About the Author(s)

Yusuf Hanafi Email symbol
Department of Arabic, Faculty of Letters, Universitas Negeri Malang, Malang, Indonesia

Muhammad Saefi symbol
Biology Study Program, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universitas Islam Negeri Maulana Malik Ibrahim Malang, Malang, Indonesia

Tsania N. Diyana symbol
Department of Physics Education, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

M. Alifudin Ikhsan symbol
Department of Civics Education, Faculty of Social, Law and Political Science, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Muhammad T. Yani symbol
Department of Civic Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, Universitas Negeri Surabaya, Surabaya, Indonesia

Oktaviani A. Suciptaningsih symbol
Graduate School, Universitas Negeri Malang, Malang, Indonesia

Ade E. Anggraini symbol
Graduate School, Universitas Negeri Malang, Malang, Indonesia

Intan S. Rufiana symbol
Graduate School, Universitas Negeri Malang, Malang, Indonesia


Hanafi, Y., Saefi, M., Diyana, T.N., Ikhsan, M.A., Yani, M.T. & Suciptaningsih, O.A. et al., 2023, ‘What content offers and how teachers teach: Religious Moderation-integrated teaching in Indonesia’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 79(2), a9070. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i2.9070

Original Research

What content offers and how teachers teach: Religious Moderation-integrated teaching in Indonesia

Yusuf Hanafi, Muhammad Saefi, Tsania N. Diyana, M. Alifudin Ikhsan, Muhammad T. Yani, Oktaviani A. Suciptaningsih, Ade E. Anggraini, Intan S. Rufiana

Received: 02 Jun. 2023; Accepted: 13 Sept. 2023; Published: 24 Nov. 2023

Copyright: © 2023. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


What and how to teach religious moderation at the undergraduate level still concerns academics. This study aims to explore the perceptions of lecturers and students about the objectives, content, and strategies used in learning religious moderation. This study uses a multiple-case exploratory design with a qualitative approach. Data were collected through interviews with eight lecturers and 15 students from public and Islamic universities in Indonesia. Data analysis in this study used conventional content analysis methods with an inductive coding process. The first two authors analysed data, and their agreement was calculated using Cohen’s kappa of 0.90. As a result, participants said that the ultimate goal of learning moderation in religion is to teach students about aligning views on religion and non-religion. The content that needs to be taught early and as a firm root of religious moderation is the internal harmony of religious communities. Finally, the development of campus culture can be an alternative model to internalise the values of religious moderation.

Contribution: Overall, this research helps us to understand what kind of religious moderation learning we want to introduce in Indonesian universities.

Keywords: perception; religious education; religious moderation; integrated teaching; Islamic education; perception; religious education; religious moderation.


A polarised society that uses religious images and rhetoric is a problem that accompanies religious pluralism (Pedersen 2016). On the other hand, some universities are experiencing a spate of incidents of religiously motivated bias (Sirry 2020; Suyanto, Sirry & Sugihartati 2022). The study conducted by Ali et al. (2021) also shows that the existing literature does not yet cover the latest trends in religious learning activities, which still focus on extreme and radical attitudes and their impact on the identity crisis of the younger generation. Reflecting on this fact, Islamic religious education (IRE) is judged to only show students’ performance in class and does not adequately cope with aspects of religious diversity (Pohl 2017). The role of IRE is contentious and contested. In various countries worldwide, the debate around the position and benefits of religious education is increasing rapidly in response to religious pluralism (Shaw 2019). It has much in common with the discussion in Indonesia.

Islamic religious education lecturers want to improve the curriculum but are limited in size and influence (Hanafi et al. 2020). The lecturers feel a sense of crisis that this course has become an ‘unwanted victim’ of curriculum reform. This problem shows that directing students towards religious pluralism is increasingly difficult (Bernstein 2015). Despite the perceived crisis, IRE remains a popular subject, and the wider community recognises its importance. In any way, IRE must remain a compulsory subject, which is expected to be able to navigate students towards religious moderation (Chanifah et al. 2021).

