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HYBRID RESEARCH SEMINAR: The political project of secularization and modernization through education reform

CfU is pleased to announce we are hosting a research seminar on March 17, 2022 online and at our Copenhagen Campus. A core question when approaching education as an arena for battles around and negotiations of the political project of secularization is how education reform has functioned as an arena for secularizing efforts and which new educational and pedagogical forms it created. This calls for further exploration of the relation between education politics and secularization politics, a task this seminar takes on to shed light to. The seminar's format is hybrid (possible to participate physically or online) ensuring broad accessibility. Sign up below!

Last modified: 27.01.2022

Research Seminar

The political project of secularization and modernization through education reform

Thursday March 17, 2022, 12.30-18.00 (CET)

Centre for Education Policy Research, Aalborg University, Campus Copenhagen,

 A. C. Meyers Vænge 15, room A 2.1.021, 2450 Copenhagen, Denmark and online through Zoom

 

Since secularization as a research paradigm was increasingly found inadequate from especially the 1990s, historiographic education research has challenged the dominating 20th-century progressive narratives on modern schooling and pointed to how religion has played a role in especially modern European as well as North American educational effort. This has resulted in not least research on how religion, especially in the form of Protestantism, has been used and transformed in the modern civilizing mission of schooling, in nation-building through schooling and in the languages of education, and as such circulated globally. The concepts of modern schooling that developed in Europe and North America from especially the mid-19th century onwards are increasingly recognized as having been part of transforming and reinforcing religion globally from colonialism to present-day politics of globalization (e.g. Popkewitz 2011, Tröhler 2011, Buchardt 2016). Historical scholarship has since especially the 2000s in continuation suggested that the picture of a sharp differentiation, when it comes to divisions between religion and state-driven education and its connected knowledge corpuses in the form of pedagogies and education theory, is not adequate. The relation between religion, education and state also post-19th century developed in a far more complicated manner. Education historical scholarship post Secularization, R. I. P. (Stark 1999) leads to questioning, not if secularization in the meaning of institutional division took place, but rather what secularization as a political project contained: Which strategies? Which technologies? Which forms? Also it invites us to reconsider what research into religion and state within the field of history of education ‒ in interdisciplinary overlaps with political history and historical religion research ‒ has contributed and can continue to contribute.

CfU is pleased to host this seminar and welcome esteemed colleagues. The seminar is part of ”Reforms in Education: A European Research Network” financed by the Swedish Research Council /Vetenskapsrådet  and is hosted by Professor Mette Buchardt, Centre for Education Policy Research, Aalborg University.

 

Program: Thursday March 17, 2022, 12.30-18.00 (CET)

 

12:30-13:15: Mette Buchardt, Aalborg University 

The political project of secularization and modernization through education reform

 

 

13.30-14.30: Susannah Lisbet Wright, Oxford Brookes University

A secularising mission? Moral instruction in English schools, 1890s to 1918

 

 

14:30-15.00: Coffee break

 

 

15.00-16.00: Victoria Smolkin, Wesleyan University

A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: What can the history of Soviet atheism tell us about the secular?

 

 

16.15-17.15: Daniel Tröhler, University of Vienna

Secularization: Misleading Causalities, the Clever Persistence of Religion, and the Birth of Modern Education

 

 

17.15-18:00: End discussion

 

 

Sign up no later than March 4: (indicate if wanting to participate real life or through zoom):

Research assistant Simon Holleufer at simonho@ikl.aau.dk.

 

about the speakers

 

METTE BUCHARDT, AALBORG UNIVERSITY 

The political project of secularization and modernization through education reform

How has education reform functioned as an arena for secularizing efforts and which new educational and pedagogical forms has it created? The opening lecture will address, not if secularization in the meaning of institutional division took place, but rather what secularization as a political project can be said to contain: Which strategies? Which technologies? Which forms? In continuation, the methodological question of how to do historical research that consider education as an arena for battles around and negotiations of the political project of secularization will be addressed: What does it take to “provincialize” modernization in modern history scholarship on secularization- and education-politics?

