Center for Social Research

Studying urban sprawl from space

Discover magazine led me to a great find, a new satellite imagery study of urban sprawl in the US by a University of Toronto team led by economist Matthew Turner. The study surprisingly finds less sprawl than expected overall, but major differences among metropolitan areas. Miami is compact, Pittsburgh sprawls. Inter-city differences are explained by differences in “ground water availability, temperate climate, rugged terrain, decentralized employment, early public transport infrastructure, uncertainty about metropolitan growth, and unincorporated land in the urban fringe.” See the working paper or get a copy of the published version from the Quarterly Journal of Economics on the IDEAS site (the download did not work for me, but the citation and abstract are complete).

Posted by Neil Carlson on Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 10:04 AM
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Calvin faculty study local congregational worship

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment to better understand the transformative nature of worship. A team of nine Calvin College faculty and Center for Social Research (CSR) staff are working with John Witvliet and the Worship Institute staff to study issues of “Worship, Worldview and Way of Life.”

Five of these faculty members are working together and partnering with ten local congregations in Grand Rapids to do a series of studies. The ten churches represent both urban and suburban locations as well as a variety of denominations. These studies cover worship’s relationship to everything from conceptions of community to issues of race. In keeping with the Worship Institute’s practical goals, the aim is to help congregations become more reflective about how worship can empower congregants to be transformative agents in society. CSR staff and student research assistants are providing research support, especially Gwen Einfeld, who is organizing tracking of recordings and transcripts. Read on for details of these studies and biographical sketches of the faculty conducting them.


Posted by Neil Carlson on Wednesday, September 06, 2006 at 09:07 AM
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CSR Project Fellows Mulder and Smith gearing up

Jamie Smith (Philosophy) and Mark Mulder (Sociology) are the CSR Project Fellows for the 2006-2008 academic years. They’re planning a pilot study of evangelical Christians’ attitudes and beliefs about cities and residential patterns. Read on for excerpts from their proposal…


Posted by Neil Carlson on Friday, September 01, 2006 at 03:31 PM
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Volunteer now: See colors and spot churches

Volunteers are needed to visit rural areas this fall to help finish a congregational census of Kent County.

Sign up for training, then cover a part of the county in late September and early October. About ten pairs of volunteers can finish the job in under a week.

Training:  Saturday, September 23, 9am - 12pm at Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus. Read more below to RSVP.

Photo of covered bridge at Fallasburg Park in fall

Drive all over a part of rural Kent County and document the churches you find.

Approaching the covered bridge at Fallasburg Park in northeast Kent County, October 2005.


Posted by Neil Carlson on Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 10:54 PM
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A new paradigm for a new year

Greetings, colleagues! For 2006-2007, the Center for Social Research is moving to a new project management footing, of which this brand new weblog is a part. We are working to place new emphasis on our primary mission:  helping Calvin faculty improve our academic research in the social sciences. CSR’s support for community service organizations, the Christian Reformed Church, and Calvin administrative departments will not end, but we are working hard to emphasize faculty research as the organizing principle for these other CSR functions, which are after all part of our entire institution’s mission, not CSR’s alone. This note is primarily about the ongoing expansion of our high-tech research-support infrastructure. Read on to see a few of the steps we are taking…


Posted by Neil Carlson on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 11:09 AM
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