February 26, 2007. 3:30 p.m. Meeter Center Lecture Hall Scholar Nancy Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Boston University will be giving a lecture entitled “Doing Good in the World: How Congregations Make a Difference.” Dr. Ammerman’s studies over the last decade have been devoted to American religious congregations. She is the author of nearly a dozen books and is active in educating the public on matters of American religious life. Her books have focused on patterns in faith communities, conservative religious movements and the role of religion in American life. In 2005 she discussed the religion and American family in an interview with Kim Lawton. (read it here) In addition to her many scholarly endeavors, Dr. Ammerman was involved as an advisor in the U.S. government’s investigation of the confrontation with the Branch Davidians at Waco. She served on a panel of experts convened by the U.S Departments of Justice and Treasury and testified before the Judiciary Committee. She also spent time in Israel, lecturing under U.S. State Department sponsorship. To find out more about Dr. Ammerman and see a list of her publications, visit her website. Also, view a transcript of an interview she gave on American congregations.
For anyone who is interested in environmentalism, especially issues of sustainability and energy resources, then come hear Fred Smith, founder and president of a free market public policy group called the Competitive Enterprise Institute, on Thursday, February 15, 2007 in SB 010 at 3:30 PM. Fred Smith combines intellectual and strategic analysis of complex policy issues, and he does so with an informative and entertaining presentation style. For more information on Smith and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, visit Fred Smith’s Bio
Professor Ken Piers will respond to Smith’s presentation, which will be followed by a Q & A session. This dialogue is open to anyone with an interest in questions of sustainability.
The president of Free the Slaves and professor of sociology at Roehampton University will be giving a talk on his book, “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy,” and the disturbing reality of modern slavery. As an expert in the field of modern slavery, Bales has presented his scholarly work at many venues. In 2000, Bales worked to produce the documentary, “Slavery: A Global Investigation,” which has won several awards, including the Peabody Award in 2000 and two Emmy Awards in 2002. For more information on Bales’ work, please visit Free the Slaves and come to the Commons Lecture Hall on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM.
Some meaty methodological advice on experimentation in surveys is found in the Winter 2007 issue of Political Analysis (the journal of the Methodology Section of the American Political Science Association). In “The Logic of the Survey Experiment Reexamined,” authors Gaines, Kuklinski and Quirk (2006, pages 1-20) offer an overview of the power of survey experiments to identify causal relationships, along with a bundle of caveats scholars should keep in mind when designing, conducting and interpreting survey experiments. (The article is available to the Calvin community through the publisher’s web site).
What has distinguished growing American congregations from their stagnant and dwindling cousins? Some tentative answers are found in a new report from Faith Communities Today: a growing, youthful demographic setting, a multiethnic constituency, a “vital,” contemporary worship style, and a purposeful organizational disposition to grow and change. Drums and “joyful” worship often went with growth; worship described as “reverent,” unfortunately, did not often accompany numeric growth in weekly attendance (see pages 9 and 10 of the report).
Whether these recent trends are worthy of emulation is a theological and social matter the current report does not address directly. But scholars and laypeople of all stripes may find evidence to inform their perspectives. The report, covering many faiths and denominations, is based on nationwide data collected in 2005 by the Calvin College Center for Social Research.