Innovative Religious Education NEtwork: educating to the religious diversity

The Project

”IRENE - Innovative Religious Education NEtwork: educating to the religious diversity”, as its name implies, wants to be a network, a set of mutually complementary organizations from different sectors and backgrounds of religious education, with the necessary experience to successfully address all aspects required by a Strategic Partnerships in the field of adult education (KA204) under the ERASMUS+ program.

Who we are

Partners of the IRENE project are six, three are recognized universities: the Institute of Theology of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, the University of Eastern Finland and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Two are nonprofit organizations: the Vasiliada Association, established under the patronage of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Oltenia, Romania and the Regional Development Foundation (Bulgaria), an official partner of the European Commission and of the Faculty of Theology at Sofia University. The Institute of Ecumenical Studies "San Bernardino" of the St. Anthony Province of the Friars Minor can be defined as a synthesis of the two types.

1. Asociatia Vasiliada (Craiova, Romania)

2. L'Aristotelio Panepistimio Thessaloniki (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki - School of Theology) (Thessaloniki, Greece)

3. Regional Development Foundation (Vidin - Sofia, Bulgaria)

4. University of Eastern Finland (Kuopio/Joensuu, Finland)

5. EELK Usuteaduse Instituut (Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church - Institute of Theology) (Tallinn, Estonia)

6. Istituto di Studi Ecumenici “San Bernardino” (Venice, Italy)



The IRENE project is dedicated to people with professional experience and/or formation in the field of religious education and education to dialogue


Religion teachers

Active members of religious communities or parishes



Pastoral workers and animators

Workers in the field of international cooperation


Members of organizations in the civil society


To facilitate the exchange of experiences, transfer of knowledges and innovative methods in religious education

To improve teaching methods on religious diversity and multiculturalism

To increase digital, social and multicultural skills of participants

To promote interfaith practices to address, educate on religious diversity and social inclusion at the local level

To encourage those involved in religious education to play an active role in society

To create strategic partnerships and real cooperation among the partners of the project.

Expected results

🔥 Creation of conditions for the exchange of experiences and sharing of innovative, best practices in religious education among the institutes and participants in the project.ell'insegnamento della religione tra gli Istituti e i partecipanti coinvolti nel progetto

🔥 Increased knowledge (historical, cultural, theological) of existing denominations, religions existing in partner countries, cities, communities

🔥 Increased skills (leadership, multiculturalism, social activities, learning skills, etc.) of participants to enable them to work in the field of religious diversity and social inclusion at the local level

🔥 Improved interfaith practice of those directly and indirectly involved in the project

🔥 Improved knowledge of contents, terms and languages when working in ecumenical and interreligious field

🔥 Improvement of education in the context of religious diversity care/welfare enviroment and in the local communities in general * New insights, methods in teaching religion.

🔥 New insights, methods in teaching religion.

🔥 Sharing of a new approach to cultural and religious pluralism by researchers and educators participating in the project (helping interpretation of religious diversity with appropriate language and categories to prevent any form of discrimination and/or racism)

🔥 Establishment of long-term strategic partnership between representatives of partner organizations and participants involved directly or indirectly in the project.

Project development

Strategic Partnerships within the ERASMUS+ program promotes the realization of innovative, tangible and transferable products to a wider audience, called Intellectual Output (IO).
The IRENE project, in addition to its management and communication phases, involves the realization of four main Intellectual Outputs:

IO 1 – Comparative study among the different partner countries
IO 2 – Selection and collection of articles, publications, educational and research materials
IO 3 – Open online learning platform
IO 4 – Design of an International Pilot Course model

And the project's final event in Venice at the ”San Bernardino” Institute of Ecumenical Studies on March, 23rd 2023.


  • to deepen knowledge and make comparisons for the improvement of methods of teaching religion, and in particular education for religious diversity and cross-cultural communication in the teaching settings of the project partners;
  • to increase the key competencies, content knowledge, terminologies and languages of ecumenical and interreligious issues of those directly and indirectly involved in the project.

Timeline: December 1st, 2020 - June 30th, 2021

Activity: a questionnaire/interview outline in English has been developed by the partners as a common basis for conducting a survey in all 6 partner countries. The questionnaire has been translated by the partners into their national language. Each partner has conducted the survey in their own country by interviewing or submitting the questionnaire to at least 15 religion educators/teachers active in education for religious dialogue and diversity.

Go to questionnaire.

Final Output (Intellectual Output - IO 1): all information collected has been compared and synthesized into a narrative report. The comparative study has been elaborated by UEF (Finland) and the Institute of Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia based on information and findings collected and provided by each of the partners and then published on this project's digital platform (IO 3) and on the partners' websites. The report is used as a basic analysis to elaborate the planned pilot course and the followings (Italy, Finland, Estonia, Greece) (IO 4) and as support to the learning materials (IO 2).

Communication: main results of the comparative study, extracted from the narrative report, are posted on the project's Facebook page and on the partners' websites and social media pages; they are presented during the training courses and the final conference. In addition, partners use their local networks to disseminate these results (university networks, bachelor’s and master's programs, other educational institutions, but also organizations of civil society, especially those dealing with religious diversity).


