IU consortium awards faculty grants for work on ‘Wonder and the Natural World’

The Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society has awarded $51,248 to 11 faculty members from three IU campuses to further their research on the topic of “Wonder and the Natural World.”

This grant funding is the first phase of a two-year thematic initiative sponsored by the consortium on the theme of “Wonder and the Natural World.” The first phase will culminate in a daylong public symposium in May, at which funding recipients, along with invited guests, will present their works in progress.

“We received a truly impressive array of proposals, linking wonder to many facets of human and nonhuman life,” said IU Bloomington religious studies professor and consortium director Lisa Sideris. “The successful proposals reflect on the light and dark dimensions of wonder, as well as wonder’s ethical, emotional, cognitive, pedagogical, aesthetic and religious forms. It will be exciting to see the conversations that emerge from these diverse studies of wonder.”

The goal of the funding is to encourage faculty to engage with the idea of “wonder” in all its forms and in a variety of disciplines. The awardees cut across academic fields, including faculty in religious studies, English, bioethics and anthropology.

Heather Blair, assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at IU Bloomington, was awarded funding for her project “Super-Natural: Configuring Childhood Virtue in Contemporary Japanese Picture Books.”

“This project examines representations of the natural world in post-war Japanese children’s literature,” she said, “with a particular emphasis on contemporary picture books designed for children ages 3 to 6. Broadly speaking, it aims to introduce the study of Japanese children’s literature into ongoing conversations about childhood, character education, religion and ethics.”

Richard Gunderman, professor and vice chairman of radiology at the IU School of Medicine, will conduct research titled “Medicine: Wonder-less or Wonderful?” He seeks to explore the disconnect between what is taught at medical school, the dispassionate science of treating injury and disease, and the power of wonder for both the patient and the physician.

“Every time a physician sees a patient,” he said, “there is something awesome in bringing hidden things to light and assisting natural healing processes. Birth, death, illness, regeneration — these are the physician’s daily stock and trade, and they are pregnant with mystery.”

Other awardees and their projects include:

  • James Capshew, IU Bloomington Department of History and Philosophy of Science, “Bristlecone Pine: The Construction and Fate of a Scientific Wonder “
  • Edward E. Curtis IV, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Department of Religious Studies, “Elijah Muhammad’s World of Wonders: Astrophysical Disaster, Genetic Engineering, UFOs, White Apocalypse and Black Resurrection in the Nation of Islam”
  • David Haberman, IU Bloomington Department of Religious Studies, “Anthropomorphism without Anthropocentrism: Ritualized Ways of Enhancing the Experience of Wonder With Natural Phenomena in Devotional Hinduism”
  • Kelly E. Hayes, IUPUI Department of Religious Studies, “Intergalactic Space-Time Travelers: The Enchanted World of Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn”
  • Kelcey Parker, IU South Bend Department of English, “Living Nature: Surrealist Landscapes and Dreamscapes”
  • Phaedra C. Pezzullo, IU Bloomington Department of Communication and Culture, “‘Unprecedented, Unthinkable and Horrific’: Filipino Climate Justice Advocacy and The Sea Around Us”
  • Peter Thuesen, IUPUI Department of Religious Studies, “Wonder in the Whirlwind: Tornadoes as an American Sublime”
  • Michael Muehlenbein, IU Bloomington Department of Anthropology, and Vicky Meretsky, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, “Conservation Values, Personality and Motivations for Conserving Primate Populations”

The symposium, May 22, 2015, will provide a space for grantees to present their in-progress work to colleagues and the public. It will be followed in 2016 by an international conference to explore more deeply discussions of wonder and nature begun at the symposium.

About the Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society

The Indiana University Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society is an interdisciplinary association of scholars, academic programs and research centers from the eight campuses of Indiana University. The consortium’s mandate is to aid in the development of research to better understand religion, ethics, values and spirituality in society. The consortium receives support from the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington, which is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity, developing new multidisciplinary initiatives and maximizing the potential of faculty to accomplish path-breaking work.

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New IU ethics consortium announces funding for research projects

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Indiana University Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society is offering funding for research proposals from IU faculty that explore the theme of wonder, especially as it intersects with nature and the environment.

The IU Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society is an interdisciplinary association of scholars, academic programs and research centers from the eight campuses of Indiana University. The consortium was launched in January 2014 to leverage IU’s strengths in the interdisciplinary study of religion and advance research in key thematic areas.

This is the first call for research proposals from the new consortium. The research proposals are part of the first phase of a two-year thematic initiative — “Wonder and the Natural World” — sponsored by the consortium.

rachel carsonThe approaching 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book “The Sense of Wonder” in 2015 makes the IU consortium’s theme especially timely, said Lisa Sideris, associate professor of religious studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, who is also the inaugural director of the consortium.

“Wonder has played a key role in the environmental movement since that movement’s inception,” Sideris said. “We’re seeking proposals that ‘push the envelope’ in exploring the intersecting themes of wonder and nature, such as war and nature (‘shock and awe’), children’s natural spirituality, cinematic or fictional representations of wonder, even areas such as genetic engineering and wonder in artificial environments, like theme parks.”

Funding of up to $5,000 for individuals and up to $10,000 for teams is available. Full-time, tenure-track IU faculty members from any IU campus are eligible to apply, with proposals that cut across disciplines, units or campuses especially welcome.

The deadline for proposals is Sept. 1, 2014. Funding awards will be announced at the end of October. Recipients will present their preliminary findings and works-in-progress at a daylong symposium at IU Bloomington in May 2015.

The full call for proposals may be found online on the Department of Religious Studies website. Proposals should be emailed to Abby Gitlitz at agitlitz@indiana.edu. For additional information on the consortium or the funding awards, contact Sideris at lsideris@indiana.edu.