International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP)

Dear SISR Colleagues

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP). You can find more about the IPSP and its ways of working here: You will see that it exists to ‘harness the competence of hundreds of experts about social issues’ and to ‘deliver a report addressed to all social actors, movements, organizations, politicians and decision-makers, in order to provide them with the best expertise on questions that bear on social change’.

We Grace Davie (University of Exeter, UK) and Nancy Ammerman (Boston University, US), are the Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs) for the chapter on religion, entitled ‘Religions and social progress: Critical assessments and creative partnerships’. Altogether we are a team of twelve. Here is our Abstract:

This chapter starts from the premise that some 80 percent of the world’s population affirms some kind of religious identification, a proportion that is growing rather than declining. Emphasizing the significance of belief and practice in everyday lives and local contexts, we analyze the impact of religion and its relevance to social progress in a wide variety of fields. These include the family, gender and sexuality; differences and diversity; democratic governance; violence and peace-making; health and economic well-being; and care for the earth.

We argue that researchers and policy makers pursuing social progress will benefit from careful attention to the power of religious ideas to motivate, of religious practices to shape ways of life, of religious communities to mobilize and extend the reach of social change, and of religious leaders and symbols to legitimate calls to action. All of that, however, can be put to either good or ill, for which reason assessment of particular religions in specific contexts is essential.

Running through the chapter are five interconnected themes: the persistence of religion in the twenty-first century; the importance of context in discerning outcomes; the need for cultural competence relative to religion; the significance of religion in initiating change; and the benefits of well-judged partnerships. The continuing need for critical but appreciative assessment and the demonstrable benefits of creative partnerships are our standout findings.

The IPSP process – see – mirrors that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and includes a period of public comment in the autumn of 2016. The ‘Commenting Platform’ is now open – see It would be hugely helpful if members of SISR could take part in this. The IPSP website will indicate how you access our chapter and how you make your comments. Or if you prefer you can simply send us (; an e-mail.

Research Studentships at Open University

The Open University announces a competition for two research studentships on any topic within the subject range of the Faculty of Arts. The Religious Studies department is keen to receive proposals in the areas of staff expertise and interests:

For the funding scheme and application information , please see Initial enquires can be sent to Dr Graham Harvey ( These should set out a proposed topic/title, methods, sources (e.g. archives, groups, locations), an indicative bibliography of relevant academic literature, and identify a possible supervisor within the department.

Please note that we particularly encourage candidates with a completed Masters degrees in a relevant discipline to apply. The closing date for full applications for studentships is 31 March 2012. — The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).

IAHR African Trust Fund Research & Publication Grant Applications for 2012

The IAHR African Trust Fund herewith young scholars in particular of any ethnic/national origin, working and/or studying in any higher academic or research institution on the African continent (and nearby islands), whose research project needs financial support or whose publication in an African publishing house (scientific journal) requires a subsidy.

Grant Amount: The total grant allocation for 2012 is US$4000. There will be two awards at the level of US$1000 and four awards at the level of US$500.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants have to be scholars resident in Africa and associated with any higher academic or research institution within this context. We especially encourage applications from members to the IAHR member associations, namely the African Association for the Study of Religion (AASR), the Association for the Study of Religion in Southern Africa (ASRSA), the East African Association for the Study of Religion (EAASR) and the Nigerian Association for the Study of Religion (NASR).

Evaluation Mechanism & Criteria: Applications will be evaluated by the Board of Trustees of the IAHR African Trust Fund, and the board will consult specialists in the relevant fields when needed. Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. The originality, quality, importance and impact of the proposed study as it relates to the historical, social and comparative study of religion in the African continent (and nearby islands).
  2. Adherence to the best practices of research methodology and theory employed.
  3. The relevance of the study to the African continent (and nearby islands).

Submission Deadlines: Applications are open till 15th March 2012. Grant-winning applicants will be announced on 30th March 2012. Note that all grants will be awarded to the successful applicants in April 2012.

Conditions of Grants: Applicants who receive the grant should submit a copy of the publication or a research report (of no less than 5 pages) that summarises the project’s findings to the IAHR African Trust Fund. The publication or completed research project should acknowledge the support received in the form of an IAHR African Trust Fund Grant. The IAHR African Trust Fund will be allowed to reproduce or report the summary and parts of the report on the IAHR website, annual reports, and any other document or medium for the purpose of informing its stakeholders on the study findings. In all these publications, the authorship of the research will be clearly attributed to the applicant.

Application Form: Send a brief covering letter addressed to the IAHR African Trust Fund stating that your submission is for consideration for the IAHR African Trust Fund Grant and include the following required materials:

  1. Name of Applicant
  2. Email, Telephone Number and Mailing Address of the Applicant
  3. Name of University, Department, Research Centre or Institute
  4. Name(s) of IAHR African Member Association(s)
  5. Title of Research/Publication Proposal
  6. A research proposal of not more than four single-spaced pages detailing the aims/objectives, specific research questions, methodology and theoretical issues, the rationale and plan of research ( time frame), and a detailed, one-page budget should be attached, indicating the amount being applied for and the exact purposes for which it will be used. If application is for only publication purposes, also indicate to what specific journal or book and evidence of what sum is required for such publication.
  7. Brief curriculum vitae and a statement of qualifications that specifically addresses the research project.
  8. Include two letters of reference from senior scholars, one of whom MUST be a member, preferably an executive member of the IAHR member associations.

Completed applications forms are to be submitted as an electronic copy file in PDF or MS Word format in an attachment via email to the Secretary of the African Trust Fund Board of Trustees, Dr. Afe Adogame [].

Please include in the electronic copy file the applicant’s last name e.g. Elizabeth.pdf / Elizabeth.doc. The subject line in the email should read “IAHR African Trust Fund Application 2012” – Note, no hard copies will be accepted.

For more information on the IAHR African Trust Fund Applications, please contact the Secretary of the African Trust Fund Board of Trustees at