Through the Ministry of Religion, the Indonesian government has published a guidebook for teachers to internalise religious moderation (Aziz & Anam 2021; Muhammad & Muryono 2021; Muhtarom, Marbawi & Najib 2021). Previously, religious moderation also has been widely studied. These studies have examined religious moderation from the point of view of Muslim philosophers (Humaidi 2022) and students from religious process literacy (Hanafi et al. 2022b), and explored how the term religious moderation is used (Islam & Khatun 2015). Moreover, it has been stated that religious moderation is taught in schools based on three principles, namely tawassuth, ta’adul, and tawazun (Husna & Thohir 2020), with special emphasis placed on upholding a tolerant attitude (Jamarudin et al. 2022). However, to our knowledge, no research has critically examined religious moderation through the lens of curriculum theory. There are many topics and ways that teachers can do it, but what is the most important thing to learn, and what is the best way to do it in teaching in the context of higher education, according to lecturers and students? Therefore, it is necessary to examine what the goals and essence of learning religious moderation are from the point of view of lecturers and students. Our analysis of religious moderation learning revolves around the following questions: (1) What is the purpose of the study? (2) What content needs to be delivered? (3) How to teach students?

These three questions can help us understand what kind of religious moderation universities want to introduce in their curriculum. Our aim is to gain a new understanding of the curriculum of religious moderation teaching by exploring the following three aspects: (1) goals to be achieved, (2) learning materials and contents, and (3) learning strategies (Muhammedi 2016). We argue that discussions about learning religious moderation are often flawed because they are often interpreted narrowly about tolerance and are taught only through IRE courses in the classroom.


Study design

This study uses an embedded multiple-case exploratory design (Yin 2017) involving lecturers’ and students’analysis units. This article uses a qualitative approach that allows to focus on understanding the meaning of a person or group about material objects and the environment (Polkinghorne 2010); furthermore, this research discusses about the views of students and lecturers on the objectives of learning religious moderation, what needs to be taught (content), and how to teach it (method).

This research uses a case study because it can provide a deep understanding of how lecturers and students experience IRE learning, where this course has contributed to cultivating the value of religious moderation. In other words, this research will also explore how religious moderation is taught through IRE courses. This multicase research will give us more robust insight because it is obtained from the perspectives of lecturers and students at various universities in Indonesia, including both public and Islamic religious universities.

Context and participants

Data were collected from lecturers and students from public and Islamic universities in Indonesia, in which they shared their experiences in teaching religious moderation. The lecturer participants comprised eight people from eight different universities (with 88% male and more than 10 years of teaching experience): three professors of IRE and five senior lecturers are concerned with religious moderation, including the head of the centre for religious moderation and the initiator of national character education. With regard to demographics (four different islands, namely Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi, more than 50% are universities in big cities) represent Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the students comprised 15 students from 6 different universities, 2–3 students with almost all women. The selected students actively participate in religious communities and religious tolerance campaigns on their campuses. Thus, the technique used is purposive sampling (Robinson 2014). Lecturers and students are considered knowledgeable people, that is, people who have experience with the topic of religious moderation and thus can contribute to this topic. Every lecturer and student is considered a case who is expected to provide opportunities to get a variety of perspectives. For coding, the first lecturer and student will be coded D1 and M1, followed by the name’s initials.

Data source

We used a semi-structured interview method to gain in-depth insight into the perceptions of lecturers and students about learning religious moderation. This exploratory interview is often used for qualitative research purposes in educational research (Magaldi & Berler 2020). All participants had previously received a copy of the interview protocol. The interview protocol was divided into three parts, namely objectives, strategies, and methods. The main questions posed to the lecturers are presented in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Central questions for semi-structured interviews.

The questions asked to students have the same thing, but in different words, ask the method, namely the experience of learning religious moderation that helps you on campus and in your social life.

