Religious Education in Frankfurt

Religious Education at the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Frankfurt deals with the theory and practice of religious socialization, upbringing, and education from a historical, empirical, comparative, systematic, and action-guiding perspective. Its special profile results from the challenges of a large modern city, in which over two thirds of the population belong either to different denominations and religions or to none at all. Against this background, in our courses special value is placed on the…

  1. History of religious education in modern times in all its facets from pre-school to school and university and to communities and academies etc. (Historical Religious Education).
  2. Description of current educational practice under consideration of all individual teaching prerequisites and social learning contexts (Empirical Religious Education).
  3. Comparative analysis of education systems between various denominations, religions, and countries (Comparative Religious Education).
  4. Systematic clarification of the key questions listed above under consideration of theology, educational science, sociology, and psychology etc. (Systematic Religious Education).
  5. Reflection of action-guiding knowledge for educational work in and with families, schools, communities, and media (Action-based Religious Education).

Even if the Faculty was only founded in 1987, the city can already look back on a long tradition in the training of religious education teachers in Frankfurt. Training for secondary school (grammar school) teachers was already covered from the time of the University’s foundation in 1914 onwards by theology professors and other lecturers at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and from 1967 onwards by the Department of Educational Sciences. The Prussian state moreover dared to undertake an experiment in the area of education policy in the cosmopolitan trade and exhibition city of Frankfurt: The establishment of a teacher training academy, at which from 1926 onwards Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish (!) elementary school teachers were to study together. Even if this experiment eventually failed and the National Socialists moved teacher training in 1934 to Weilburg, it was still the germ cell for the Faculty. This emerged – put in simple terms – from the chairs for theology at the teacher training colleges and the Department of Educational Sciences. In the early days, Dieter Stoodt was head of Protestant Religious Education and from 1990 to 2013 Hans-Günter Heimbrock.

Today, it is increasingly inter-denominational and transnational questions which influence religious education research and teaching at the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Frankfurt. These research interests are complemented by the fact that Goethe University Frankfurt offers broad opportunities for networking and cooperation through its chairs for Islamic, Catholic, and Protestant Religious Education, but also through a wide range of courses in the fields of Jewish Studies and Islamic Studies. In turn, transnational exchange relationships facilitated through mobility, migration, and (new) media, but also through scientific networks and research alliances have long been the focal point of interest in historical sciences and cultural studies. In particular the methods of culture transfer research open up the possibility to expand the proven repertoire of religious education research in this context and to develop future-oriented education concepts for the 21st century.