Social Work from an intercultural Perspective

The object of research is the practice of intercultural social and pedagogical work. The activities in that field are described, interpreted based on social science theories and normatively evaluated according, among other things, biblical-theological foundations. Also, strategic-programmatic proposals are developed.

This application-oriented research enables empirically founded statements about intercultural everyday life and the associated communication processes in social work. Among others, Christian social and pedagogical work with migrants, which should bring about reflected inclusion, is the focus of our research. For this reason, the critical-constructive proximity to and expansion of diaconal science is also sought in terms of research.

Subject of the research are e.g., the following practice-relevant questions:

  • How do religious (pre-)schools deal with diversity? What do educators, curative teachers, deacons, and social pedagogues do so that the vision of inclusion is realized in everyday life? What further steps would be useful?
  • How is religious diversity considered and used constructively by staff and learners in Protestant Youth Work? What are the limits of tolerance? What strategies would be useful?

The research focuses on the following topics:

  • Christian social work
  • Religious education
  • Inclusion

The following English publications have appeared on the research area:

  • Zonne-Gätjens, E. (2008): Church based Youth Work – Chilling out, Belonging and Learning in: Streib, H., Dinter, A.; Söderblom. K., Lived Religion – Conceptual, Empirical and Practical-Theological Approaches, Leiden: Brill, S.241-246.
  • Zonne-Gätjens, (2008): Faithing and “Theology with Children” in: Ganzevoort, R.R.; Mulder, A.C. (2008): Weal and Woe II, Empirical Explorations and Theological Reflections, Münster: LIT-Verlag, S. 154-165.
  • Zonne-Gätjens, E. (2008): The Relation of Parachurch Youth Organisations and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, in: Journal of Youth and Theology, Volume 7, No. 2, 2008.
  • Zonne-Gätjens, E. (2013): Perceiving, Interpreting and Innovating the Religious Dimension in School Cultures, in: Skeie, G.; Evertington, J.; Ter Avest, I.; Miedema, S. (2013): Exploring Context in Religious Education Research, Münster, S.87-114.
  • Zonne-Gätjens, E. (2020): Hindustani Institutions – Endeavours for strengthening societal presence in Holland, in: Maben, D.; Kunz-Lübcke, A. (2020): My Neighbour's God - Interfaith Spaces and Claims of Religious Identity, Berlin, S. 89-154.
  • Zonne-Gätjens, E. (2022): Interculturalizing Religious Education – Mission Completed? Religions 13: 653:
  • Zonne-Gätjens, E. (2022): Religious Education and Interculturality in Waldorf (Pre-)Schools in Germany, in: Fischer, M. (2022): Interkulturelle Bildung und Transformation der Weltgesellschaft, Münster.  


Erna Zonne-Gätjens
Prof. Dr. Erna Zonne-Gätjens