The Social Science Research Council has just announced the launch of a major new project and grants program entitled “New Directions in the Study of Prayer.” The project will seek to generate innovative research on practices of prayer and to foster the development of an interdisciplinary network of scholars engaged in the study of prayer. Supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation, and developed in conjunction with the SSRC’s program on Religion and the Public Sphere, the project will be led by a multi-disciplinary advisory committee, to be chaired by Columbia University’s Courtney Bender.
The project will invite proposals from scholars in all disciplines for studies that will enhance knowledge of the social, cultural, psychological, and cognitive dimensions of prayer, and of its origins, variations, and correlations in human life. Approximately twenty to twenty-five grants, ranging from $50,000 to $200,000, each with a duration of two years, will be awarded. Both individual and collaborative projects will be considered, and a small number of grants will also be awarded to journalists. All grantees will be asked to participate in a series of interdisciplinary workshops, conferences, and online initiatives organized in conjunction with the project. The SSRC will issue detailed requests for proposals from both researchers and journalists in the coming weeks. The deadline for Letters of Intent will be December 1, 2011.