The Civilizational Transformation Project considers immense societal upheavals, delineating and analyzing the conditions that prompt such radical change. The project is a subsidiary of MRP but with its own output, paying particular attention to the way minds and cultures undergo parallel and connected processes of change.
Researchers are looking at moments of revolution and evolution in the structure, values and routines of civilizations in order to learn why such shifts happen and when. They have been tracking the movement from hunter-gatherer societies to domestication to massive military nation-states, from the Axial Age into the Age of Modernity and so forth.
These efforts to understand key moments in the development of the human species will provide a better grasp on humanity’s changing motives for building communities and enable further examination on individuals’ relationship to their society.
The CMAC team is investigating how to expand empathy circles and promote cooperation so as to produce pro-sociality. Using psychological studies, computational models and historical studies, researchers are analyzing what people need to do to form well-functioning societies – ones that can adapt to challenging environments, diffuse ideological and religious conflict and foster inter-group community. Researchers will disseminate findings among policy analysts, conflict-resolution groups and educational ventures in an effort to better understand how to mitigate real conflicts.
CMAC’s research on immigration is an outgrowth of the insights gained in the MODRN project but with a more specialized focus. To generate greater understanding into the various phases of the immigration process, CMAC is employing massive datasets and computer simulation techniques as well as closely collaborating with immigration experts. Researchers are building computational models that can be calibrated to a specific nation’s and city’s demographics and policy conditions in order to study long-term integration. The result is a playground in which we can virtually experiment with policy, generating insights to help guide policymakers and analysts toward what is most effective for any number of communities.
CMAC researchers are investigating the brain-based conditions under which people are healthier. By analyzing conceptual models and evaluating relationships among the brain’s affective and cognitive dimensions, we are finding out more about the relationship between such things as spirituality and empathy. Our efforts in this project will help us discern how our minds affect our wellbeing and, therefore, how we might attain wellness from a psychological perspective.
CMAC has received funding from individual donors to digitize, transcribe, and organize the Lawson Interviews of Seventh-Day Adventists (LISDA). Dr. Ronald Lawson is a sociologist who has studied the Adventist population for several decades. Since 1984, he has conducted approximately 4,500 interviews with Adventist pastors, teachers, students, academics, hospital personnel, administrators, and laity in at least 60 countries. The interviews follow the process of rapid growth and globalization, of new communities gaining representation within the North American Church government, and of social issues placing new pressures on an increasingly diverse membership. The study contrasts the differences in belief and practice between the different demographic communities within a globalizing American religious denomination and explores what holds such diversity together. Dr. Lawson has since retired and CMAC researcher and demographer Dr. Rachel Bacon is leading the project with his support.
With the help of several research assistants, we are in the process of digitizing, reviewing, and cataloging the basic characteristics of the handwritten files into a single database. A transcriptionist has begun working with Dr. Lawson to learn his handwriting, abbreviations, and shorthand for all the interview notes. Because the LISDA dataset has been stored in a variety of formats, no publication has reported findings from it. Digitizing and cataloguing this invaluable dataset will make possible a wide variety of groundbreaking studies. This project will complete the LISDA database and disseminate findings to a broad audience. We will publish one or more books and make a public-use version of the LISDA dataset available for future research.