Research Projects

Here at the Center we have a wide variety of current research investigating the sociology of religion. Below, we discuss our projects on the Science of Generosity, Christian education in the US and Canada, American youth and religion, congregations and immigration, marriage and divorce, American religion and ethnicity, critical realism and human personhood, Air Force chapels, humanitarian volunteerism, and multiple modenities.  Our new Undergraduate Fellows Program promotes unique opportunites for undergraduate scholarship in the social scientific study of religion. There is also an archive of past projects.

SCIENCE OF GENEROSITY (SciGen)
Christian Smith led a research team in analyzing data from a nationally-representative Internet-based survey on generosity and related topics, and from in-depth, household interviews and family ethnographies with 40 of the survey respondents in 12 U.S. cities. The analysis is almost complete and will result in conference presentations, 1+ books, 7+ papers, and 1 and possibly more dissertation(s). The data will also be released to the public later this year. This project is funded by the Science of Generosity grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Kraig Beyerlein is working on a number of projects using these data. He is currently revising a manuscript on the effect of religion on blood donation for the Sociology of Religion. He also has two other papers under review. The first (with Kelly Bergstrand –University of Arizona graduate student) analyzes dyads to understand why certain people but not others are recruited to donate blood, volunteer time, and engage in political activism. The second (with Jeff Sallaz –University of Arizona faculty) focuses on the relationship between religion and gambling. Kraig is also exploring (with John R. Hipp of UC-Irvine) how the larger religious context affects people’s generosity. Kraig and John will present a paper on their findings at the upcoming Society for the Scientific Study of Religion annual meetings. He has worked with 1 graduate student on this project this year.

NATIONAL STUDY OF YOUTH AND RELIGION (NSYR)
Christian Smith and staff are wrapping up the final year of this project. Christian Smith co-authored a flagship book "Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults, In, Out Of, and Gone from the Church" with Kyle Longest, Jonathan Hill, and Kari Chirstoffersen. Analysis of the fourth wave of data is now underway and we expect to make the data available to the public in 2016. Work on this project included collaboration with researchers from Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, Williams College, Clemson College, and USC.

PARENTAL CULTURES AND PRACTICES OF INTERGENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION OF RELIGIOUS FAITH TO CHILDREN
Christian Smith started this project to pick up where NSYR left off, to determine what parents are saying and doing to influence their children’s religious lives. Interviews with parents of (mostly) school-age children began in the summer of 2014, and will conclude this summer. Four (4) graduate students and 30 undergraduates are working on this project.

CARDUS EDUCATION STUDY
David Sikkink is directing this project which is conducting empirical research aimed at understanding students’ experiences in and outcomes as a result of attending religious schools, both in terms of difference within the religious school sector, and between religious and secular schools. David and his team have begun collecting and analyzing student, teacher, parent, and alumni data in order to assist schools in assessing their own practices and success in achieving their organizational goals.

CARDUS RELIGOUS SCHOOL INITIATIVE
Directed by David Sikkink, this project conducts empirical research aimed at understanding students’ experiences in and outcomes as a result of attending religious schools, both in terms of differences within the religious school sector, and between religious and secular schools. In addition to conducting original research analyzing data about Protestant and Catholic school students, as well as students who were homeschooled for all or part of their pre-college academic careers, CRSI has begun a new project of collecting and analyzing student, teacher, parent, and alumni data in order to assist schools in assessing their own practices and success in achieving their organizational goals.

U.S. BORDERLAND PROJECT
Kraig Beyerlein is currently completing a book manuscript (“Flooding the Desert: Faith-Based Mobilizing to Save Lives Along the Sonora-Arizona Border”) on the causes and consequences of congregations’ involvement in the humanitarian aid movement in Southern Arizona. Two Notre Dame graduate students have provided crucial support for this research. With support from the Spencer Foundation, he just finished a project following-up prior volunteers to better understand how their humanitarian service affects their later civic participation and other life outcomes. Finally, Kraig again collaborated with the Center for Social Concerns to teach their Border Issues Seminar, which included a week-long immersion trip to the México-Untied States Border in which 14 undergraduate students participated.

INSTITUTE FOR CHURCH LIFE
John Cavadini with the partnership of Christian Smith and CSRS continued the Catholic Social and Pastoral Research Initiative in the Institute for Church Life here at UND. One major report on Catholic voluntary financial giving was published this year.

