PILGRIM – Living Consciously – Giving Future

Johann Hisch

The project PILGRIM-School* started in 2003 after an enthusiastic ecumenical and interreligious pilot-programme: sustainability and religion(s) – a pilgrimage. Teachers and pupils of various school types in Austria started a new vision about the world with the centre-point of spirituality.

“Save the earth” was the slogan for the preparation of the talks in Johannesburg 2002. But isn’t this a kind of hybris of human being, who knows how the earth functions. Isn’t the situation of the earth (climate, water, pollution, etc.) through all the work of human beings?

Therefore Francis X. D’Sa from Pune, India, transformed the slogan into: “Serve the earth” -  to see the earth not as an object for everyone and everybody’s misuse. The new view is to see the earth as a kind of personal being, a kind of subject. New pedagogical values are necessary to provide and promote: respect, response and care. The way to find these new virtues is: look, listen and learn.



The PILGRIM-project aims to stimulate ideas of sustainable development using different means such as a co-operation among different world religions and philosophical approaches. Furthermore it integrates the discourse in-between science, the dialog between religions, their approach to the topic of sustainability, educational institutions, and the general public.
The main idea is that spirituality is the way to see ecology – economy – social affairs as ways for transcendence shining through the reality. When world so is seen as creation of God everybody should answer with respect, responsibility and care. In this view all confessions and religions giving religious education in our schools are invited to cooperate with various subjects in these projects.


In the way of cooperating all subjects in one topic (for example: water in the view of religions and sciences) it is a way of transdisciplinary learning. Also all pupils of all nationalities are working together – and so PILGRIM shows a new way of integration in social dimension in the schools.


This pedagogical issue leads to the dimension of intercultural learning and interreligious dialogue. The topic is the centre and each pupil gives his experience and view from cultural and religious background of his country. This brings new chances for the interreligious dialogue – in the way working together in one topic pupils get a new vision of culture and religion.
For the subject of religious education PILGRIM is a chance for special relevance and issues for RE in schools. The schools by themselves get a new reputation through RE and public relations in society.
Now in 2014 we are in the eleventh year of being spread out over Austria in all types of schools, private and state schools. 161 schools and institutions have been already certified with PILGRIM, even six Pedagogical Colleges. Since 2012 in The Netherlands and in Poland are pedagogical institutions involved in the PILGRIM-movement.
In recent years the federal ministries for education, for research, and for agriculture have shown interest in our programmes and expect reports and results from PILGRIM: Spirituality seems to be also one way that things can be changed. Pupils and students as the next generation will get a new view with „sacra mente” of the world. Maybe this is a starting point for a „constructive subversion”…

* PILGRIM: old-german, engl: the pilgrim, guest in this world

Contact:  Johann Hisch, Managing Director, School-Advisor I
Society of the Friends of PILGRIM I Stephansplatz 3/IV I 1010 Vienna – Austria I ZVR 967414110 I office@pilgrim.at I www.pilgrim.at        05.2014

PILGRIM-folder (PDF)