First training programme in “Journalism on Religion”

Cluster of Excellence and school of journalism qualify media professionals to deal with religious issues

Press release of January 31, 2020

© ifp

The Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the University of Münster and the ifp Catholic School of Journalism will be offering from autumn 2020 the first in-service training programme in Germany in “Journalism on Religion”. The programme is designed to qualify media professionals to report on religions in pluralized societies in a nuanced and critical manner. The result of cooperation between the ifp Catholic School of Journalism, the Cluster of Excellence, and the Catholic Academy in Berlin, the programme is the first of its kind in the German-speaking world, and will comprise seven modules taught at locations in Germany and abroad that are of relevance to religion.

“Conflicts over issues to do with religious policy have increased in Western societies, while religiosity has declined. The religious landscape has become less clear”, explains legal expert Nils Jansen, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence, and Viola van Melis, head of research communication. “The media have a lasting influence on how religions are perceived in our society. In order to increase specialist knowledge about religious diversity among young journalists, the Cluster of Excellence is participating in the new training programme. By doing so, we can make our daily media work sustainable when it comes to conveying research findings. We hope that this will promote specialist and academic journalism”.

Training programme

As Bernhard Remmers, Journalistic Director of the ifp, explains, the training programme “Journalism on Religion” will qualify journalists to report on the many religious developments and conflicts in Western societies in a professional manner. Participants will learn about religious communities and other communities with different worldviews in Germany, become acquainted with the religious practices of different communities, and visit places of worship as well as sites of interreligious exchange. They will meet representatives and actors from politics and culture, and be taught by scholars from the Cluster of Excellence’s interdisciplinary team of researchers on religion, as well as by renowned religious journalists. To transfer this into journalistic practice, they will try out journalistic genres, sources and research instruments on issues from the field of tension between religion and society.
The programme consists of seven three-day seminar modules with excursions to different locations and, as an additional offer, a study trip at the end of the programme to Jerusalem. Venues are Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Münster, and Vienna. The training programme includes interdisciplinary themes such as: political and social treatment of increasing ideological diversity; challenges posed to religious constitutional law; issues faced by religious communities with regard to faith and lived religiosity; religion in the immigration societies of Europe; dialogue and conflict between different religious communities and other communities with different worldviews; and the role of religions in international conflicts of the past and present. (vvm)