NATIONAL STUDY OF PROTEST EVENTS (NSPE)
Kraig Beyerlein collected the first-ever, nationally-representative sample of protest events in the United States using the hypernetwork sampling method. The overview paper (co-authored with three Notre Dame graduate students) has been revised and resubmitted to the Sociological Methods and Research. Two (2) graduate students and four (4) undergraduates helped with data cleaning and coding. Kraig also presented a paper on the role of religion in protest events at last year’s annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) in Indianapolis. The NSPE is funded by the Science of Generosity grant from the John Templeton Foundation as well as an internal grant from the Kroc Institute. 

AIR FORCE ACADEMY CHAPEL STUDY
Mary Ellen Konieczny and Megan Rogers received a revise and resubmit for their paper on the USAFA Freethinkers Group from JSSR, and have submitted a revised version of the paper to that journal. With funding from Jack Shand and CSRS, Mary Ellen conducted two research trips to USAFA; she now has collected a total of 57 interviews and over 9000 pages of archival and other documentary data. The project has also been funded by the Louisville Institute and by grants from ISLA and the Office of Research. Mary Ellen submitted an application for an NEH fellowship in April 2015, which is the basis of the book proposal she is planning to submit to Oxford University Press. She will pursue small grants in AY2015-16 to fund the final portion of data collection remaining.

CIVIC AND MORAL FORMATION IN 10 SCHOOL SECTORS
The 10 Case Studies project, based at the University of Virginia, now has a quantitative dimension based at Notre Dame. With a $211,000 grant, David Sikkink and Sara Skiles are designing and conducting surveys with students, teachers, and parents in 54 selected schools for the 10CS project. The goal of the project is to better understand moral and civic formation processes in a diverse set of schools, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, and various types of nonreligious schools.

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE, CONFLICT AND FAITY STUDY
Data collection for this project is now complete, and Mary Ellen Konieczny has produced three papers from this project which have been submitted to journals. The paper Mary Ellen coauthored grad student Karen Hooge and Elexis Ellis (Yale) has received a revise and resubmit from Qualitative Sociology, and a second, sole authored paper has received a revise and resubmit from Sociology of Religion. Mary Ellen and Karen Hooge have submitted a third paper to Journal of Contemporary Religion and are awaiting a decision on that paper.

NONPROFITS AND PROVERTY: DIVERSE APPROACHES AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES
Ines Jindra and Michael Jindra continue work on this project which was funded by the Center for Social Concerns, University of Notre Dame. 

A VIRTUE ETHICS PERSPECTIVE ON STRESS AND HUMAN FLOURISHING IN YOUNG ADULTHOOD
This is a three-year, mixed-methods project led by Dr. Margarita Mooney of Yale University and Dr. Nicolette Manglos-Weber. Their objective is to study the conditions of human flourishing among young adults from the philosophical perspective of virtue ethics. One of their primary goals is to assess how relational attachments in different areas—family, romantic, peer, and religious-based—interact with each other and contribute to holistic well-being. They have developed and tested measures of the latent construct of “Attachment to God,” in order to accurately assess individuals’ perceived interactive relationship with the divine. They have also conducted 50 interviews with NSYR respondents on stressful events, spirituality, relationships, and over wellbeing, and are currently analyzing these data for publication.

OUR LADY OF KIBEHO
Mary Ellen Konieczny conducted exploratory research for her third book project during a faculty development trip to East Africa this summer, and a review of related literature last summer and fall. The topic surrounds Marian apparitions in East Africa and their cultural and political significance. The focal case is Our Lady of Kibeho, an apparition that took place in Rwanda in 1981, and the only Church approved apparition in Africa. 

POLARIZATION IN THE US CATHOLIC CHURCH CONFERENCE
Mary Ellen Konieczny organized and hosted this two day conference that explored the brokenness of the body of Christ in the United States. This conference hosted a diverse group of Catholics that came together to name the wounds – with the goal of beginning to heal. The panel addressed the question of “How can we heal the division and reestablish the virtues of solidarity, love, and humility at the heart of the Christian message.”

