Ethics, religion and values in education

Ethics, religion and values in education

The School of Education has sustained demonstrable research strengths in the fields of philosophy of education, religion and education, and religious education, and includes the work of Jim Conroy, Bob Davis, Catherine Doherty, Penny Enslin, Leonard Franchi, Nicki Hedge and Stephen McKinney. These contributions illuminate issues of ethics, values, character and morality across school curriculum, classroom pedagogy, childhood and teacher education. These bodies of scholarship are distinguished by rigorous attention to the history of ideas, metatheory, principled scholarly reasoning, and theory building applied to contemporary issues. This scholarship underpins the broader school strength in social justice and equity studies.  

As the key institution preparing teachers of religious education for Scotland’s Catholic schools, the school hosts a critical mass of scholars in theology, religion and pedagogy and their interactions with culture, politics and education. Their expertise is recognised in an international handbook chapter on Religious Education. The large project ‘Does Religious Education work?’ (2007-2010), led by Jim Conroy and Bob Davis, and jointly funded by the ESRC and AHRC), has continued to generate new publications, and a follow-up study for Character Scotland led by Jim Conroy. Attention to religious formation implicates questions around liberalism and post-liberalism, secularism and post-secularism, religious literacy and illiteracy and the expression of these different orientations in the school curriculum and its possible futures.

The school’s research in the philosophy of education takes controversies about understanding education itself as central, especially in the face of contemporary neoliberal influences on policy and practice. The focus on ethics and justice addresses a range of problems to do with social and global justice in education, in interpreting what education is particularly in a global context, who gets what education, delivered by what means, and where on the globe. This incorporates themes of inclusion and exclusion; the ethics of internationalisation; postcolonial relationships in the distribution of educational goods; feminist ethics; citizenship; sex education; capabilities; caring; and autonomy.