Work Groups are members who agree to collaborate together. They meet as part of the Annual Meeting, but they also conduct their work in a variety of ways during the year. Presenters for the Work Group sessions at the Annual Meeting are chosen by each group or by conveners of the sessions. New Work Groups may be initiated by request of members. (see Bylaws IX.1.c) New Work Groups might start as a scheduled or informal conversation among several members at the Annual Meeting who then decide to continue and expand their work to include others who might be interested.
Here is what was planned for discussion (we do not yet have notes from what occurred) during the 2016 annual meeting:
• AANARE (coordinator: Narola McFayden)
The Asians and Asian North America Religious Educator (AANARE) Work Group welcomes everybody who is interested in the exploration, development, and enhancement of Asian/Asian North American perspectives in religious education. As a Working Group of the REA/APRRE, we gather to provide one another collegial support and to stimulate thinking and discussion for the generation of new scholarship and resources. One of our first projects is this bibliography of religious education scholarship published by Asian and Asian North American religious educators.
• Black Experience (coordinator: Yolanda Smith)
After time for introductions and checking-in, work group members will discuss the following questions: What do we as Pan African Scholars in religious education have to say regarding the 2016 annual meeting theme of the Generating Hope? and How might we respond both personally and through our churches/educational institutions to globalization in education?
• Religious Persecution, Vicarious Trauma (coordinators: Sarah Tauber and Jennifer Haddad Mosher)
In keeping with this year’s examination of generating hope, the Religious Persecution, the Vicarious Trauma work group will examine a number of artistic responses to suffering in the wake of persecution. Using examples from Middle Eastern Christian and Eastern European Jewish communities, we’ll explore how visual imagery and material space can be used pedagogically, rather than as a means of separation and segregation, as tools to educate towards common imaginative and healing responses to suffering. This will be an interactive session where we will present images as a means for stimulating conversation about the subject
• Peace & Justice (coordinator: Harold (Bud) Horell)
After introductions and general discussion, the Peace and Justice Work Group will discuss possible ways of engaging the theme for the 2016 REA Annual Meeting, potential collaborative projects with other task forces, and brainstorm about other ways of highlighting the importance of education for peace and justice within and beyond the REA.
• Senior Scholars (coordinator: Bob O’Gorman)
In preparation for our meeting in Pittsburgh we are asking for a one page statement posted to the work group site by September 15. All senior members are invited to contribute even if unable to attend the November meeting.
Bob O’Gorman, the moderator, will prepare an item analysis of the statements and send it out in preparation for our discussion at the November meeting.
• Science & Technology (coordinator: Dean Blevins)
The Science and Technology Work Group explores new scientific advances and technological innovations in relation to the discipline of religious education. This year the group will discuss the role of social media in the classroom and discuss possible presentations in light of next year’s conference theme.
• Religion and Education (coordinators: Ryan Gardner and Callid Keefe-Perry)
Since its beginning The Schools Work Group explored the ways that schools can be an ecological support of all religious traditions, and how they can be a place and vehicle for growing intellectually probing, critically discerning, and spiritually oriented souls and citizens. In 2016 the Schools Work Group met with members of the Religion and Education Collaborative (REC) to learn about what the REC does and to discuss ways in which the Work Group and REC might mutually benefit from one another. Given that a number of REA members were already active in the REC, the idea was received well and those present agreed that involvement in the REC would be positive. The decision was made that “The Schools Work Group” would change its name to “The Religion and Education Work Group” and carry out its meetings at annual REA meetings as part of the REC. REA members were encouraged to join the REC given that membership is free and allows people to participate in the regular online seminars and discussions, connect to other scholars interested in the study of religion and schools, and get access to information about grants related to schools, religion, and educational research. Discussion was had about the possibility of the REC hosting a day-long pre-conference in advance of the annual REA meeting in 2018, with the intent to invite participants from the broader REC community to participate in conversations at REA as well. Our meeting ended with hopes that we would all see each other online soon via an REC video meeting.