Current Research

One of my current primary research projects is the Science of Generosity project. The aim of this initiative is to stimulate scientific research on the practice of generosity in human life and society. This project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and supports a request for proposals intitiative and original research on generosity. The request for proposals initiative will award $3 million in grant-funded research projects in such discplines as anthropology, behavioral economics, business, communication and cultural studies, economics, education, family and developmental studies, finance, geography, law, psychology, political science, social psychology, sociobiology, and sociology. The original data collection project investigates patterns and dynamics of religious and charitable giving in the U.S., particularly among American Christians.




Another of my primary research projects is the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR). Funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., the NSYR is investigating the religious and spiritual practices and commitments of contemporary U.S. adolescents. The role of religion in shaping the lives of American youth has been inadequately understood and appreciated by many of the people and communities who work with youth. This longitudinal project employs a mix of survey and interview methods to examine the influences of religious commitments and practices in shaping the social, moral, and spiritual lives and outcomes of youth. It is designed to provide the first nationally-representative, broad, descriptive mapping of the religious beliefs, commitments, and practices of U.S. youth and emerging adults over time. The NSYR completed the third wave of data collection with the 18-24 year old survey and interview respondents in 2009.




Another of my primary research projects is the Northern Indiana Congregation Study (NICS). NICS studies the complexities of religious congregational involvement by examining religious congregations ethnographically. Data collection efforts consists of participant observations of relgious congregation services, meetings, events, and groups and in-person interviews with pastors, priests, parishioners,financial officers, lay leaders, youth who participate in activities of the church and their parents. The project is a locally-based extension of both the NSYR and Science of Generosity projects and connects in-depth ethnographic research on the attitudes and practices of American Christians to large-scale nationally representative findings on religious involvement and religiosity more generally. The project investigates how people think about being involved in their church, including youth activities and giving support via time and money.




Another of my primary research projects is the Religion Survey Data Expansion Project (RelSDEP). RelSDEP is designed to increase 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.




Another of my primary research projects is the Human Personhood and Social Sciences Project (HP). This project 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.





I am also currently leading the "Multiple Modernities" Project.  This collaborative project 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.