The multidisciplinary field of the scientific study of religion (SSR) is generating empirical findings at a rapid clip. Careful theoretical review and integration are needed to assess data in light of established theory and to effectively survey and compare theoretical frameworks across areas of research. Such theory-rich synthesis of findings can enable truly incremental and cumulative research efforts, prevent redundancy, and illuminate the significance of recognized findings. However, because professional incentives often emphasize novel research results, the exacting work of comprehensive review and theory-building can be prohibitively time-consuming, particularly for junior scholars. Additionally, high-quality review and synthesis work in SSR crucially depends on careful integration of scientific and explanatory frameworks with interpretive paradigms from the humanities, where the study of religion is well-developed. The Synthesizing Empirical Findings and Theory in the Scientific Study of Religion (SEFT) Project therefore provides for an experienced researcher, Connor Wood, to devote his time over sixteen (16) months to systematic research reviews informed by established theory in religious and ritual studies, anthropology, cognitive science, and related disciplines. These efforts will produce two (2) major review publications in high-impact general science journals, regular blog posts at Patheos, and at least three (3) public outreach articles in venues such as Aeon. Additionally, eight (8) experts at a colloquium workshop at the Center for Mind and Culture in Boston will present and critique theory-building papers for publication. These initiatives will advance theoretical integration and conceptual synthesis in the scientific study of religion, raise the public profile of empirical research in religious studies, and facilitate the achievement of a progressive status for the field.
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