Interviews were conducted through Zoom video conferencing that took 45–60 min for each participant. Before the interview began, the interviewer ensured that the participants were ready and comfortable that their interview to be recorded. Three leading researchers conducted the interviews. As part of the interview, participants were asked to share information freely about the activities carried out by sharing screens during the interview session. These interviews were then transcribed verbatim in detail. Initially, we had five transcripts from lecturer interviews and 10 from students. Then, we continued the interview with 8 lecturers and 15 students to achieve data saturation. Saturation is a methodological principle in qualitative research when no more categories or themes are generated (Saunders et al. 2018).

Data analysis

The content analysis method was chosen because it is accessible and powerful and can provide results for improving educational practice (Kleinheksel et al. 2020). Content analysis has the potential to be a helpful method in religious education because it can offer potential value for guiding targeted religious moderation teaching processes. Content analysis can do more than providing a necessary and provocative description of essential components (Slater 2013), including the study of religious moderation. The approach chosen is the inductive coding process (Miles, Huberman & Saldaña 2013) with two main processes. Firstly, the two principal investigators read the initial transcripts repeatedly and coded them openly. Researchers provide codes to form categories and themes. Secondly, researchers met and discussed the resulting types and themes to reach an agreement.

Reliability and validity

The following steps were taken to establish reliability and validity in this study. Firstly, the initial interview protocol was reviewed and revised based on expert comments and suggestions. Thus, content validity is predetermined (Brod, Pohlman & Tesler Waldman 2014). Secondly, the two leading researchers involved in the coding process met regularly to discuss differences in coding results and to reach a consensus (De Raadt et al. 2021). Consistency in the coding quality of these data was ensured with Cohen’s Kappa for intra- and inter-observer reliability above 0.90. Thirdly, member checking was carried out by providing the results of data analysis to participants (Catanzaro 1988) to confirm whether the results obtained are not different from those conveyed during the data collection process. In other words, the data have accuracy and resonance with the participants’ experiences (Birt et al. 2016).

Ethical considerations

Before data collection began, ethical approval was requested from the Association of Indonesian IRE Lecturers. Ethical approval was also requested from the State University of Malang Research Ethics Committee which was granted, in order to conduct this study (KEPK/047/UM/VI/2023) with a recommendation from the Association of Indonesian IRE Lecturers. After we got several names, we asked for their participation via email and explained the research’s intent and purpose in detail. After completing this process, the participants gave their informed consent to the research team. Confidentiality of the information provided by the participants during the interviews was maintained, and only the primary research team had access to this data. Data collection was carried out in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.


The interviews revealed various themes and sub-themes regarding the objectives, content, and strategies for internalising the values of religious moderation in Indonesian universities (Table 2).

TABLE 2: Themes and sub-themes from the results of interviews with lecturers and students.

The perspectives of lecturers and students regarding the learning objectives of religious moderation can at least be grouped into three, namely to be religion wisely, to respond to the phenomenon of division between religious communities, and to strengthen the commitment to Pancasila, which is the national ideology of Indonesia.

Religion wisely

Some participants stated that religious moderation is needed to teach students how religion is wise and wise for preserving human dignity:

‘To provide provisions for students related to creed and sharia so that they can be genuinely appropriate and not deviate from what they should be. Teach students that religious differences are not an excuse for not collaborating.’ (D7, MM, Lecturer)

‘Efforts to restore the understanding and practice of religion so that it is by its nature to maintain human dignity, dignity, and civilization and not mean otherwise.’ (M7, NO, Student)

‘To equip students to think and act wisely in religion.’ (D8, AR, Lecturer)

‘The purpose of providing religious moderation learning is to provide a comprehensive, comprehensive understanding of everyday life. A genuine moderate attitude, understanding and responding to every phenomenon that exists wisely and wisely. Moderate in thinking, moderate in behavior, moderate in action, and moderate in religion.’ (D1, MY, Lecturer)

Responding to the phenomenon of division between religious communities

Some of the other participants responded that the integration of the concept of religious moderation in educational institutions is an effort by the government to suppress the phenomenon of violence and radicalism under the pretext of religion:

‘So that students can respond critically to the development of the times. So that students are free and understand that it is easy to compartmentalize human beings, especially religious people.’ (D6, AH, Lecturer)

