Interreligious and intercultural education for dialogue, peace and social cohesion
The need for Interreligious and intercultural education in addressing world challenges cannot be over-emphasised, as detailed in the August 2016 special issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning (IRE). As conflicts convulse different countries of the world with spill-over effects into many world regions and various attempts to find ‘solutions’, it seems as though dialogue was never more urgently required, at least since the end of the Cold War. The need for peaceful resolution of these conflicts across cultures and religions in order to restore human dignity and stop loss of life is pressing. Integrating this dialogue and its different facets into interreligious and intercultural education systems and approaches is one way to ensure its sustainability, which is instrumental in building peace and enabling social cohesion.
The guest editors of this special issue, Mohammed Abu-Nimer and Renáta Katalin Smith of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), have compiled a series of five articles which present different perspectives of both the problem of interreligious/intercultural (mis)understanding and the potential of educational initiatives which have been used to respond to them. The first step in overcoming fears of the Other (the other religion, the other culture) requires strengthening self-awareness and empowering internal voices and forces which support respect of diversity. ‘This intra-faith and intracommunity conversation’, the guest editors add in their introduction, ‘is necessary to assert the need for accepting those who hold different perspectives even within the same religious and cultural or national group.’