Focus Areas

The Center for Mind and Culture promotes research, training, and outreach in six thematic emphases. These Focus Areas all fall into the mind-culture nexus, in that they involve both culture-level circumstances (politics, economics, ecology) and mind-level realities (emotions, worldviews, cognitive biases).

Below you can find descriptions of the type of work that each Focus Area stimulates. As part of our interdisciplinary nature, projects invariably incorporate multiple foci.

Academy

CMAC creates scholarly resources to help the researchers and educators in key academic fields to understand their own operative values and practices, and thereby to be more deliberate in setting policies and reforming academic practices.
Current Academy Projects

ASPECT Hub uses sophisticated language-based devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home as a personalized educational tool to help children with varying proficiencies to work on verbal and echoic skills.

The Dimensions of Spirituality Inventory uses a new survey instrument to help researchers examine the wider landscape of spirituality and better understand the ways people find and construct meaning and spiritual outlooks on life.

The Epigenetics Project brings philosophers, ethicists, theologians, and others into a conversation to critically examines the potential of epigenetics to shed light on the human condition and our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Field Mapping uses advanced data analytics and social network approaches to reveal the underlying structure of research on religion that analyzes and investigates the variation in research trends across time and space, answering the questions about who, where, how, and why the scientific study of religion is being pursued across the globe.

The Hardy Religious and Spiritual Experience Project creates a sophisticated on existing religious and spiritual experiences narratives compiled in the Alister Hardy Database and builds a friendly interface for collecting new stories and data through devices such as smartphones and tablets.

PhilosophyofReligion.org is a public forum for leading scholars to answer central, field-defining questions in a space outside the strictures of more formal publications and presentations, creating data that can be systemically analyzed to discover what underlying factors are driving broad disagreements within the field and offer guidance for the future of philosophy of religion in the academy.

Synthesizing Empirical Findings and Theory in the Scientific Study of Religion (SEFT) helps scientists and researchers in the scientific study of religion collaborate to build on and expand research in a rapidly growing field. This effort will combat redundancy and lack of integration, allowing for more a more progressive, incremental, and productive science of religion.

Teaching Modeling and Simulation in the Humanities strives to make modeling and simulation more widely available to scholars in humanities disciplines by integrating computer simulations that express their theories.

viaSTEM aims to rectify the inequalities minority students face in receiving a meaningful STEM education by giving students the chance to experience STEM through simulation.

Visualizing the Deep Past brings together the digital humanities, philosophy, and computer engineering to build immerse and dynamic virtual-reality environments from the vast and intricate databases compiled by hard-working archaeologists.

Health

CMAC runs projects devoted to understanding the healing process as well as projects devoted to envisioning solutions to pressing human health problems.
Current Health Projects

ASPECT Hub uses sophisticated language-based devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home as a personalized educational tool to help children with varying proficiencies to work on verbal and echoic skills.

The Epigenetics Project brings philosophers, ethicists, theologians, and others into a conversation to critically examines the potential of epigenetics to shed light on the human condition and our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Spirit Tech looks at brain-based technologies, including the contemporary manifestations of the use of psychedelic substances for spiritual growth, neurofeedback-guided meditation practices, transcranial magnetic stimulation applied toward the development of paranormal skills, church services held in virtual reality, and even technology for brain-to-brain communication that may enable groups to drum up a high degree of collective fervor more efficiently. But these exciting developments are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of spirit tech.

Strategies Against Rural Suicide aims to build a computational model, incorporating psychological autopsy data along with the insights and expertise of local service providers and policy professionals to improve suicide prevention efforts, particularly in rural settings.

Tools Against Child Trafficking combines big data mining to measure, observe, and learn about trafficking in the real world, network analysis to identify intervention points, modeling and simulation to test the long-term consequences of different policies, and visualization of the child trafficking market system, which will help the public learn about this complex problem in an intuitive way.

Virtual Reality for Nightmare Disorder creatively uses VR to help those with Nightmare Disorder condition their brains, gaining greater control over visual imagery, they are then use those skills to dispel their nightmares.

History

In this Focus Area, CMAC implements projects dedicated to understanding historic moments of dynamic transformation.
Current History Projects

The Cognitive Styles an Religious Attitudes Project gathers research data through online surveys at ExploringMyReligion.org that include different cognitive tests for analytical and holistic reasoning, demographic information and religious affiliation, and questions about different layers of religious ideology and orthodoxy.

The Modeling Religion Project creates comparable versions of theories that can be rigorously tested against real-world data and the historical record by using agent-based and system-dynamics models to examine processes of group formation, religious leadership, extremism and violence, terror management, ritual patterns, and more to create comparable versions of theories that can be rigorously tested against real-world data and the historical record.

Modeling Religion in Norway engineers creative computer simulations of religious and social dynamics in Norway and other countries that will not only allow us to understand the factors that gradually lead to conflict, but also test out suggestions to circumvent it before it begins.

Religious Language inspects a number of secular and religious rituals, as well as sacred and non-sacred texts, to understand how people contemplate and showcase their religious behavior and how speech acts differ to pinpoint the unique differences that set religious communication apart.

Sex Differences develops new methods to update the conversation and explore new theories of sex differences and religion by drawing upon pre-existing research that indicates people of different genders differ in both their levels of religiosity and the types of religious experiences they have.