‘The purpose of religious moderation is to prevent conflict and as social control in spiritual life, respecting differences of opinion as long as they do not conflict with the Qur’an and Sunnah. The most important thing is to maintain the unity of the nation and state, even though they differ in ethnicity, race, and religion.’ (M1, SHA, Student)

‘I realise order in religious communities, protecting the rights of religious adherents in exercising religious freedom, realizing peace and tranquility in religious life, and realising the people’s welfare. Religious.’ (M5, FS, Student)

Strengthening commitment to Pancasila

Most participants stated that the primary purpose of teaching religious moderation is to foster patriotism and a high commitment to Pancasila among students to realise national unity and integrity:

‘The Indonesian Islamic community already has a wasathiyah understanding of religion. Islamic community understand that religion must love and care for each other. However, religious moderation becomes very important if it is brought in efforts to maintain the nation’s existence, unity, and integrity.’ (D3, AK, Lecturer)

‘Religious moderation learning focuses on creating a just and balanced life between religion and the state. On the one hand, religion is a Shari’a that must be implemented and maintained. Still, the state is also an organization that cannot be separated from religious values in its sustainability. Moderation takes part in the wasathiyah attitude in college through Islamic Religious Education courses.’ (D2, NC, Lecturer)

‘Religious moderation learning strengthens students’ character by practicing stronger Pancasila values. Thus, students can have attitudes and behaviors that respect each other.’ (D4, RB, Lecturer)

‘Religious moderation can be an integrated curriculum combining multiculturalism education, religious studies, and religious moderation to provide understanding and knowledge and a moderate perspective and attitude. Of course, also moves students to obey Pancasila and commit to our country’s existing constitution.’ (D5, MU, Lecturer)

‘To balance, harmonize, or interpret religious values more flexibly, not rigidly, and by Pancasila values.’ (M2, SR, Student)


In line with the objectives of learning religious moderation, participants agreed that three primary values must be conveyed in religious moderation learning: internal harmony between religious communities, inter-religious harmony, and inter-religious harmony with the government in the form of a commitment to Pancasila.

Internal harmony of religious people

A small number of participants focused on the diversity problem of Muslim sects and organisations. Pluralism in Islam also carries the potential danger of division. Thus, learning by introducing different schools of thought and providing a contextual interpretation of the Qur’an must be performed:

‘I studied schools of madhab in Islam and religious organizations in Islam.’ (M12, NA, Student)

‘Which one is naql and ‘aql, which one is qath’i, which is mutaghayyir, and which is sacred and private? Which things must be understood textually [historically] and contextually [reality].’ (D6, AH, Lecturer)

‘The content that must be introduced is the material in the religious books of the Salaf, the interpretation of the Qur’an, and also using the guidebook for internalizing religious moderation, which also discusses the internal harmony of Islam.’ (D1, MY, Lecturer)

Inter-religious harmony

Most participants stated that the content in learning religious moderation is tolerance for people of different religions and Islam as a religion of peace. Religious moderation must be shown starting from the neighbouring scope to cover a broader range in regional and national. Specifically, the content that can be given is how to be gentle and consider all aspects:

‘The topic that needs to emerge is tolerance between religious communities and how to establish inter-religious harmony.’ (D4, RB, Lecturer)

‘Content that provides education regarding how everyone respects existing religions.’ (M4, UC, Student)

‘The content of implementing religious moderation in daily life. For example, in interacting and communicating with friends of different religions.’ (M15, PZ, Student)

‘Tolerance between neighbors is a small moderation application, but the concept is the most crucial.’ (M6, AW, Student)

‘The content of religious moderation that is important to learn is how to tolerate other religions so as not to assume that other people’s faith is wrong and our religion is the most correct and vice versa.’ (M7, NO, Student)

‘The content in the book emphasizes students’ understanding of various Islamic teachings, that are rahmatan lil ‘alamin.’ (D2, NC, Lecturer)

