Alexander Unser

Alexander Unser
Technische Universität Dortmund | TUD · Department of Catholic Theology

Doctor of Theology
Juniorprofessor for Religious Education - Research on Interreligious Learning, Social Inequality and Religion & Politics

About

40
Publications
6,055
Reads
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57
Citations
Citations since 2017
33 Research Items
55 Citations
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201720182019202020212022202305101520
201720182019202020212022202305101520
Additional affiliations
April 2019 - present
Technische Universität Dortmund
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Description
  • Since 2019, Alexander works as assistant professor for Catholic Theology and Religious Education at TU Dortmund University. Before that, he worked as a research associate at the chair of religious education at the University of Wuerzburg.
March 2012 - March 2019
University of Wuerzburg
Position
  • Research Associate
Education
October 2012 - July 2018
University of Wuerzburg
Field of study
  • Religious Education
October 2009 - September 2012
Freiburg University of Education
Field of study
  • Educational Science
October 2005 - May 2011
University of Freiburg
Field of study
  • Theology

Publications

Publications (40)
Article
Full-text available
This article draws on the ongoing discussion in some European countries about whether and how non-religious worldviews and pupils should be included in religious education (RE). This discussion lacks empirical knowledge about the specific learning conditions of these pupils in RE – a desideratum that this article addresses. Building on a terminolog...
Article
Full-text available
In times of existential crisis, such as the Corona pandemic, people may turn to religious traditions that help them make new sense of the depressing situation. While recent studies have shown that during the Corona pandemic, the frequency of prayer and church attendance increased in several countries, we know little about whether and how religious...
Chapter
Full-text available
Jedes pädagogische Handeln zielt darauf ab, wirksam zu sein. So gilt auch für den schulischen Unterricht im Allgemeinen und für das interreligiöse Lernen im Besonderen, dass ihr Zweck darin besteht, etwas bei den Schülerinnen und Schülern zu bewirken. Die Vorstellung von Wirksamkeit ist dabei eine Konstruktion – und das in mindestens zweifacher Hin...
Article
Full-text available
The study of social inequality has so far received little attention in religious education research, although this phenomenon has been studied in educational science and sociology of education research for fifty years. This article therefore aims to clarify the explanatory power of this research approach for research in religious education. Based o...
Book
Full-text available
Wie plane ich ein quantitativ-empirisches religionspädagogisches For­schungs­pro­jekt? Was muss ich beachten, wenn ich einen Fragebogen erstelle? Wie analysiere und interpretiere ich meine erhobenen Daten? Ausführlich be­schreibt der Band die ein­zel­nen Schritte der quantitativen For­schung. Die Arbeitsschritte – vom Forschungsinteresse bis hin z...
Chapter
Full-text available
One of the main claims of interreligious learning is that through pedagogically guided engagement with other religions and their believers, existing prejudices and stereotypes should be reduced and mutual understanding and tolerance promoted. Whether interreligious learning actually delivers on this promise, however, is currently questionable. The...
Chapter
The political dimension of religion has gained considerably importance in the public debate of the past three decades (Herbert, 2003; Kepel, 1994; Körner, 2020). In the process, the climate of this discussion has also changed. Religions and religious people, especially in Western countries, are increasingly obliged to explain whether and how their...
Chapter
In this study we investigate whether and to what extent religion is a resource that promotes critical citizenship among young people in Tanzania. The theoretical background is liberal and communitarian perspectives, which emphasize that citizenship is expressed on the one hand in resistance to state intervention and regulations that restrict indivi...
Book
Full-text available
This innovative volume is focused on the impact of religion on the realization of democratic citizenship. The researchers contributing provide empirical evidence on how religion influences attitudes towards citizenship and democracy in different countries. The book also tackles the challenges and opportunities for citizenship education. Experts con...
Article
Full-text available
Die Entwicklungspsychologie beschäftigt sich grundlegend mit der Frage, wie sich individuelle Eigenschaften und Fähigkeiten im Laufe des Lebensalters verändern. Diese Veränderungen werden als Entwicklung konzeptualisiert; das heißt, es wird davon ausgegangen, dass Veränderungen mit zunehmendem Alter einhergehen, dass diese von relativer Dauer sind,...
Article
In times of disaster, religion is said to be a powerful resource of meaning-focused coping. It offers motifs, symbols and stories to reappraise the situation and therefore ascribe meaning to it. Besides religion, in modern times secular resources are feasible to make meaning within disaster, too. Empirical instruments that assess both religious and...
Chapter
Full-text available
Interreligiöses Lernen gilt heute gemeinhin als eine wichtige Teildimension religiösen Lernens und religiöser Bildung, deren Bedeutung durch die religiöse Pluralisierung unserer Gesellschaft und die damit verbundenen individuellen und sozialen Herausforderungen weiter zunimmt. Es verwundert daher nicht, dass innerhalb der letzten zwanzig Jahre die...
Article
Full-text available
Der Beitrag führt die These aus, dass es für die wissenschaftliche Religionspädagogik eine der zentralen Zukunftsaufgaben sein wird, sich stärker als bisher empirisch zu professionalisieren, wenn sie auch weiterhin innerhalb des Wissenschafts- und des Bildungssystems eine Rolle spielen möchte. Dazu werden disziplininterne und -externe Faktoren anal...
Article
Differences in race, ethnic origin, gender, belief and worldview, disability and chronic disease, age, and sexual orientation must not be a reason for discriminating against people. Non-discrimination is enshrined as a fundamental right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in numerous subsequent documents and in the constitutions of democr...
Chapter
Interreligiöses Lernen gilt heute als eine Lernform des Religionsunterrichts, die angesichts einer zunehmenden religiösen Pluralität in unserer Gesellschaft immer mehr an Bedeutung gewinnt. Sie soll Heranwachsende dazu befähigen, mit dieser Pluralität konstruktiv umzugehen und in ihr einen eigenen Standpunkt zu finden. Zur theologischen Legitimieru...
Article
Full-text available
This paper is concerned with the rights of refugees. The refugee issue has been an acutely charged item on the political agenda for several years. Although the great waves of influx have flattened out, people are continually venturing into Europe. Europe’s handling of refugees has been subject to strong criticism, and the accusation that various ac...
