Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Learning about religion is an essential component of a well-rounded education because religion is an important cultural, social, and political phenomenon. A sophisticated level of religious literacy is necessary for people to interact in today’s religiously plural and secularising society. The Congregation for Catholic Education (2013) reminds schools of their great responsibility for participating in intercultural education based on dialogue (para 50).

This unit is based on the assumption that global peace and justice as well as social cohesion and intercultural education are only possible if there is informed understanding and acceptance of religion in the community based on knowledge and reflective critique.

Students will investigate the history and development of the Catholic Church’s foray into inter-religious engagement. They will examine and critique methods of teaching for inter-religious understanding in the contemporary classroom which ultimately forms the foundation for inter-religious understanding in a pluralist society.

The aim of this unit is to enhance levels of religious literacy by engaging with approaches and methods for developing inter-religious understanding and inter-religious education. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe and explain foundational issues in religious diversity and education and specifically in religious education (GA1; APST 1.3 Lead)

LO2 - Interpret and analyse the Catholic Church’s stance on inter-religious engagement including the study of key Church documents since the Second Vatican Council (GA3; APST 3.1 Lead)

LO3 - Examine the work of scholars whose work focuses on inter-religious understanding (GA4; APST 3.4 Lead)

LO4 - Explain and apply range of methodological approaches used to educate for inter-religious understanding (GA5; APST 2.1 Lead, 3.3 Lead)

LO5 - Interpret and implement a range of approaches and methodologies for teaching of inter-religious understanding in curriculum documents (GA8; APST 3.2 Lead, 4.1 Lead).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Lead

On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.3 - Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds (Lead)

Evaluate and revise school learning and teaching programs, using expert and community knowledge and experience, to meet the needs of students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

2.1 - Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area (Lead)

Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

3.1 - Establish challenging learning goals (Lead)

Demonstrate exemplary practice and high expectations and lead colleagues to encourage students to pursue challenging goals in all aspects of their education.

3.2 - Plan, structure and sequence learning programs (Lead)

Exhibit exemplary practice and lead colleagues to plan, implement and review the effectiveness of their learning and teaching programs to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

3.3 - Use teaching strategies (Lead)

Work with colleagues to review, modify and expand their repertoire of teaching strategies to enable students to use knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.

3.4 - Select and use resources (Lead)

Model exemplary skills and lead colleagues in selecting, creating and evaluating resources, including ICT, for application by teachers within or beyond the school.

4.1 - Support student participation (Lead)

Demonstrate and lead by example the development of productive and inclusive learning environments across the school by reviewing inclusive strategies and exploring new approaches to engage and support all students.


Topics will include:

  • Foundational issues in religious diversity, education, and religious education.
  • The interpretation and critical analysis of the Catholic Church’s theology of inter- religious engagement including the study of key Church documents that deal with inter-religious acceptance and understanding.
  • Investigation of inter-religious understanding from the perspective of various scholars e.
  • A range of methodological approaches used for educating for inter-religious understanding
  • The interpretation and implementation of approaches and methodologies for teaching for inter-religious understanding in curriculum documents.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode (i.e. delivered online and in face-to-face contexts) and uses an active learning approach to support students to develop a sophisticated level of religious literacy necessary for teaching in today’s religiously plural and secularising society. Students are able to explore the essential knowledge related to interreligious education and dialogue through a series of online asynchronous interactive sessions. Students also have the opportunity to attend synchronous online sessions to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge. This approach allows flexibility for students who are largely engaged in full-time work.

Where required by cohorts, part or all of the unit could be delivered face-to-face with students engaging in lectures and workshops as well as students accessing digital resources and activities available through the LEO site.

This learning and teaching strategy will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and the strategy is responsive to the diverse contexts of individual students and cohorts.

This is a 10 credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete and submit two graded assessment tasks.

The assessment strategy used allows students to progressively develop their knowledge, understanding and analytical skills to the level of sophistication where they are able to commence with the basic skills of describing and explaining foundational issues related to religious diversity and education, and then interpret and critically analyse the Catholic Church’s theology of inter-religious engagement with reference to key Church documents. The unit also challenges students to investigate the works and approaches of key scholars in this area, to identify methodological approaches to inter-religious learning and to apply these to the religious education teaching context.

In order to develop this level of creativity the first assessment focuses on an extended writing task where students articulate and interpret foundational issues linked to religious diversity and education based on the writings of key authors in the field or they critically analyse key church documents on interreligious engagement and assess their impact on religious education in contemporary classrooms.

In the second task, they respond to selected stimulus quotes on interreligious dialogue and education, and critique one or more approaches to inter-religious education in the light of religious education curriculum documents and/or the Toledo Principles. In both tasks, there is a deliberate emphasis on theory and classroom praxis.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Extended writing task. Research essay focusing on either foundational issues in religious diversity and education based on the writings of education scholars such as Herman’s, Boys and REDCO or an analysis of how the Catholic Church’s theology of interreligious engagement has changed since the Second Vatican Council and the impacts this has had on the teaching and learning of religious education 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA3

Assessment Task 2

Response to Stimulus Quotes and Critical Analysis – Students respond to stimuli from various scholars in the field as a foundation for critiquing existing models for inter-religious education or use the stimuli as the basis for designing an approach to enhance inter-religious understanding in their current school setting.


LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Asian, E. & Hermansen, M. (eds). (2021). Religious diversity at school: Education for new pluralistic contexts. Springer ebook

Avci, B. (2018). Comparative theology: An alternative to religious studies or theology of religions?

Boys, M. C. (2010). The promise and perils of inter-religious education. Toronto Journal of Theology, 26(1), 21-32.

Buchanan, M.T, & Gellel, A (eds), (2019). Global perspectives on Catholic religious education in schools. Vol II Learning and leading in a pluralist world. Springer.

Carmody, B. (2013). Pedagogy for inter-religious education. The Heythrop Journal, 54(5), 813–824.

Kolb, J. (2021). Modes of interreligious learning within pedagogical practice: An analysis of interreligious approaches in Germany and Austria. Religious Education 116 (2). 142-156.

Kors, A., Weisse, W., Willaime, J. (eds). (2020). Religious diversity and interreligious dialogue. Springer ebook

McCowan, T. (2017). Building bridges rather than walls: Research into an experiential model of interfaith education in secondary schools. British Journal of Religious Education. Vol 39 (3). 269-278.

Thatamanil, J. J. (2020). Circling the elephant: A comparative theology of religious diversity. Fordham University Press. ebook

Wielzen, D. R. & Avest, I. (eds) (2017). Interfaith education for all theoretical perspectives and best practices for transformative action. Springer Education eBook

Parker, S., Freathy, R., & Francis, L., (Eds.). (2012). Religious education: A foundation for freedom of religion and belief. Exford: Peter Lang

Phan, P. (2016). Pathways for inter-religious dialogue in the twenty-first century. Dordrecht: Springer

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