‘The content or topic is undoubtedly related to internalizing the central values of religious moderation, for example, how to be gentle and consider all aspects.’ (D1, MY, Lecturer)

Harmony between religious communities and the government

Another participant stated that instilling a love for the nation and state needs to be performed to avoid radicalism. In addition, they also agree that it is necessary to explain the Indonesian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion:

‘It covers any topic related to students’ daily lives that can lead to an attitude of moderation. Strengthening Pancasila values to avoid radicalism.’ (D7, MM, Lecturer)

‘Some of the content that can be raised regarding religious moderation is the constitutional recognition of the freedom to embrace religion and practice religion/belief.’ (M11, NA, Student)


Participants explained three strategies that lecturers can use to inculcate the values of religious moderation in students in the universities: IRE courses, integrated courses, and campus culture.

Islamic religious education course

Most participants chose religious moderation learning only through IRE courses. This learning method can involve discussions on the results of a case study or film review conducted by students in groups:

‘Each group made a paper related to the results of their case study and presented it in front of the class (discussion presentation).’ (D7, MM, Lecturer)

‘I usually form groups and ask them for discussions. In the end, I provide direct reinforcement.’ (D8, AR, Lecturer)

‘Case Study conducts social-religious project-based learning. This method aims to provide real and valuable experience in communicating moderate religious theory and action.’ (D1, MY, Lecturer)

‘I was asked to socialize, observe, and understand each person I met with a different religious background or a different Jam’iyyah and share my experiences in a short paper.’ (M5, NC, Student)

‘I asked students to observe the community to see religious phenomena and report them in a short report. They can confirm directly with religious, community, or interfaith leaders to confirm the information or material obtained in college.’ (D6, AH, Lecturer)

‘In addition to asking students to visit places of worship and have dialogues, for example, churches. I usually also give film surgery assignments to analyze the values of religious moderation.’ (D5, MU, Lecturer)

Integrated courses

A few participants expressed that religious moderation learning will be more robust when integrated with other character development courses:

‘I often use the team-based project learning model with other character development courses (Pancasila, citizenship, and Indonesian). In this project, I also apply a problem-solving model as a method that instills religious moderation values in students.’ (D2, NC, Lecturer)

‘I received several courses with the same topics, although with different perspectives. However, there is a common task to discuss comprehensively. For example, in the civics course initially discussed, then the material on religious moderation. In other courses, for example, religious studies contain religious moderation. Furthermore, in Usul al-fiqh course also discusses a location of an Islamic law related to religious moderation in current conditions.’ (M13, LF, Student)

‘In collaboration with other subject lecturers, I usually make moderation camps where there are various religions in one tent so that they force them to communicate and interact with other faiths. This collaboration instills religious values (Islamic religious education) and statehood (Pancasila education).’ (D5, MU, Lecturer)

Campus culture

Only a few participants stated that religious moderation could be instilled through campus culture. Campus culture can be implemented with the support of a robust system, for example, by establishing programmes supported by universities and through collaboration between different types:

‘We formed Pancasila Character Education in a way that new students were required to create a discussion room, totaling three people with several religions in it, at least two religions. Students are given several contemporary topics that are debated on a national scale. Students share opinions about the loss of their respective religions. Then, make conclusions and reflections.’ (D4, RB, Lecturer)

‘At our campus as an Islamic university, we implement various activities to foster a tolerant attitude towards people of different religions, for example, in collaboration with various Christian, Catholic, and Buddhist campuses to attend lectures or exchange students. Especially in the study of religions, there are often joint lectures with various universities with different religious beliefs. Our students also study at these “non-Muslim” campuses. This can make students more mature in responding to differences and diversity.’ (D3, AK, Lecturer)


Religious moderation has become a general discussion in Indonesian society, including the higher education curriculum. The rise of a rigid and exclusive understanding of conservative Islam has brought the concept of religious moderation as one of the main competencies that must be achieved by every student (Jubba et al. 2022). Religious moderation is essential to teach students to prevent them from falling into extreme conservativism and liberalism (Arif 2021). Religious moderation can create an open environment for sharing views among students from different religious backgrounds (Nkuna 2021; Sihombing, Abdullah & Prasojo 2020), creating a harmonious and peaceful community (Faisal et al. 2022). In other words, students are prepared to understand religious diversity from the start (Bowling 2021) to deal with the secularisation process and the increasing understanding of radicalism (Muhammad & Hiariej 2021).

