The University of British Columbia has launched major new research projects on religion and morality, terrorism and security, international relations in the digital age, free trade and sustainability, thanks to $3.8 million in new funding from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
Of the funding, nearly $3 million will support the world’s largest study on the evolution of religion and morality. Led by UBC Faculty of Arts Prof. Edward Slingerland, the six-year project will bring together researchers from 20 global institutions, including Harvard and Oxford, to advance our understanding of religion and its role in society.
“These ambitious projects will advance our understanding of important and timely issues, helping to advance quality of life for people across Canada and beyond,” says John Hepburn, UBC Vice President, Research and International.
Slingerland’s grant is the largest of the SSHRC partnership and partnership development grants announced today by Minister of State (Science and Technology) Gary Goodyear.
Other new SSHRC grants awarded to UBC researchers include:
- $200,000 to Prof. Dan Hiebert, Dept. of Geography, to establish a new Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society at UBC
- $196,500 to postgraduate researcher Taylor Owen to study International Relations in the Digital Age in collaboration with UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues, the Graduate School of Journalism and the Canadian International Council
- $200,000 to Prof. James Rochlin, a political scientist on UBC’s Okanagan campus, to study Human Security and the Colombia-Canada Free Trade Agreement
- A $65,000 grant to Prof. Leonora Angeles, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, to study Collaborative Governance Models for Urbanizing Watersheds in the Philippines.
UBC’s new project on religion and morality is named the Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium (CERC). The largest research project of its kind, CERC will involve more than 50 researchers from across North America, Europe and Asia and across such diverse fields as religious studies, anthropology, psychology, history, economics, biology, mathematics, philosophy and linguistics.
UBC Prof. Ted Slingerland, CERC lead researcher, says that religion is one of the least studied and most misunderstood aspects of human life, despite its central role in society.
“Recent literature tends to view religion as something dangerous or disposable,” Slingerland says. “In contrast, our hypothesis suggests that religion is key to the evolution of large-scale societies. By bringing together such a large, multidisciplinary team, we will be able to investigate crucial issues surrounding human religiosity in much more depth than has been previously possible.”
Slingerland says the project also proposes to re-envision how religious studies are conceived of, institutionally structured, and taught at UBC and elsewhere. “Thinking in creative ways about how to teach religion, to both undergraduates and graduate students, will help to establish Canada as a global leader in a crucial field of inquiry, creating a powerful synergy that combines world-class research, education and public outreach, he says.”
CERC is a project of UBC’s Centre for the Study of Human Evolution, Cognition and Culture. Other major CERC partner institutions include: Harvard University, Oxford University, University of Connecticut, Aarhus University (Denmark), Masaryk University (Czech Republic), Fudan University (Shanghai) and Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Today’s funding was announced at Congress 2012, Canada’s annual largest meeting for humanities and social scientists, which will occur May 26-June 2 in Waterloo, Ontario.
Learn more about CERC at: http://www.hecc.ubc.ca
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