The Islamization of the Social Sciences in Iran

    Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, a range of activists, statemen, religious leaders, and intellectuals have questioned the relevance of Western social sciences institutionalized in the early 20th century and what might take their place. These questions have both guided curricular overhauls, faculty purges, and political trials as well as inspired serious philosophical inquiry and social scientific research. In this project, Alireza Doostdar, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion, asks, "What would an 'Islamic social science' look like?"

    Creativity and Knowledge Formation in Science and Literature

    It has been hypothesized that, while we must have some knowledge within a field to be able to be creative, too much knowledge can inhibit creative thinking. In this project led by Dario Maestripieri, Professor of Comparative Human Development, a pilot study will be conducted to investigate whether similar patterns of creativity exist for the formulation of influential scientific theories as it does for the writing of important novels.

    Expert Advice and Democratic Politics

    Democracies always face a dilemma when it comes to the issue of expert authority. On the one hand, it is necessary for democratic citizens to refer to expert knowledge to make good decisions about policy issues. On the other hand, doing so runs the risk of giving decision-making power to expert advisers. Matthew Landauer, Assistant Professor of Political Science, has done research on the historical dimensions of this problem, and in this project, he will look at two related paths out of it. 

    Religious Virtue and Self-Transformation in Ordinary Life

    A Comparative Ethical Analysis of Virtue in Augustine and Zhi Yi

    Eun Young Hwang, SIFK Dissertation Research Fellow, examines how two thinkers in historically unrelated religious-cultural traditions, Augustine, a Catholic Christian thinker in the 5th century Roman Empire and Zhi Yi, a Tiantai Buddhist thinker in the 6th century Sui China, can be set in comparison in terms of ordinary virtue.

    Ottoman Imperial Legacies in the Balkans: Who is watching the watchmen?

    Bogdan Popescu, SIFK Dissertation Research Fellow, investigates the Ottoman legacy on popular trust and perceptions about the incidence of corruption in Central and Eastern Europe. Drawing on extensive archival work at the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul, Turkey (Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü) he will examine the forms of knowledge that the Ottoman Empire needed to assume in order to function and argue that the Ottoman center interpreted religion to make strategic choices whereby new articulations of law, state and society were constructed to define an Ottoman project of power.

    Empire of Eloquence: Humanism and Iberian Global Expansion

    Stuart McManus, Postdoctoral Researcher, argues in his first book project, "Empire of Eloquence: Humanism and Iberian Global Expansion,” that the classical rhetorical tradition was a key technology of empire and evangelization in the early modern Americas and Asia that can be only understood fully by taking a global perspective.