What’s the function of faith in post-pandemic societies?

An international research project led by Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, will study and compare the changing role of majority and minority religions in the societies of four “Global North” countries, namely Canada, Germany, Ireland and Northern Ireland ( United Kingdom) and Poland as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Solange Lefebvre, from the Institute of Religious Studies at the University of Montreal, will participate in this study.

The research team will look at factors that influence how religious actors have framed health, disease and science issues in the context of the pandemic. Specifically, it will examine how relationships between religion and state have been transformed and whether and in what ways religious adaptations to the digital world have taken inclusion and other ethical issues into account.

Titled The Changing Role of Religion in Societies Emerging from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the three-year research will be led by Gladys Ganiel, who teaches sociology in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University Belfast.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for religious change in many societies, with the role of religion taking on renewed importance, including in secularizing ones,” said Ms.I Ganiel, who is a member of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. This new study will seek to discover how different religions are contributing to building the more resilient, inclusive and sustainable societies emerging from the pandemic.”

“This project was born after the publication of a special issue of the magazine religion which I co-directed, adds Solange Lefebvre, Chair of the Management of Cultural and Religious Diversity at UdeM and a member of the Royal Society of Canada. Gladys Ganiel also contributed to this special issue, which highlights the key research challenges we will face in the years ahead.”

To gather the necessary data that will be studied in this research, the team will use a variety of methods, including surveys, interviews and analysis of media materials and content produced by faith-based organizations.

Professors Kerstin Radde-Antweiler, from the University of Bremen, in Germany, and Slawomir Mandes, from the University of Warsaw, in Poland, complete the Mmy Ganiel and Lefebvre. The research is funded by the Transatlantic Platform for Social and Human Sciences under the Recovery, Renewal and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World program.

The Transatlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities is an unprecedented collaboration between social science and humanities research funding agencies in South America, North America and Europe to identify common challenges, foster a culture of collaboration and raise awareness of the role that the social and human sciences play in meeting the challenges of the 21and century.

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