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. His manuscript on the effect of religion on blood donation is forthcoming in the Sociology of Religion. Another paper (with Jeff Sallaz –University of Arizona faculty) focuses on the relationship between religion and gambling. This paper currently has a Revise and Resubmit from Social Science Research.  A paper with Kelly Bergstrand (University of Texas-Arlington faculty) that analyzes dyads to understand why certain people but not others are recruited to donate blood, volunteer time, and engage in political activism is under review. Kraig is also investigating (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 American Sociological Association annual meetings. He has worked with 2 graduate students on this project this year.

National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR)

Analysis of the fourth and final wave of data for this 12-year study of adolescent and young adult religious behavior and belief is underway.  Work on this project currently involves researchers from University of Texas San Antonio, University of Southern California, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, Purdue, University of Toronto, Baylor, BYU, Stanford, Furman, University of Cologne (Germany), University of Oklahoma, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Wheaton College, Calvin College, and Notre Dame, among others.

Undergraduate Fellow 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.

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.”

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.

Northern Indiana Congregation Study (NICS)

This project conducted year-long ethnographic research with 4 local religious congregations, collected participant observation field notes on 241 services, events, meetings, and groups and collected and transcribed 198 in-person interviews, with an 88 % response rate. Data analysis has produced 12 papers for conference presentations and journal articles.

Southern Arizona Congregations Study

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

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.

South Bend Area Youth and Religion (SBAYR)

As a local extension of the National Survey of Youth and Religion (NSYR) project, this year the CSRS completed a project focused on the South Bend area surrounding the University of Notre Dame. The project team created a directory of local churches, contacted all South Bend area churches to collect some basic information regarding the church and their youth program, and conducted and analyzed in-depth personal interviews with 42 youth workers.

Religion Survey Data Expansion Project (RelSDEP)

Funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for a project on “Innovative Research on Generosity”, the RelSDEP project increased the availability of a large number of top quality survey dataset resources for the study of religion and spirituality and to increase the number of capable social science scholars analyzing religious and spiritual factors in the operation of human social life. The collaborative project committee of highly experienced social science survey researchers with interests in religion and spirituality will comparatively evaluate the merits of specific new or revised religion and spirituality survey questions and investigate well established, high quality, and highly respected existing surveys on which these questions could be placed.

The Religious Financial and Charitable Giving Project 

This project conducted secondary analyses of survey data and primary data collection through personal interviews to better understand patterns and dynamics of religious and charitable giving in the U.S., particularly among American Christians. This project conducted secondary analyses of survey data and primary data collection through personal interviews to better understand patterns and dynamics of religious and charitable giving in the U.S., particularly among American Christians. This project continued through the 2007-08 academic year with 1) finalization of the publication of a book by Oxford University Press to be released the following fall and 2) promotion and presentation of book findings through conferences, colloquia, and talks.

Religion and Public Activism Survey (RAPAS)

The 2002 RAPAS telephone surveyed English-speaking American adults from April to July 2002 using a random-digit-dial method to understand volunteering for 9/11 disaster relief efforts and religion and social trust.

Religious School Outcomes Study (RSOS)

The RDV Corporation funded seed money to begin gathering data for a religious school outcomes study through web programming, sampling, and data collection.


Cardus Education Study

The Cardus Education Study, funded by Cardus, a North American think tank based in Canada interested in learning more about the functioning of religious schools, is designed to investigate 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. Four waves of data have been collected thus far (two in the US and two in Canada), and a third wave of the US survey is currently being fielded, with a particular emphasis on CENTER ANNUAL REPORT 17/18 2 outcomes related to higher education. In addition, CSRS staff are also collecting data for a project similar to CES in Canada focused specifically on examining outcomes in each Canadian province, with the goal of giving educational administrators and other policy makers in each province usable data with which to evaluate their schools and plan for the future.

Independent School Research Initiative at Notre Dame

The Independent School Research Initiative at Notre Dame is supported by Cardus, a North American think tank based in Canada interested in learning more about the functioning of religious schools.  It is a project of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, within the Sociology Department at the University of Notre Dame. Founded in 2010, and directed by David Sikkink, ISRI is a non-partisan research organization. Its mission is to generate new theoretical and empirical tools for understanding religious schools and provide information to leaders and educators across school sectors providing models for successful education.


Religious School Assessment Study

CRSI is working with several religious schools in Canada to assist with assessment of such topics as educational initiatives, parent satisfaction, and teacher engagement to assist schools in assessing their own practices and success in achieving their organizational goals.