Projects Underway

FOCAL AREA: MIGRATION

The Reception of Nonreligious Refugees

This project explores how nonreligion is constructed in the context of migrants’ settlement, including how the religious and nonreligious identies of migrants are framed in public policies and debates and how nonreligious migrants navigate nonreligious identities. The project examines how factors such as public assumptions about the religiosity of migrants, religious contexts in countries of origin and host countries, and ideas of community and belonging play a role in this construction.

The Migration team is focusing on refugee receiving organizations in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Nordic countries, and the United States, exploring how religion can shape and even obscure nonreligion and nonreligious identities in these contexts. The team has completed their literature review, project plan, and interview guides, and is beginning interviews with administrative staff at refugee receiving organizations.

Led by: Peter Beyer, Inger Furseth, Ryan Cragun

Working Group: Maximiliano Campana, Guilherme Borges, Helena Manfrinato, Iriana Sartor, Mehmet Basak, Sana Patel, Stian Alexander Skandsen, Geraldine Smith, Hugo Rabbia, Alyshea Cummins

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: MIGRATION

The Cultural and Social Values Survey

This project is constructing a survey instrument to better identify nonreligion positively – that is, examining what nonreligion is rather than what it is not. With this aim, the survey instrument explores peoples’ personal cultural and social values, including attitudes and behaviours on ethical questions and orientations towards politics, science, law, education, and life’s meaning. It also examines people’s involvement with religion, spirituality, and their identification with nonreligious labels such as atheism, agnosticism, humanism, etc.

The Cultural and Social Values Survey team has successfully completed a pilot survey in Canada and is in the process of data analysis. The team has developed surveys for Argentina and the United States, with surveys for Norway and Australia currently under development.

Led by: Peter Beyer, Inger Furseth, Ryan Cragun

Working Group: Douglas Ezzy, Maximiliano Campana, Jacob Legault-Leclair, Guilherme Borges, Sana Patel, Iriana Sartor, Helena Manfrinato, Al Hay, Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, Jenn Selby, Amelie Barras, Kati Tervo-Niemelä, Alyshea Cummins, Sivert Urstad, Hugo Rabbia

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: EDUCATION

How Do We Teach Religion in Diverse Societies?

This project examines how education about religion is changing within highly diverse countries that have a growing nonreligious population, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Brazil. Some of the guiding research questions in this project are: how schools, teachers, and religious education curricula imagine the “good citizen” and “common ground” through shared values; whether nonreligion is taken into account in education about religion; what is considered acceptable as nonreligion or religion/spirituality; and how religion, nonreligion, and values intersect in these contexts.

The Education team currently has 5 subprojects underway, which involve analyzing school websites in Canada and Great Britain and conducting a case study of innovative teaching training curricula in Paraná, Brazil.

Led by: Linda Woodhead, Paula Montero, Solange Lefebvre

Working Group: Henrique Antunes, Mathieu Colin, Charlotte Hobson, Guilherme Borges, Joseph Mikhael, Dirceu André Gerardi

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: ENVIRONMENT

Community Gardens

Community gardens are often the product of intentional communities creating spaces and relationships that aim to create changed or new ways of relating to each other and to nature. This project examines the nature of these relationships and considers how nonreligion and religion play out in their formation. The project also uses ‘community gardens’ in the broadest possible sense in order to think about issues like food security, food sovereignty and urban agriculture and more complex relationships like negotiating cultural difference, zoning and land use policies, community ownership, and the connection between land and racial justice.

The Community Gardens team has conducted interviews at community gardens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and analysis of the data is currently underway.

Led by: Douglas Ezzy, Lori Beaman

Working Group: Ryan Cragun, Rebecca Banham, Mathilde Vanasse-Pelletier, Alex McArthur, Alexander Burton, Giovanna Paccillo, Iriana Sartor, Kendall Stephenson, Lauren Strumos, Marziyeh Riazi, Mary Jo Neitz, Anna Salonen

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: ENVIRONMENT

Experiencing Nature During Physical Activities

This project takes hiking (trekking, walking, rambling) as its entry point with the purpose of examining how people understand their relationship to each other, nature and non-human animals. The project explores the experiences people have when they are hiking, how they make sense of them, whether or not these experiences prompt changes in their worldviews, and what this tells us about the constructions and boundaries of religious and nonreligious identities.

The Trekking team has launched surveys in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Analysis of the survey results and interviews with participants is ongoing.

Led by: Ryan Cragun, Douglas Ezzy, Lori Beaman

Working Group: Mathilde Vanasse-Pelletier, Rebecca Banham, Deniz Yildiz, Giovanna Paccillo, Guadalupe Allione Riba, Lauren Strumos, Misha Hoo, Kendall Stephenson, Hallie Robinson, Kati Tervo-Niemelä, Netta Ronnigen

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: HEALTH

Obituaries

This project analyzes obituaries and death notices from newspapers over the past century. Obituaries are a genre of writing that serve a social function, revealing how people want their loved ones to be remembered and/or celebrated. This project explores transformations within this genre, both over time and by regional context, and examines how changes in the information people share – locations of funerals, notable accomplishments, affiliations, and connections – reflect the changing terrain of religious and nonreligious identities and outlooks.

The Obituary team has completed collection of death notices from Canadian newspapers from 1900 to the present. Coding and analysis of this data is ongoing.

Led by: Lori Beaman

Working Group: Chris Miller, Achintya Shree Vijay Sai, Hannah McKillop, Sohini Ganguly, Brian Clarke

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: HEALTH

Death Cafés

Since 2011, more than 15,000 Death Cafés have been hosted in over 80 countries. These ‘pop up’ events operate with their stated aim to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” Although death has traditionally been processed and understood in relation to religious communities or identities, Death Cafés represent a nonreligious and non-institutional alternative community to which people turn to understand and cope with death. This project seeks to explore how, through these events, both religious and nonreligious participants discuss attitudes, practices, and concerns around death and dying. The project hopes to gain a deeper understanding of not just how nonreligion is reshaping conceptualizations of death, but further knowledge of concerns, needs, and forms of care that matter to nonreligious people.

The Death Cafés team is preparing to launch focus groups and interviews with Death Café participants in Canada, and are currently awaiting ethics approval.

Led by: Lori Beaman

Working Group: Chris Miller

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: LAW

Legal Constructions of Religion and Nonreligion

This projects explores how religion and nonreligion appear in the context of law and legal debates, including how they are constructed (defined, represented, and applied) through the lens of public and legal controversies including same sex marriage, reproductive rights, medical assistance in dying, and Covid-19 restrictions.

The Law team has chosen the legalization of same sex marriage as their research focus, gathering documents and conducting a discourse analysis on parliamentary debates and legal cases in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Law team is now analyzing their data and comparing their findings across countries.

Led by: Paula Montero, Juan Marco Vaggione, Lori Beaman

Working Group: Rebecca Banham, Maximiliano Campana, Cory Steele, Luma Góes, Giovanna Paccillo, Guilherme Borges, Stian Alexander Skandsen, Vanessa Warren, Camila Nicácio, Helge Årsheim, Hugo Rabbia, Karoline Marie Donskov Dige, Renata Nagamine, Lene Kühle

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

For more information on the projects, contact Emma Robinson (Project Manager) at erobins3@uottawa.ca.