Bio

Mette Buchardt is Professor and Head of Centre for Education Policy Research, Aalborg University, Aalborg and Copenhagen, Denmark. Her research comprises the interdisciplinary field of welfare- and social-state history, church and theology history and the history of education with an emphasis on 18th to 20th century. 
She specializes in the relation between education- and social reform in the European states, e.g. modernization and secularization, and the influence of migration on welfare state development historically and at present.
Buchardt has been holding visiting professorships and scholarships at e.g. the history departments at University of Jyväskylä, Stockholm University and Umeå University, and at Nordeuropa-Institut, Humboldt University, Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Section for Church History, University of Oslo.

She has published e.g. “Lutheranism and the Nordic States”, U. Puschner & R. Faber (eds.), Luther in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Peter Lang, 2017, “Schooling the Muslim Family: The Danish School System, Foreign Workers, and Their Children from the 1970s to the Early 1990s”, U. Aatsinki, J. Annola, & M. Kaarninen (Eds.), Family, Values, and the Transfer of Knowledge in Northern Societies, 1500-2000 (1 ed., Vol. 10, pp. 283-299). Routledge. Routledge Studies in Cultural History 2019, and has recently contributed to A cultural history of education, Bloomsbury, 2020.

 

SUSANNAH LISBET WRIGHT, OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY

A secularising mission? Moral instruction in English schools, 1890s to 1918

In this paper, I consider what 'secularisation' means for non-religious minorities (secularists) in what was widely assumed to be a predominantly 'Christian' nation, from the 1890s to the end of the First World War. Such minorities have to date received scant attention in historical discussions of secularisation. Yet as much as Christians they sought influence in a range of societal institutions, including schools. Through lobbying, creating teaching aids, and demonstration activity via the Moral Instruction League, they promoted moral instruction as a replacement for or an addition to (Christian) religious instruction. In so doing they aimed to form future citizens. They wanted to shape the ideals and behaviour of children, and through this influence on individuals create a society which accepted that good citizenship did not have to be based on Christianity. However, it does not follow that those involved pursued a unified secularising mission. Activists held different views of the way that their 'secular' morality connected with or challenged religion. They responded in varied ways to critiques from Christian lobbies. Some welcomed overtures from Christians who saw in their programme a means to challenge what they deemed unwarranted and destructive intervention of churches and church personnel in schools. Others rejected such alliances. Examining these nuances and tensions within and in connection with the Moral Instruction League provides the opportunity to consider what 'secularisation' might mean - in connection with schooling at least - for secularist minority groups. 

Bio

Susannah Wright is a Senior Lecturer in Education Studies and Postgraduate Research Tutor in the School of Education, Oxford Brookes University. She joined the School as Research Fellow, in 2007, before becoming a Senior Lecturer in 2009. Her key research and teaching interests relate to the history of education and childhood, with a focus on themes of secularism, and war and peace. From 2014-2019 she was one of three editors of a peer-reviewed journal, History of Education, and in 2020 she was appointed Hon. Secretary of the History of Education Society (UK). Wright’s academic background is as a historian, and she has focused predominantly on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, examining moral education and citizenship, and local studies of education and welfare. Her publications include the monograph - Morality and Citizenship in English Schools. Secular Approaches, 1897-1944, published by Palgrave Macmillan earlier in 2017 and in 2020 was awarded the History of Education Society's Kevin Brehony Prize for the best sole-authored first monograph published in the English language between 2017 and 2019. Current research projects focus on young people, war and peace, both historically through research into organisations that promoted peace among young people from the 1920s to the 1960s, and in the present day through research into remembrance.

 

VICTORIA SMOLKIN, WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY

A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: What can the history of Soviet atheism tell us about the secular?

