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A strong position against racial prejudice

Gunnar E. Finnbogason, professor at the Faculty of Teacher Education

"The research is about exploring the outlooks and values of young people in upper secondary school, aged 18 or older. Attention was directed in particular to a number of main themes, i.e. outlook on life, identity and wellbeing, relationships and attitudes towards others, values, and diversity," says Gunnar E. Finnbogason, professor at the Faculty of Teacher Education, on the research he has been conducting since 2010.

As well as Gunnar, Gunnar J. Gunnarsson, Hanna Ragnarsdóttir and Halla Jónsdóttir of the School of Education are involved in the research. "Our approach is interdisciplinary and we have different academic backgrounds, e.g. in religious pedagogy, pedagogy, multicultural studies and the history of ideas," Gunnar explains.

Gunnar E. Finnbogason

"A large proportion of respondents also say that there is a lot to be learned from friendships with people of different origins and take a very strong position against racial prejudice."

Gunnar E. Finnbogason, professor at the Faculty of Teacher Education

Gunnar says that there has been a lack of research into the outlooks and values of young people in light of recent social developments here in Iceland, a lack that this research team wishes to address. The team has already conducted a survey in Icelandic upper secondary schools asking, for example, about the importance of religion in society, whether consideration should be given to different behaviour on the basis of culture and religion, and whether the struggle for freedom and human rights is important in the eyes of the participants.

"The results show that despite social changes, young people believe that their families have more influence on their outlooks than their friends. A large proportion of respondents also say that there is a lot to be learned from friendships with people of different origins and take a very strong position against racial prejudice," says Gunnar. He adds that the results of the survey also suggest that many participants seem to have a positive attitude towards religious diversity and the cultural pluralism that young people see today.

Gunnar says that it is important for teacher training institutions to have more information on the outlooks and values of young people, especially in light of the educational policy to be introduced with the new curriculum.