Public Defence: Ragnhild Laird Iversen

Ragnhild Laird Iversen will defend her PhD degree in Pedagogical Resources and Learning Processes. The thesis is about Children's navigation of religion in kindergarten.

27 May

Practical information

  • Date: 27 May 2024
  • Time: 10.00 - 15.00
  • Location: Drammen, Auditorium A5508
  • Download calendar file
  • Program

    10:00-10:45: Trial lecture: Discuss research-based knowledge about different kinds of diversity in Early Childhood Education teacher training. Relate the discussion to the research process and teaching practices.

    12:00-15:00: Public defence: Entusiasme og ubehag. Barns navigering av religion i barnehagen

    Join virtually: Zoom

    Candidate: Ragnhild Laird Iversen

    Defence Leader: leader of Departemenet of Culture, Religion and Social Studies, Jørn Varhaug, USN 

    Evaluation committee


    • Main supervisor: Associated Professor Audun Toft, USN
    • Co-supervisor: Professor Geir Skeie, Universitety of Stavanger 
    • Main supervisor first year: Associated Professor Christian Stokke, USN
Any questions?

Ragnhild Laird Iversen will defend her PhD degree in Pedagogical Resources and Learning Processes. The doctoral work has been carried out at the Faculty of Humanities, Sports, and Educational Science.

Ragnhild Laird Iversen. Foto

  • Title of thesis: Entusiasme og ubehag. Barns navigering av religion i barnehagen
  • Read the thesis here ( 

You are welcome to follow the trial lecture and the public defence on campus.

Join virtually: Zoom


Children in kindergartens may understand religion quite differently from adults. The Elf on the shelf may be a real figure, the church may be seen as a house for old people, a call to prayer may sound like mermaids singing, and halal may be the name of a dance. In this thesis, I investigate how religions and worldviews are expressed in children's sayings, doings and belongings in a kindergarten, and how the context of kindergarten may shape children's navigation of religions and worldviews.

The data were collected using ethnographic principles and consist of field notes from observations and group interviews with children conducted in the period March 2019 – June 2020. Children's sayings, doings and belongings are examined within three settings: First, in connection with Christmas preparations. This is an example of a holiday with great impact in Norwegian kindergartens. Secondly, in connection with mealtime practices. This is an example of everyday situations relevant to religious diversity. Third, in connection with the development and exploration of artifact-based religious conversations as a didactic approach to work with religious diversity.

The thesis consists of four published articles. They all provide empirical and theoretical contributions to the topic of religion in kindergarten. The articles are discussed collectively in the extended introduction of the thesis. Here, the concept of social navigation and theory of practice architectures are used to discuss the relationship between children's navigation of religion, and the importance of the institutional contexts that exist within the kindergarten. The analyses show how children creatively navigate religion with both enthusiasm and discomfort.

The thesis shows contradictions between pedagogical ideals and everyday practices within the kindergarten. This has consequences for children's understanding of religion and impacts their space for navigating religion. Even when the intention is to put children at the center, adults possess the greatest power of definition when religion is navigated in kindergarten. The children show participation through different navigations of religion, and by creating their own working theories that explain expressions of religion they encounter in kindergarten. Even so, the thesis shows that the interaction between children's backgrounds and kindergarten practice architectures affects children's opportunities for participation, belonging and learning. At the same time, the thesis shows how staff members work to prevent exclusion through inclusive practices. Staff contribute to creating a kindergarten environment where religion appears irrelevant to the children's friendship. Overall, the thesis contributes to the study of religion in kindergartens both theoretically and empirically. Perspectives from religious studies contribute to new understandings of kindergarten practices, while the empirically grounded discussions contribute to the field of religious education and to increased understanding of how young children navigate religion in an important institutional context.