When the Bolsheviks set out to build a new world in the wake of the Russian Revolution, they expected religion to die off, but soon learned that religion would not die a natural death. The Soviet state used a variety of tools--including education, propaganda, administrative regulation, and violence—to turn its vision of a Communist world without religion into reality. Yet even with its monopoly on ideology and power, the Soviet Communist Party never succeeded in overcoming religion and creating an atheist society. A Sacred Space Is Never Empty shows how, through its engagements with religion, Soviet atheists realized that removing religion from the "sacred spaces" of Soviet life was not enough, and explores the meaning of atheism for religious life, for Communist ideology, and for Soviet politics.

Bio

Victoria Smolkin is Associate Professor of History and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Wesleyan University. She is the author of A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism (Princeton University Press, 2018), awarded Honorable Mention for 2019 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize for the most important contribution to Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies. The Russian translation, Свято место пусто не бывает: История советского атеизма (Москва: НЛО, 2021), was long listed for the Alexander Piatigorsky Literary Prize. She has also authored numerous articles, which have appeared in Kritika, The Russian Review, and in the collections Cosmic Enthusiasm, Into the Cosmos, Formations of Belief, and The Cambridge History of Atheism. She is currently at work on a number of projects: “The Crusade Against Godlessness: Religion, Communism, and the Cold War Order”; “The Wall of Memory: Life, Death, and the Impossibility of History”; and “The World of Tomorrow: Cosmism, Communism, and the Fate of Utopia".

 

DANIEL TRÖHLER, UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA

Secularization: Misleading Causalities, the Clever Persistence of Religion, and the Birth of Modern Education

Put simply, the secularization thesis assumes that the relatively easily demonstrable decline in the social scope of the church over the past 300 years has been reflected in the decline of religion. This thesis presupposes a causal relationship between church and religion, according to which the latter is dependent on the former. In this sense, the church is understood as an institutionalization of religion, which in the course of the last 300 years has come under pressure from other institutionalizations of social and spiritual needs, first the enactments of absolute monarchies since the 17th century and their claim for power and then, foremost, the emerging nation states in the long 19th century.
The paper starts from the assumption that the performances of the nation-states themselves have a sacral character and are at the same time an expression of an educationalized culture, because in order to survive they must necessarily turn people into loyal citizens. Against this background, the thesis of this paper is that, within the framework of the sacralized nation-state, religion has cleverly found a new institution to support and protect it, usually nationally narrowed, but always with imperial ambitions.
In this context, the paper argues, the once most important scientific reflection of the church as an institution, theology, was largely replaced by the doctrine of the soul (in which a soul was presupposed), modern psychology, and ideologically implemented and canonized in modern pedagogy as an academic discipline, usually highly moralistic, smart-aleck arguing, mercilessly opinionated, and always aimed at institutional and public recognition.

Bio

Daniel Tröhler is Professor of Foundations of Education at the University of Vienna and Visiting Professor at the University of Oslo since 2018. His research interests include the international and transnational developments of the last 250 years and relating the history of modern ideas to the history of institutions in the context of a broader cultural history by focusing on political and educational ideas and their materialization in school laws, curricula, and textbooks, comparing different national and regional developments and investigating their possible mutual influences. He received the American Education Research Association's Outstanding Book of the Year Award in 2012 for Languages of Education: Protestant Legacies, National Identities, and Global Aspirations (Routledge, 2011). His recent publications include being volume editor of A Cultural History of Education in the Age of Enlightenment (Bloomsbury, 2020), guest-editor of the special issue Education, "Doing Nation," Nation Building and the Development of National Literacies (Croatian Journal of Education, 2020), and lead editor of the World Yearbook of Education: Education, Schooling and the Global Universalization of Nationalism (Routledge, 2022, together with Nelli Piattoeva and William F. Pinar) and The Nordic Education Model. Historical Emergence, Comparative Perspectives, and Current Renegotiations (Routledge, 2022, together with Bernadette Hörmann, Sverre Tveit, Inga Bostadt). Currently he is working on an edited volume Education, Curriculum and Nation-Building: Contributions of Comparative Education to the Understanding of Nations and Nationalism (Routledge, 2023).