Bishop Grosseteste University College was founded as an Anglican teacher training college and remains one of only a handful of Higher Education Institutions in the UK that has retained its Anglican identity. Our commitment to the role of religion in society is complimented by the courses that we offer in Theology, enabling students to gain strong foundations in theological thinking, whether they are pursuing a career in the teaching of religious education or looking to fulfil other objectives. Bishop Grosseteste Year 1 Education with Theology Living Faiths in Education module includes a visit to London. Students visit places of worship, museums, galleries and shrines. Last year it included a visit to a Muslim school run by the Dialogue Society, incorporating an evening meal. This was so positive for students that we wish to expand this and make it an established part of the London visit - to be hosted by a religious group with the sharing of a meal together. This will be a pilot project on which we would hope to build, developing links with our local interfaith forum, Lincoln University and a range of faith schools in London.
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This project aims to build links between and within faith communities and will bring together students from an Anglican Higher Education Institute with students from other faiths. Over the medium of an evening meal, students will be able (with the guidance and support of staff) to gain confidence and skills to develop trusting and active relationships with people of different faiths and beliefs that we hope will continue long beyond the initial trip. It is hoped that the partnerships established with one or more institutes of different faiths will continue to grow and develop, establishing long term programmes of exchange and sharing of experience. Students from Bishop Grosseteste and our partner schools will be asked to help design a programme of activities for this cultural exchange visit and might also take a lead role in the organisation of the occasion itself. Their input will be the key component of the evaluation process. A key component of the studies undertaken by all our students, involves encouraging them to plan and run activities for themselves, helping to prepare them for skills they will need in the classroom, if they choose to become teachers. The very nature of this visit rests upon the young people themselves creating the environments in which they can come together, share experiences and form long lasting friendships. This can only happen if the young people themselves create the framework they need to facilitate this, with help and guidance from University College and partner institution staff. Within the framework of the Living Faiths in Education module, students will be able to set in context the experiences gained through the visit and build upon insights into the faith and beliefs of others, who may often have a very different set of cultural and religious values. Through the visit, students will be able to informally explore shared and different cultural experiences and then, in the more formal surrounding of their degree course, they can access resources and information to contextualise and process their own interactions. This will not only help to foster greater understanding, but will greatly benefit students in their theology studies. The experiences gained from this exchange in year 1 will be further developed in Year 2, when Theology students visit the Islamic Foundation in Leicester as part of their Learning Through Religions module. They also have an opportunity to participate in a 5 day (voluntary) field trip to Turkey. In Year 3 as part of the Issues in Religious Education module, a field trip to India is run jointly with the Geography department. Each of these activities seeks to develop student awareness and appreciation of other religions and their followers. We know from the small scale project that we ran last year, that students found the visit and the opportunity to meet and share experiences of huge value and that it helped them in broadening their horizons of understanding.
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