The Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal (RSDR) Fellowship of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) aims to bring knowledge of the place of religion and spirituality into scholarly and public conversations about renewing democracy and democratic movements in the United States and around the world. Through research on the intersection of religious and/or spiritual identities, behaviors, attitudes, and organizations with social and political structures, processes, and institutions, RSDR fellows will deepen understanding of the evolving relationships among religion, spirituality, and democracy at this moment in US history.
For this year’s RFP, the Council especially seeks projects that shed light on 1) the religious and spiritual dimensions of political polarization, 2) the ways religious ideas, actors, and institutions may (or may not) be contributing to more inclusive and civil democratic politics, and/or 3) the roles of religious and spiritual movements in democratic societies. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
Proposals are welcome from across all fields in the social sciences (including, but not limited to: anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, and sociology), as well as the humanities, theology, and other relevant fields. Research projects using any social science methodology, quantitative, qualitative, or mixed, are eligible. This year projects focusing on any global context may be considered for funding.
Projects may take a historical perspective but must demonstrate strong relevance to the current moment. Projects are encouraged to engage with existing datasets or create new ones relevant to answering key questions about the connections between religion, spirituality, and democracy’s malaise and renewal. Projects focused on social media data and other innovative ways of gaining insight into the intersection between religion and democracy are also welcome. Given the urgency and ongoing relevance of these themes, fellows will be expected to make their findings accessible to a broad range of audiences (e.g. through public scholarship, digital media components, etc.).
Fellowship funds may be used for activities directly related to research, such as travel expenses and accommodations, research equipment and supplies, support for research assistants, and costs for access to publications or proprietary databases. In exceptional cases, and in consultation with program staff, award funds may be used to cover other expenses. If travel or in-person research is proposed, applicants should address any likely considerations that could impact the feasibility of their plans.
Fellows may participate in an interdisciplinary workshop during or upon completion of RSDR-funded research, with costs covered by the SSRC. The workshop will focus on fostering interdisciplinary dialogue on key research topics, writing for multiple audiences, public communication strategies, and cohort building. Participants may also be invited to contribute an essay to the SSRC’s flagship web forum on religion and secularism, The Immanent Frame.