Projects Underway

FOCAL AREA: LAW

Legal Constructions of Religion and Nonreligion

As nonreligion becomes increasingly present in public debates and legal regulations in contemporary democracies, understandings of nonreligion are being discussed and reshaped. This is especially visible in the context of public controversies such as topics connected to sexuality, the meaning of death and the contemporary redefinitions of religious freedom. This project examines the constructions of religion and nonreligion through the lens of (some) public and legal controversies, paying particular attention to processes of conflict and collaboration among the individuals, organizations, institutions and sectors involved.

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

Student Assistants: Cory Steele, Guadalupe Allione Riba, Guilherme Borges

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: ENVIRONMENT

Trekking Toward Awe

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.

Led by: Ryan Cragun, Douglas Ezzy, Lori Beaman

Student Assistants: Lauren Strumos, Christina Pasca, Charlotte Hobson, Sarah Nour Bouali, Alex McArthur

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.

Led by: Douglas Ezzy, Lori Beaman

Student Assistants: Lauren Strumos, Sarah Nour Bouali

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: MIGRATION

Framing of Migrants’ Nonreligious Identities

This project explores how nonreligion is constructed in the context of migrants’ settlement, including how the religious and nonreligious identity of migrants is framed in public policies and debates and how nonreligious migrants and their descendants understand and practice their nonreligion. 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.

Led by: Peter Beyer, Inger Furseth

Student Assistants: Sana Patel, Somunachi Okee-Aguguo

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: HEALTH

Death and Dying

Religion has been an important force in shaping understandings of the meaning of death, narratives and practices around dying, and legal approaches to issues such as assisted dying. The shift from religious affiliation to nonreligion (including atheism, agnosticism, humanism, the spiritual but not religious and indifference) has the potential to reshape these understandings and prompt nonreligious conceptualizations of life and death. This series of projects aims to examine the changing social practices related to five areas: palliative care, death cafés, medically assisted dying, obituaries/funerals and national narratives of dying.

Led by: Lori Beaman

Student Assistants: Ted Malcolmson, Somunachi Okee-Aguguo

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

FOCAL AREA: EDUCATION

How do we teach religion in post-Christian, diverse societies?

This project examines how religious education in schools is changing within highly diverse, post-Christian and nonreligion majority countries. The project explores how these changes are impacted by issues such as the difficulty of including all religions and beliefs in teaching, including nonreligious beliefs, and criticism regarding the reduction of these varied beliefs into basic doctrines that may have little to do with their own experiences. The initial research is comparing the situation in Quebec and the UK by way of interviews with educational professionals and other stakeholders.

Led by: Linda Woodhead, Solange Lefebvre

Student Assistants: Charlotte Hobson, Mathieu Colin

Project Proposal

Literature Review

Project Design

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Completed Project

For more information on the projects, contact Vanessa Turyatunga (Research and Information Coordinator) at vturyatu@uottawa.ca.