How did it become possible? Supranational Ecumenical developments and changes in Religious Education during the 1960s and 1970s
Nyckelord:RELIGIOUS EDUCATION, ECUMENISM, SUPRANATIONAL, FOUCAULT
Existing historiographies of Religious Education (RE) are often written from within national boundaries, reflecting the particular relationship between church and state within those bounded spaces; further, they often focus on the question ‘what happened?’. During the 1960s significant developments took place in the supranational discourse of Christian ecumenism, including the expansion of dialogue between Christians and those of other worldviews (both religious and non-religious) particularly as a result of the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) and the work of the World Council of Churches (established 1948). These supranational ecumenical discourses transcend national boundaries and thus have potential to influence even the most nationally- orientated educational systems. However, their significance has hitherto been overlooked. Using a method derived from the historical work of Michel Foucault, which focuses on the question ‘how did this become possible?’, this paper demonstrates the extent to which an awareness of supranational ecumenical discourses enriches understandings of the development of World Religions Teaching in Religious Education. The English context is used as an exemplar, through a single case study, and the potential of the approach is discussed in relation to other national contexts.