However, the IRE curriculum still seems to focus on redesigning pedagogical organisations and knowledge transmission (Ali et al. 2021; Kondrakova 2018; Naeve et al. 2008), which can be seen in classroom learning activities and has not considered socio-psychological developments, such as outdoor activities that emphasise interfaith dialogue. In other words, many universities continue to teach religion as a doctrine (Ali et al. 2021; Mu’ti 2023). This approach places less emphasis on the humanistic aspects of religion and the understanding of different religious phenomena in society (Ali et al. 2021). The lack of a humanistic approach is allegedly because of the absence of a clear curriculum framework for teaching religious moderation to undergraduate students.

Therefore, as our initial data, this research is interesting because it aims to link religious moderation with the work of the higher education curriculum by exploring the perceptions of lecturers and students about learning religious moderation. Thus, the purpose of the analysis that we have carried out is to determine the objectives of teaching religious moderation, the content of the curriculum, the strategies a lecturer can employ, and how lecturers and students are involved in the overall learning process.

Aligning views on religion and non-religion

Based on the reviews submitted by participants, there are at least three objectives of learning religious moderation. Firstly, this study offers a context in which each student needs to strengthen their faith and ability to worship. Religious competence means theoretically understanding worship procedures and practising them properly and correctly. Students must be able to articulate themselves as Muslims practise traditions, norms, and religious beliefs, including how we read and interpret the Qur’an (Ho 2021). In other words, the first goal is for personal fulfilment through the Islamic faith and building a mono-religious space.

Secondly, religious moderation learning is intended to promote ethical and moral values in the context of dealing with people of different religious backgrounds. This goal is based on the theory of personal formation (von Brömssen, Ivkovits & Nixon 2020), where students need to be aware of their background, that is, understand that they exist and grow in a plural and diverse society. If viewed from a sociocultural perspective, religious moderation learning emphasises how students can develop their identity as Muslims and Indonesians who are known to have high religious tolerance. In this second goal, social issues and religious education diversity are also necessary (Viinikka, Ubani & Lipiäinen 2022).

Thirdly, the objective is to develop religious literacy by considering aspects of morality in the context of nationality. Religious moderation learning is expected to be able to promote students as part of a society that loves the nation more and is committed to Pancasila. This goal is to provide opportunities for students to develop themselves related to their religious teachings, traditions, culture, and the practice of Pancasila values. Thus, religious moderation is a civic competence to help create informed and engaged citizens (Walker, Chan & McEver 2021). Religion is shown here as a ‘behaviour’ that can harmonise their views on religion and non-religion.

Teaching internal religious harmony is the root of implementing religious moderation on campus

Based on the statements of the lecturers and students, the content put forward in learning religious moderation is harmony and tolerance between religious communities. The current situation can challenge the range of religious moderation because it is embedded in the understanding of the word ‘different’ both in religion, tradition, and procedures so that there is no assumption that other people’s religion is wrong and that one’s religion is the most correct or vice versa. This is also related to the inculcation of Pancasila values, which must be studied as an ethical model and mentioned about religion. In Indonesia, the acknowledgement of the freedom to embrace religion and practise religion or belief is clearly stated in the constitution. It emphasised a mandate of law that every citizen must carry out. Thus, universities are responsible for offering constitutional-friendly learning of religious moderation (Walker et al. 2021).

