Religious Literacy and Education Initiative

Teachers raising hands at RLP Summer Institute session

The Religious Literacy and Education Initiative advances the public understanding of religion through active and ongoing support to educators with particular focus on those teaching at the 7-12th grade and community college levels. We provide resources, training, and support to help educators advance religious literacy through core humanities and social science curricula (history, literature, art, social studies) and through traditions-based coursework. In doing so, we are not introducing something new into the existing curricula. Because religion is embedded in all aspects of culture, it is already embedded in the content being taught, and our aim is to help educators identify the religious dimensions of their content and teach it in pedagogically rich and constitutionally sound ways. We believe that by advancing a more complex understanding of the roles religions play in both history and contemporary affairs, educators can train students to be active participants in building a more just and peaceful society.

Training

  • Annual Religious Literacy Summer Institute for Educators at Harvard Divinity School
  • Religious Studies and Education Certificate, offered online through Harvard Extension School
  • Specialized webinars on religious literacy in different disciplines. Sign up for our newsletter to learn about upcoming webinars.
  • On-site training at our partner schools. Contact us for more information.

Resources

The RLP continues to develop and expand a series of open access resources for use by teachers in both traditions-based World Religions classes and in history, the social sciences and other disciplines. They are designed for students in 7-12th grade and community college.

  • Religion profiles offer an introduction to religious traditions that are frequently encountered in world religion, history, and social studies classes.
  • Country profiles offer an introduction to the roles religions play in politics and culture in specific contexts.
  • Case studies explore how religious traditions have responded to topics such as climate change, violence and peace, gender, and being a minority religion in the United States.

Research

Even though religion is embedded in K-12 humanities and social science curriculum standards—as well as in the Common Core Standards—there is no comprehensive information about how religion is taught in public schools in the United States. Drawing on data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the RLP is conducting in-depth research designed to shed light on the scope and nature of education about religion in U.S. public secondary schools.

The project collects data, maps, and analyzes content related to religion and religious diversity, examining both prevalence and the nature of course offerings in over 17,000 schools. The Mapping Project release in fall 2018 will include an interactive web presence and a final report which will offer preliminary conclusions and recommendations to guide future efforts.