Preprint
Full-text available
Der Beitrag führt die These aus, dass es für die wissenschaftliche Religionspädagogik eine der zentralen Zukunftsaufgaben sein wird, sich stärker als bisher empirisch zu professionalisieren, wenn sie auch weiterhin innerhalb des Wissenschafts- und des Bildungssystems eine Rolle spielen möchte. Dazu werden disziplininterne und -externe Faktoren an...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this study we investigate whether and to what extent religion is a resource that promotes critical citizenship among young people in Tanzania. The theoretical background is liberal and communitarian perspectives, which emphasize that citizenship is expressed on the one hand in resistance to state intervention and regulations that restrict indivi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Socioeconomic rights are often referred to as empowerment rights because political participation and civic engagement presuppose a minimum of education, of social and economic security guaranteed by socioeconomic rights. In this sense, the right to work can be seen as a test case for socioeconomic human rights. This study examines which religious,...
Chapter
Full-text available
This paper uses quantitative data to examine the attitudes of Church officials to the question of whether and to what extent liturgical norms should be observed. This is done exemplarily by means of the questions "Changes in the Eucharistic High Prayer", "Necessity of two readings in the Sunday Mass celebration" and "Prohibition of lay preaching"....
Chapter
Full-text available
Even today, after 45 years of research, Empirical Theology is met with scepticism by a number of theologians who have some doubts as to whether empirical research is still theology. The scepticism towards Empirical Theology concerns especially epistemological issues like the question of whether empirical methods are adequate to research those aspec...
Book
Full-text available
Today, religion is a complex issue. In Western Europe, the so-called “Christian heritage” is challenged by both other religious traditions and secular worldviews. It is therefore essential to understand the complexity of religion in different contexts. This volume addresses four questions in this regard: How can we assess religion and religiosity a...
Poster
Full-text available
Stimulating learning activities is an essential task for teachers to achieve learning outcomes in class. There is, however, hardly any knowledge about which factors influence students’ learning activities in RE. Previous studies suggest that religiosity (Thanissaro, 2012; Sjöborg, 2013) and cultural capital (Benner et al., 2011) may be relevant stu...
Book
Full-text available
Interreligious learning is viewed as a key educational task today. Increasing religious plurality in our societies and associated risks of societal tensions and conflicts necessitate that students deal at school with other religions, their belief systems, and the social reality of those who believe in them. Although several international studies ha...
Chapter
Full-text available
This paper gives an introduction to the method of questionnaire survey for research in RE.
Chapter
During the last ten years, a couple of empirical studies on the processes and outcomes of interreligious learning have been published. This article provides a systematic review of the current state of research and discusses research gaps.
Chapter
Full-text available
The twenty-first century has been characterized by an increasing number of conflicts and global humanitarian disasters. More people than ever before have left their home countries for political or economic reasons. As refugees, they are legally protected by international covenants such as the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights...
Chapter
Full-text available
Historically, the dominant understanding of human dignity was contingent, by which we mean that, according to this view, dignity was regarded as depending on a person’s social position or behaviour. A loss of social rank or immoral behaviour meant that it was possible to lose one’s dignity. However, since the time of the enlightenment, an understan...
Chapter
Human rights education (HRE) aims to promote knowledge about and support for human rights (Tibbitts and Fernekes 2011, pp. 87–88). Several strategies were developed to achieve this learning objective. However, many approaches of HRE are quite formal, concentrating on systematical knowledge about human rights declarations, areas of human rights, and...
Chapter
Full-text available
This article gives an introduction to the exploratory factor analysis as a method in RE research.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
While there is an ongoing discussion about social inequality in sociology of education, this topic is widely disregarded in current concepts of RE. This paper aims to show that social inequality is an existing pedagogical and theological problem for RE; and that it is therefore a benefit to adopt the findings of sociology of education in order to d...
Chapter
Following Bourdieu's sociology of education, this paper examines if social inequalities in RE exist. The results from a current quantitative empirical survey with RE students from different social classes in Germany (N=952) show that especially the students’ religiosity, their reading habits and their gender influence their behavior in learning sit...
Chapter
Full-text available
In 2014, the Vatican published a working paper (the so-called ‘Lineamenta’) to prepare a synod of bishops on the family. The ‘Lineamenta’ assume that there are especially two reasons why so many Catholics do not live in accordance with the Church’s teaching on sexuality: a decrease of faith and an extreme individualism. This research paper examines...
Chapter
This paper refers to an ongoing discussion about whether the social structure of a specific country or the personality of individuals is a stronger predictor for attitudes towards human rights. This discussion was initiated by a paper by Francis and Robbins (2013) in response to a paper by Webb, Ziebertz, Curran and Reindl (2012). The aim of our st...
Chapter
Full-text available
This article reflects on the relation of religion and human rights in Germany. How is religion covered in debates about human rights and how are religious communities involved in public debates? Does the religiosity of German youths have an impact on their attitudes towards human rights? To answer those questions a short review on important public...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, the question is discussed how researchers of RE can analyse the problem of injustice in education. The article responds to the approach of Judith Könemann and proposes an alternative approach oriented on Bourdieu's theory of cultural and social reproduction. Possible research strategies are outlined with reference to empirical find...

