Heidelberg Institute at German-Georgian Conference

HI associate Lucas Wehner talks about strategic partnership

HEIDELBERG/ VIENNA. On November 24 and 25, the international conference “Education – whose responsibility is it? – Historic, Legal, and Ideological Perspectives” took place in the Steven’s Hall of the Archiocese Vienna. High-ranking church officials from the Georgian Orthodox Church, such as Metropolitan Daniel, and experts from Georgia’s science and diplomatic scene came to Vienna in order to discuss with German participants their paradigms of responsibility in education. It was the goal of the conference to find ways for Georgia’s politics and religion into a modern, multicultural and multi-religious Europe. The conference was marked by its ecumenical approach and interest in exchanging thoughts, for instance, this was demonstrated by speakers of various Christian confessions. In this regard, there was also a Catholic priest speaking.

2018 DtGregorForum 2

The conference was held by the German Professors’ Forum, the European Academy of Science and Arts, Christian Solidarity International Austria, the Georgian-Patriarchate St. King Tamar University, and the International Center of Christian Research at the Georgian Orthodox Church. Other partners were also represented such as the Heidelberg Institute (Lucas Wehner) and the International Academy of Philosophy (Prof. Dr. mult. Daniel von Wachter).

In his presentation, Heidelberg Institute associate and director Lucas Wehner emphasized on strategic partnership in Christian education. Since 2018, the Heidelberg Institute has partnered with the Free Evangelical School (FES) Lörrach in developing an orientation program for students interested in higher education. In this regard, FES Lörrach academy director Sebastian Engelhardt and Lucas Wehner introduced the participants to their partnership model as well as approaches to education. Lucas Wehner made clear that Christian education can only be done cooperatively in a secular world.

The conference was led by an intensive discussion about the tradition of the church fathers in a modern world, fields of school education, and the profile of university education. In this regard, another topic was the counterbalance towards an economic approach to education concerning the usefulness of education. Finally, the conference was concluded with an unanimous vote for a declaration by all participants. In this declaration, the participants mentioned that they aimed to overcome the cultural and religious separation between East and West. The addresses were civil societies and governments in countries with Christian origins: “We, the participants of the conference, are unified in the mutual idea that education has to provide cornerstones of orientation which help people to also evaluate their environment, cultural, social, economic, and political surroundings by Christian values.

In this regard, the participants especially talked through a religiously hostile secularism. Thus, the declaration contains the following statement: “Secular society has begun to remove religious values and education out of the public. The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child (Article 29. 1c, UN, November 20, 1989) emphasizes the right of a child to be raised in its cultural identity and by its cultural values. The radical secular ideology violates this right roughly.

Lucas Wehner states: “This conference made clear that we still have lots of work to do to protect education, which used to be a very Christian invention, from secular forces. The Heidelberg Institute will continue its efforts to advance Christian higher education in Germany and Europe, and is glad that it does not stand alone – considering partners in Georgia, Austria, Liechtenstein, and many other places around the globe.”