  • to increase possibility of access to new ideas and concepts relating to how teachers and educators respond to social issues of the present day;
  • to offer educational pathways to those dealing with multiculturalism in their daily work and who play a central role in intercultural communication and interfaith dialogue and in building social stability at the local level;
  • to assist in the professional development of teachers and educators, increasing their knowledge and transforming them into strong subjects in their daily work, improving their multicultural skills to better dialogue with people of different ethnicities, cultures and religions;
  • to develop social and civic competencies, multicultural and leadership skills to train trainers, promote intercultural communication and create conditions for better social dialogue, encourage tolerance and respect for human rights.

Timeline: July 1st, 2021 - April 30th, 2023

Activity: each partner has proposed two articles/texts as teaching/training materials to respond and consequence to the training needs that emerged in the previous phase of the survey and comparative study, as well as best practices and teaching methods that were used (IO 1). The University of Thessaloniki oversees the collection of all contributions, which once linked through an introductory and a concluding text are transformed into a common English-language e-book publication. Then each partner provides adaptation and translation of the e-book version into their own languages. 

Final Output (Intellectual Output - IO2): a collection of articles also used as a Training Guide in the form of an e-book available in 7 language versions (English, Italian, Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Estonian, Finnish), resulting from the contribution of all partners.

Communication: the e-book is promoted through the universities networks of the partners involved in the project, including bachelor’s and master's programs and their academic networks, it is also published on the electronic platform (IO 3) and on the websites of the project partners. It is presented at international courses, seminars and conferences, publicized on the partners' social media. The publication is presented to other stakeholders such as educational institutions, civil society organizations, especially those dealing with religious diversity and addressing multicultural and interfaith challenges, parishes, congregations and other religious communities.


  • to offer innovative, high-level courses in order to improve civic and social skills of participants;
  • to improve and extend the availability of high-quality learning opportunities specifically designed for representatives of faith communities wanting to learn using new technology in a innovative way; 
  • to improve collaboration and build positive strategic partnerships among the organizations involved in the project: the platform will also serve as an online network for communication, training, and exchange of experiences even after the end of the project; 
  • to improve digital integration in learning, teaching and training and improve the use of information and communication technologies for learning.

Timeline: July 1st, 2021 - April 30th, 2023

Activity: each partner commits to collect articles, presentations, research, publications, text and video materials, and video lessons useful for teaching and learning purposes on the project topic and also those learning materials used during the courses offered within the project (IO 4), including the e-book publication (IO 2) the comparative study and the analysis reports (IO 1). ISE, the leader of this activity, collects materials from all partners and organize them on the project's electronic platform, creating virtual spaces dedicated to each partner and setting up an interface that can facilitate research of multilingual materials, both textual and audio and video. The interface is in Italian and English languages, while the content provided by each partner is in their original language versions and in English. The platform is freely accessible online, to reach as many educators and trainers as possible.

Final Output (Intellectual Output - IO3): an open learning tool (online platform) for trainers, teachers, professors, and theologians, including the representatives of different religious communities.

Communication: an open online learning tool is made  available for all those interested, both in the partner countries and outside the partnership, and it is also available for all those facing the same challenges and wishing to find solutions, to maximize the expected impact even beyond the partnership, and beyond the duration of the project itself.


  • to improve the skills of the participants and their methods of teaching interreligious dialogue;

Timeline: July 1st, 2021 - June 25th, 2022

Activities: each partner produces and shares teaching materials (Power Points, video lessons, texts) and presents teaching methods and practices, national and confessional, to be tested during an international pilot course, initially scheduled in Thessaloniki in November 2021 and then postponed to June 2022 in Venice. The pilot course requires partners to develop a training program for those who take part in the first international course, a program that then is appropriately tested, and adjusted, to be later used in subsequent courses. The content of the pilot (and subsequent) course and training materials are set around the training needs and the requirements of those interviewed during the comparative study (IO 1). Special attention is given to digitization and distance learning, which is particularly important in the current times,  for all those who are not able to participate directly in the pilot and subsequent courses. The syllabus for the pilot and subsequent courses with its related training and research materials, provided by each partner, are uploaded on the project's digital platform (IO 3). English is the primary language, but lectures are offered in any of the partners' languages. Video lessons are adapted for people with disabilities as they are translated into International Sign Language. The partner coordinating these activities is the Regional Development Foundation (FRR).

Final Output (Intellectual Output - IO 4): a specific 5-day training course consisting of a training program and teaching materials, including innovative practices and examples provided by all the partners involved in the project.

Communication: the training course represents a transferable product to other territories and contexts, replicable in the future by each partner institute. The proposed model and the outcomes are presented during the final international conference which takes place in Venice on March 23rd 2023 and made available through the online web platform (IO 3), partners' websites and during various events, including social networks and other dissemination tools.

Support from the European Commission does not constitute an endorsement of the content of this project. Indeed, it reflects the views only of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.

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