University Academic Research: The First Interdisciplinary Projects Selected
Following a Call for Projects, launched in July 2022, to gather proposals related to the university’s academic development, the first research projects for the coming academic years have recently been selected.
Each proposal was analyzed and evaluated by a scientific committee, made up of our own professors and professors from other universities, according to qualitative and quantitative criteria. They were then approved by a steering committee and approved by the Rector’s Board.
A total of 13 projects were submitted, of which three projects were already selected for the 2023/2024 Academic Year. These projects, which involve about 30 professors and researchers and about 15 universities and academic institutions from various countries, are being developed and may be ongoing through 2030. Of six other projects, those who presented them were asked to elaborate on various aspects, making them more suitable to the evaluation criteria and guidelines; thus, allowing for an effective maturation of the proposals made. They could possibly be resubmitted in future Calls for Projects. Of the remaining four projects, the board suggested that the research be headed by schools and departments.
Of the 13 projects, six will receive financial support to cover both administrative management and communication expenses – especially those related to publications, congresses, meetings between experts, participation in conferences, and travel fair.
1. Toward a Theology of Evangelization
This project will study the biblical, patristic, and historical-theological foundations of a “theology of evangelization.” Communication sciences will be an aspect of the approach to this research, as well as the sociology of religion, with the goal of defining an organic body of reflection to foster a new institutional discipline. This discipline might be gradually included in the future of the theological curriculum of ecclesiastical faculties and Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences (“ISSR”). Among the study’s goals, in addition to providing a solid base for establishing new spaces for research and teaching, initial work is being done for a specialized volume on the subject. There will also be an international-like event at the close of the project, expert residential meetings will be held, and the study’s findings will be published in non-academic journals. The Academic board includes a dozen researchers, and the Department of Theology of Evangelization from the Theological Faculty of Emilia Romagna is an institutional partner.
2. University Christian Identity
The project consists of an international forum of experts that aims to explore the fundamental elements that make up the identity of Christian-belief-based universities and ways in which these characteristics are evidenced: from teaching to research to their social and cultural impact. Among the initiatives proposed were a biennial congress, seminars, doctoral dissertations, etc. As a first output, a special issue of the School of Communication's scholarly journal Church, Communications & Culture, as well as a book are tentatively to be published in 2024. The Academic board consists of a dozen researchers, and among the universities involved are Notre Dame University (USA), Strathmore University (Kenya), Universidad de Los Andes (Chile), University of Asia and the Pacific (Philippines), and Universidad Panamericana (Mexico), to name a few.
3. Footprints. Young People: Expectation, Ideals, Beliefs.
This is a multi-year (8-year) project that includes several phases based on “continuous listening” to young people in order to better understand their values, expectations, and hopes. This project’s initiatives include: an international survey done biannually, national focus groups to further investigate survey results, involvement of other academic institutions conducting similar research, and publication of the results in peer-reviewed academic journals, which will be widely disseminated amongst the general public. The nine partner institutions include the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham (UK), Universidad Panamericana (Mexico), Universidad Católica de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Universidad Campinas (Brazil), and Strathmore University (Kenya). The International Federation of Catholic Universities (Fiuc) has also shown interest in taking part in the study.
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An additional Call for Projects is expected to be convened before the summer break.