PROJECT FOR THE STUDY OF LATINO RELIGION
The Project seeks to advance the social scientific study of Latino religion. It specifically seeks to understand the role of religion in civic and political life, its impact on educational aspirations and achievement among youth, the training of religious leaders, and the social service role of Latino congregations.Directed by Dr. Edwin I. Hernandez, the Project was previously known as the Center for the Study of Latino Religion, which over the last decade conducted research on Latino religious leadership, theological training, education, congregations, and political engagement (see http://latinostudies.nd.edu/research-publications/publications/#religion for a list of publications). This work has been supported by generous grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts, Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, Louisville Institute, Annie E. Casey, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.One of the major research efforts under way is dissemination of the findings from the Chicago Latino Congregations Study (CLCS), a multi-level comprehensive study of Latino congregations, clergy, lay leadership, and parishioners (adults and youth) (see http://latinostudies.nd.edu/assets/95266/original/clcsmethodology_paper_final1.pdf for a description of the methodology).The researchers initially compiled a comprehensive population list of the religious universe of metropolitan Chicago Latino congregations defined as having 50 percent Latino participants for Protestant churches and 30 percent or more for Catholic parishes. The study is based on a stratified sample of 84 congregations representing Catholic, Mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal traditions. In all, the CLCS includes congregational level and Latino religious leader data for 84 congregation as well as 2,368 adults from 74 of the congregations and 607 youth from 63 of the congregations.

SOUTHERN ARIZONA CONGREGATIONS STUDY
The Southern Arizona Congregations Study is a project led by Dr. Kraig Beyerlein which studies congregation-based mobilization efforts to provide humanitarian aid to migrants along the Sonora-Arizona border.

THE PANEL STUDY ON AMERICAN RELIGION AND ETHNICITY (PS-ARE)
The PS-ARE is an unprecedented, multi-level panel study focused on religion in the U.S., with a particular focus on capturing ethnic and racial diversity. The PS-ARE seeks to show the impact of religion in everyday life. It includes substantive modules on family relationships, deviance, health, civic participation and volunteering, moral and social attitudes, and race and ethnic issues. In time, this panel study is expected to develop into a multi-wave longitudinal study comprising both individual and congregational level data. The PS-ARE, which is directed by Dr. David Sikkink, generously funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., involves additional funding from the John Templeton Foundation, and is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Michael Emerson at Rice University. Learn more at www.ps-are.org.

CRITICAL REALISM AND HUMAN PERSONHOOD IN SOCIAL SCIENCES PROJECT
This collaborative project, led by Dr. Christian Smith, is exploring non-reductionistic accounts of the nature of the human person as they relate to the work of the social sciences. The project is gathering together interdisciplinary groups of scholars in sociology, psychology, political science, philosophy, theology, and law to discuss key questions toward developing new theoretical models of the nature of human personhood in ways that might improve theoretical and empirical work in the social sciences. 

HUMANITARIAN SERVICE YOUNG ADULT VOLUNTEER PROJECT
Dr. Kraig Beyerlein works with Notre Dame undergraduate students to participate in an alternative spring break trip along the Arizona-Mexico border.

THE “MULTIPLE MODERNITIES” PROJECT
This collaborative project, led by Dr. Christian Smith, is exploring and developing through working groups, seminars, and focused research projects the theoretical idea of multiple modernities—particularly, though not exclusively, as it relates to religious and moral life—around the world. Multiple modernities provides a theoretical and analytical framework for understanding cultural and institutional social change at the global, national, and sub-cultural levels that represents an alternative to both traditional modernization and secularization theories as well as to the theory of post-modernism.

UNDERGRADUATE FELLOWS PROGRAM
The Undergraduate Fellows Program in the Center for the Study of Religion and Society is focused on mentoring undergraduate scholars in the social scientific study of religion. The Fellows will be equipped to explore the possibility of becoming academic scholars in a variety of disciplines and fields. Each Fellow will spend a year conducting their own funded research project of personal interest and writing a paper based on their findings, presented at a public forum at the end of the school year. Combined with this independent research Fellows will also be mentored by a faculty member. In addition to these goals, they will also participate in the Center’s events, attending meetings, lectures, and awards ceremonies. By the time the year-long Fellowship has been completed, Fellows will have had the opportunity to research a religion-related topic of personal interest in a supportive and resource-rich context, to participate in an intellectual community of scholars interested in religion and society, to learn more about what life as a religion-research academic scholar is like, and to prepare for possible application to top graduate programs that involve the study of religion. For more information, click here Fellows_call_for_application_2014.pdf.

Sign up for our regular email list to receive updates on Center activities at csrsoc@nd.edu.

Last updated on June 24, 2015