Spectrums approaches the questions of political and religious differences by combining a deep dive into social-psychology research literature with quantitative tools that provide a detailed image of personal ideology.

Visualizing the Deep Past brings together the digital humanities, philosophy, and computer engineering to build immerse and dynamic virtual-reality environments from the vast and intricate databases compiled by hard-working archaeologists.

Policy

CMAC supports policy analysts and policymakers with research focused on issues of widespread concern.
Current Policy Projects

The Extremist Violence Project is developing new methods for ascertaining and anticipating the sources and dynamics of extremist violence by employing psychological, anthropological, social, and economic analyses, big-data sources, statistical modeling, and computer simulation to study the complexities of radicalization, religious violence, and terrorism.

Modeling Religion in Norway engineers creative computer simulations of religious and social dynamics in Norway and other countries that will not only allow us to understand the factors that gradually lead to conflict, but also test out suggestions to circumvent it before it begins.

Strategies Against Rural Suicide aims to build a computational model, incorporating psychological autopsy data along with the insights and expertise of local service providers and policy professionals to improve suicide prevention efforts, particularly in rural settings.

Tools Against Child Trafficking combines big data mining to measure, observe, and learn about trafficking in the real world, network analysis to identify intervention points, modeling and simulation to test the long-term consequences of different policies, and visualization of the child trafficking market system, which will help the public learn about this complex problem in an intuitive way.

Religion

CMAC personnel are currently engaged in numerous research projects related to the scientific study of religion. All projects on religion are conducted through the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion (IBCSR), a pre-existing research organization that is now embedded in CMAC.
Current Religion Projects

The Cognitive Styles an Religious Attitudes Project gathers research data through online surveys at ExploringMyReligion.org that include different cognitive tests for analytical and holistic reasoning, demographic information and religious affiliation, and questions about different layers of religious ideology and orthodoxy.

The Dimensions of Spirituality Inventory uses a new survey instrument to help researchers examine the wider landscape of spirituality and better understand the ways people find and construct meaning and spiritual outlooks on life.

The Extremist Violence Project is developing new methods for ascertaining and anticipating the sources and dynamics of extremist violence by employing psychological, anthropological, social, and economic analyses, big-data sources, statistical modeling, and computer simulation to study the complexities of radicalization, religious violence, and terrorism.

Field Mapping uses advanced data analytics and social network approaches to reveal the underlying structure of research on religion that analyzes and investigates the variation in research trends across time and space, answering the questions about who, where, how, and why the scientific study of religion is being pursued across the globe.

The Hardy Religious and Spiritual Experience Project creates a sophisticated on existing religious and spiritual experiences narratives compiled in the Alister Hardy Database and builds a friendly interface for collecting new stories and data through devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The Modeling Religion Project creates comparable versions of theories that can be rigorously tested against real-world data and the historical record by using agent-based and system-dynamics models to examine processes of group formation, religious leadership, extremism and violence, terror management, ritual patterns, and more to create comparable versions of theories that can be rigorously tested against real-world data and the historical record.

Modeling Religion in Norway engineers creative computer simulations of religious and social dynamics in Norway and other countries that will not only allow us to understand the factors that gradually lead to conflict, but also test out suggestions to circumvent it before it begins.

PhilosophyofReligion.org is a public forum for leading scholars to answer central, field-defining questions in a space outside the strictures of more formal publications and presentations, creating data that can be systemically analyzed to discover what underlying factors are driving broad disagreements within the field and offer guidance for the future of philosophy of religion in the academy.

Religious Language inspects a number of secular and religious rituals, as well as sacred and non-sacred texts, to understand how people contemplate and showcase their religious behavior and how speech acts differ to pinpoint the unique differences that set religious communication apart.

Spirit Tech looks at brain-based technologies, including the contemporary manifestations of the use of psychedelic substances for spiritual growth, neurofeedback-guided meditation practices, transcranial magnetic stimulation applied toward the development of paranormal skills, church services held in virtual reality, and even technology for brain-to-brain communication that may enable groups to drum up a high degree of collective fervor more efficiently. But these exciting developments are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of spirit tech.

Sex Differences develops new methods to update the conversation and explore new theories of sex differences and religion by drawing upon pre-existing research that indicates people of different genders differ in both their levels of religiosity and the types of religious experiences they have.

Spectrums approaches the questions of political and religious differences by combining a deep dive into social-psychology research literature with quantitative tools that provide a detailed image of personal ideology.

Synthesizing Empirical Findings and Theory in the Scientific Study of Religion (SEFT) helps scientists and researchers in the scientific study of religion collaborate to build on and expand research in a rapidly growing field. This effort will combat redundancy and lack of integration, allowing for more a more progressive, incremental, and productive science of religion.

The Unbelief Project is working to produce a stable understanding of unbelief by building a framework for classification and by developing a multi-dimensional measuring instrument. By combining data at many levels of complexity, researchers at CMAC will use new datasets to render the understanding of unbelief sensitive to a number of diverse variables, thus expanding the foundation for studies on unbelief and opening up a new realm of research.

Security

CMAC aims to improve our ability to achieve stable solutions to international security challenges.
Current Security Projects

The Extremist Violence Project is developing new methods for ascertaining and anticipating the sources and dynamics of extremist violence by employing psychological, anthropological, social, and economic analyses, big-data sources, statistical modeling, and computer simulation to study the complexities of radicalization, religious violence, and terrorism.