; the words of others; the word of things and of circumstances; and the Word of the Ultimate Being. Religious education can encourage critical and responsible ways of responding to many aspects of life in today’s pluralistic world.

These sorts of interactions do not develop easily, but take deliberate effort and continual reflection. Ultimately, a religious education encounter in multireligious societies can and should be a meeting of persons who are greatly committed to their own faith traditions and who are open to intercultural, interreligious and global perspectives.

A number of important questions emerge during the process of learning in encounter:

  • How do we deal with differences?
  • What does it mean to come from a different background? How do I answer those who ask about my faith? How do I explain my values and why I live as I do?
  • How can we truly encounter neighbour religions and how can my tradition help me to see them truly?
  • How do we provide knowledge through encounter? Which theological, educational, and philosophical foundations should our learning be based on?
  • How can religious education assist the young to articulate meanings from their own lived experiences as they encounter those of others?
  • How can we bring our shared experiences and notions of humanity together in order to interact with one another? What practices should we reward and what practices should we discourage?
  • What does it mean to participate in peaceful community relations?
  • How can religious studies in universities and religious education in schools address issues of gender, being disabled, sexual orientations, and religion and belief?

You are invited to reflect on the theme of encounter in religious education in relation to your own work.


  • Bilgin, Beyza. “Kültürlerarası Din Eğitiminin İmkanı.” In Kültürel Çeşitlilik ve Din,(Cultural Diversity and Religion) edited by Remziye Yılmaz, 101-119. Ankara: Sinemis, 2005
  • Cassidy, Eoin G. “Journeying Towards the Other: A Challenge for Religious, Spiritual and Moral Education.” In International Handbook of the Religious, Moral and Spiritual Dimensions in Education, Part two, edited by Marian de Souza, Kathleen Engebretson, Gloria Durka, Robert Jackson, Andrew McGrady, 869-885. The Netherlands: Springer, 2006
  • Hull, John M. “Religious Education as Encounter from Body Worlds to Religious Worlds.” In Religious Education as Encounter: A Tribute to John M. Hull, edited by Siebren Miedema, 21-35. Münster: Waxmann, 2009
  • Islamiyet-Hıristiyanlık Kavramları Sözlüğü. (Basic Terms in Christianity and Islam with the collaboration of Ankara University and Eugen Biser Stiftung) Edited by Mualla Selçuk, Halis Albayrak, Peter Antes, Richard Heinzmann, Martin Thurner, 17. Ankara: 2013


Contact Mualla Selçuk, REA Annual Meeting 2017 Program Chair, rea2017 [at] religiouseducation [dot] net.

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