The event marked only the third time ISREV has convened in England
The 23rd International Seminar on Religious Education and Values (ISREV) conference was held at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) in Lincoln.
The biennial event, which took place from Sunday 30th July to Friday 4th August, brought together over 80 religious education scholars and specialists from 17 countries to explore the intersection of religion, values, and education amidst the challenges posed by plagues and pandemics.
The conference theme, "Plagues and Pandemics of our Time: Challenges for Religious, Values, and Worldview Education," saw 84 scholars present their papers during the week-long gathering. Attendees participated in plenary meetings and smaller collegial groups, with some members joining online.
The event marked only the third time since its inception that ISREV has convened in England. The choice of Bishop Grosseteste University as the venue for this year's conference was significant, given the university's strong focus on religious education research. Under the leadership of Professor Leslie J Francis and Professor Julian Stern, both key figures within ISREV and the World Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) based at BGU, the institution has become a hub for scholars working in the field of religious education.
Professor Francis, Vice-President of ISREV and Professor of Religions, Education, and Psychology at BGU was one of the 35 scholars present at the first meeting of ISREV in 1978. He said: “With a combined faculty of 47 scholars working in the fields of religious education, WRERU at BGU now has the strongest group of active researchers in religious education within the UK.”
At this year’s conference, Professor Francis delivered a memorial lecture for John Hull, one of ISREV's founding members. He said: “My lecture drew attention to John’s challenge to the churches to step up to the task of providing quality and credible Christian nurture within local congregations.
“After the pandemic, John’s vision for the role of local churches may no longer be sustainable, and the shift of emphasis must now move to the role of family within the home.
“I believe that to sustain a future for the transmission of faith to the next generation, churches now need to concentrate resources on equipping churchgoing parents to step up to the task, collaborating with local churches and church schools."
ISREV is not a faith-based or an inter-faith association. With a diverse membership representing various religious traditions and secular specialists, the organisation seeks to promote high-quality research. The meetings provide an opportunity for scholars from all backgrounds to come together and engage in critical discussions on religious values and education research.
Professor Julian Stern, General Secretary of ISREV and Professor of Education and Religion at BGU said: "Religion, other worldviews, and education cross paths every day, whether in schools or universities, churches, temples, synagogues, or mosques, or homes and local communities.
“There is a body of scholars, now brought together here at BGU, who explore the relationship between a whole range of religious and non-religious worldviews and education. It is only the third time since 1978 that ISREV has met in England, and we are proud to host it BGU.”