Finally, the participants also emphasised that the content of internal harmony among religious people is fundamental to harmony among Muslims and is essential to respect other religious groups.This harmony can be taught by introducing schools of schools and religious organisations in Indonesia. The hallmark of Indonesian Islam is the importance of mass organisations with tens of millions of followers (Lukens-Bull & Woodward 2020). This also impacts teaching a contextual interpretation of the Qur’an and hadith for deradicalisation (Hanafi et al. 2022a). In line with the statement (Seiple & Hoover 2021) that our understanding of ourselves is often under-emphasised as a starting point in religious literacy education, whereas how we perceive the world and other people is shaped by the values instilled by our community. Thus, religious moderation can be achieved by starting with oneself and how it is applied globally with others in the context of the nation and state (Seiple 2018).

Teaching religious moderation through strengthening campus culture

Most participants stated that religious moderation was taught in IRE courses. The methods that are often used to create a dialogue space between students are case studies and presentation discussions. Case studies can help students to contextualise and criticise information based on the paradigms of world religions (Marcus 2021). Meanwhile, discussion can provide support for students to manage class dialogue and students’ interest in exploring differences (O’Grady & Jackson 2020). These methods are expected to help students connect meaning-making in IRE by fostering respect and tolerance for people of other religions (Unstad & Fjørtoft 2021). To what extent these methods can be successful is determined by certain factors, namely teacher instructions, types of activities, and lecturer dialogue strategies (Vrikki et al. 2019).

Another strategy carried out by the participants was that IRE courses were integrated with other courses on Pancasila, citizenship, and the Indonesian language. Participants call for action to incorporate civic education with religion on campus. Educators should offer citizenship classes on world religions and integrate religious literacy education in many relevant subjects (Walker et al. 2021). In other words, the dilution of confessional religious teachings in the general education system (e.g. citizenship and Indonesian) can be used to tolerate student behaviour (Ilie 2018).

Many universities still need to carry out the implementation of religious moderation through campus culture. As stated by the participants, campus culture can be created by creating discussion spaces between students of different religions and other campuses. This effort can be made with the support of national policies and how campuses can see the concept of cultural and religious plurality in their area (Akkari & Radhouane 2022). The university must have a vision and mission aware of diversity by emphasising three things: acting with conscience, respecting pluralism, and harmoniously juxtaposing religion and state (Chauvigné 2017).


This research utilised a qualitative approach so that all participants could provide their views and opinions about learning religious moderation. The sample from various universities in Indonesia is another strength of this study. While our work can help others learn from participants’ thoughts and actions, this study also has some limitations. This research was only conducted on 8 lecturers and 15 students. In addition, many factors can limit the validity of this study. Firstly, the study employed a purposive sampling technique; thus, the sample does not represent the wider population. In other words, these findings cannot be generalised and applied to different contexts. Secondly, the interview technique has the advantage that uniformity of views among participants is less common. Still, this technique can also cause problems because participants may need further help expressing their opinions. Thirdly, each participant is a variable, so the idea of the same person may differ on different days. Finally, the interviews were conducted entirely in Indonesian. Thus, the translation may need to be adequate because of the lack of proper equivalents.


In brief, three main findings are obtained from research on the objectives, content, and strategies for teaching religious moderation in higher education. Regarding the goals, lecturers believe that teaching religious moderation seeks to form students who are wise in religion and committed to implementing Pancasila values. Another finding is that the content that must be prepared for students using the spiral and multilevel method is internal harmony between religions, inter-religions, and the government. Lecturers can internalise religious moderation in three ways, namely IRE courses, integrated courses, and through campus culture.


The authors would like to thank Universitas Negeri Malang for all facilities provided to support this research.

Competing interests

The author(s) declare that they have no financial or personal relationship(s) that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

Y.H., M.S., T.N.D., M.A.I. and M.T.Y. conceptualised and designed the study.

M.T.Y., O.A.S., A.E.A., I.S.R. and M.A.I. contributed materials to the study.

Y.H., M.T.Y., O.A.S., A.E.A., I.S.R. and M.A.I. performed the analyses, followed by Y.H., M.S. and T.N.D. who analysed and interpreted the data and wrote the article.

Funding information

This research received a grant from the Institute of Research and Community Service (IRCS), Universitas Negeri Malang. Grant number: 5.4.1/UN32/KP/2023.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


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