The University of Odense (Odense Universitet) was established in 1966. In 1998 the University of Southern Denmark (Syddansk Universitet) was established through a merger involving Odense University, the Southern Denmark School of Business and Engineering and South Jutland University Centre. Since then SDU has incorporated several institutions and now has campuses in Odense (70% of all SDU activitees), Kolding, Esbjerg, Slagelse, Sønderborg and Copenhagen. SDU has about 29.000 international and national students and offers 224 bachelor and master programmes (83 in English). The mission of SDU is to deliver research, teaching and the dissemination of knowledge to the very highest standard, as a shared endeavour on the basis of a strong academic environment that is highly reputed for its interdisciplinary and innovative qualities.
Department of the Study of Religions
When established in 1966, the university did not have an Institute of the History of Religions or of Christian Studies that could provide education for religion teachers, nor did it have a Faculty of Theology. In 1982, though, a Department for the Study of Religion was established, and in contrast to what was the case at the universities in Copenhagen and Aarhus, the new department was established with the sole aim of educating teachers for the non-confessional study-of-religions based RE in the upper-secondary school, the Gymnasium. The study program was named Religion, identical to the name of the school subject.
In 1999, the department was authorized to offer a major program too. This meant that the department now became a normal department for the study of religions, thus no longer having the education of Religion teachers as its one and only aim. However, as is the case with the other study-of-religions departments at the other universities, the education and production of RE teachers then as well as today is a core activity.
The Study of Religions today is located within the Institute of History. There are some 215 students enrolled, and they either aim at a major or a minor in the study of religions, many of them hoping for a job either as RE teachers in the Gymnasium or elsewhere or in some job where they can use their knowledge and analytical skills in regard to religion, including their inter-cultural know-how.
The study of religions in Odense has, from its beginnings in the early 1980s, been exceptional in so far as it has made a study-of-religions based RE-didactics an integral part of the study program, linking it to the general methodological issues within the study of religion and the philosophy of religion.
The integrated education of RE teachers as well as the Danish tradition of making extensive use of external examinators coming from the Gymnasium guarantees a strong link between the university and the school, between scholar s of religion and RE teachers. Furthermore, scholars of religion, also in Odense, are frequently authoring and editing textbooks for RE.
Head of Study of Religions, Department of History, SDU
DK-5230, Campusvej 55, Odense M
Phone: +45 65503315
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