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Due to the increasing threat to liberal democracies by populist movements and loss of acceptance in parts of the population, one of the central challenges of the education system is to promote the development of democratic values. Religious education must make a decisive contribution to this, because for many people in Europe, religion is an important resource that shapes individual values. Since religious traditions have an ambivalent relationship to democratic values, there is a need for specific educational offers that strengthen the democracy-promoting potential of religion and counteract anti-democratic developments in a preventive way. Previous concepts, however, have proven to be ineffective. Therefore, the project aims to establish an EU-wide interdisciplinary network of experts and young professionals from academia and practice, which will identify and analyse key educational challenges at the intersection of religious and civic education within three years, evaluate existing concepts to see how effectively they address the challenges, and develop innovative contributions to solving the challenges on this basis. The results are made available to the public in the form of scientific publications and an education expertise.
Project
The aim of the research project is to examine empirically how, in view of the current flight and migration dynamics, the potential of religion can be optimally used to create trust between the autochthonous population and migrants and thus strengthen cohesion in Europe. The theoretical framework of the project is the social capital approach, which is used to evaluate and develop the work of local partners in practice (Christian and Muslim communities working with migrants or refugees). Practice partners have been selected from Germany, Poland and the Netherlands to capture the diversity in the EU with regard to the public significance of religion as an important context factor. Methodologically, the project follows a mixed-methods approach, which links methods of quantitative and qualitative social research. A survey among members of the religious communities involved is used to examine the existence of social capital, the structural conditions of engagement and intervening individual characteristics such as religiosity and political attitudes. Additional qualitative interviews will be conducted in which members describe their commitment with regard to their religious beliefs and traditions (religious teachings, narratives, etc.). The findings of both methodological approaches are then related to each other in the interpretation of the data. On the basis of these findings, strategies and interventions will be developed that improve social capital building through the work of religious communities.
Archived project
To analyze youth attitudes towards religion and human rights.