Faith in crisis
Young Christians are an endangered species in Europe, evidence from university researchers suggests. A survey of youth aged 16-29 across the continent revealed that a majority in many countries did not identify with any religion at all.
The report - Europe’s Young Adults and Religion - was jointly published by St Mary’s University, London, and the Institut Catholique de Paris. It revealed that young people in the Czech Republic are Europe’s least religious with 91% claiming no affiliation with any religion. Similar results were found in Estonia (80%) and Sweden (75%). Poland bucks the trend with 83% saying they were at least culturally religious.
In traditionally Catholic countries such as Ireland and Portugal, just over half of youth still identified as Catholics. But in Spain, home of the Inquisition, the figure was just 37%.
In both the United Kingdom and France just a quarter of young people identify as any type of Christian. In Britain only 7% identify as Anglicans, while 6% are Muslim. Similarly in France 10% identify with Islam, while just 2% consider themselves Protestant. Stephen Bullivant, professor of theology and author of the report, said the results showed that”Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good - or at least for the next 100 years”.
The European Union Youth Orchestra is moving to Italy
Young musicians are preparing to ditch the bright lights of London for the sleepy north Italian town of Ferrara. The European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) has confirmed that its 120 members will move to Italy later this year to avoid being tangled up in Britain’s Brexit web. All 28 EU countries are represented in the orchestra, whose members are aged 16-26. The EUYO has been based in London since its inception in 1976 and currently boasts 15 British musicians.
The orchestra’s chief executive, Marshall Marcus, is also a Brit. He has described Brexit as an opportunity for the orchestra to enhance its already strong reputation at a creative new location. But he admits that, once the UK leaves Creative Europe - an EU funded program - the British musicians will probably have to play elsewhere.
Despite this loss, the EUYO is on the brink of unprecedented success. In 2016 the orchestra was threatened with losing its funding but survived thanks to pressure from some of Europe’s best known musicians and conductors.
The EUYO is now set to benefit from an increased budget for Creative Europe but is also raising funding from outreach projects. From its new base in Italy the EUYO will be on the move across Europe, particularly in countries, such as Greece, where cultural participation in EU projects has been low.
Academics at Oxford are pioneering a ‘blockchain university’, thought to be the first of its kind in the world. The group of renegade research fellows will use the new digital technology to advertise themselves, and their specialist modules, directly to students.
Blockchain technology, which is poised to revolutionise the way online information is stored and payments processed, will enable students to pay for their education and record their academic qualifications.
It will be the unique selling point of Woolf University, which will not have a physical base and therefore save on almost all overhead costs. Essentially the entire university will exist within a smart phone app which connects academics with students around the world.
Director of the new university, Joshua Broggi, described it as a “low-cost alternative for students” and said it would also enhance the job security of academics. Following the Oxbridge model, Woolf University will have different colleges. As a rule, 80% of faculty staff at each college will hold doctorates from the world’s top 200 universities.
Students will pay at least £100 for a tutorial session on Skype or through another web technology. These will be one-on-one sessions and students will pay for around two per week during term time for three years. Though expensive it works out less than a current undergraduate degree costs, and pays the academics far more. Summarising their idea the Woolf University team have dubbed it ‘Uber for students, Airbnb for academics’.