Kent State University
Proposal to establish a

Center for the Study of Information and Religion (CSIR)

A, Name and Location:
Centre for the Study of Information and Religion (CSIR)
The School of Library and Information Science, Kent State University

B. Purpose/Mission Statement:
The mission of the CSIR is to facilitate research within the LIS field that is focused on the various institutions and agents of religion and their affect on social knowledge through the use, dissemination, and diffusion of information. The CSIR utilizes an interdisciplinary approach with other fields in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and collaborative partnerships with various representatives of religious faiths and denominations.

The concept of the Center grew out of the interests of two faculty members, Dr. Don Wicks and Dr. Dan Roland. Both individuals conducted their dissertation research in the sphere of information and religion. Wicks’ dissertation was on “The Information- Seeking Behaviour of Pastoral Clergy: A Study of the Interaction of Their Work Worlds and Work Roles” and Roland’s on “Interpreting Scripture in Contemporary Times : A Study of a Clergy Member’s Sense-Making Behavior in Preparing the Sunday Sermon”. Both have published and presented on such themes and have ongoing research projects in this area. No other School of Library & Information Science in North America, to our knowledge, has the advantage of two faculty members with such an interest. Also, within SLIS there are other research initiatives related to this area and faculty who might find the Center a helpful vehicle for their research interests. These include:
· Dr. Frank Lambert - research on community informatics and information seeking
· The School’s Usability Lab – study of web sites of religious institutions
· The Marantz Picture Book Collection – a resource for study of the depiction of religion in children’s literature

Though much work is done on religion in disciplines such as Sociology, Psychology, and Religious Studies, this area of investigation is largely untapped in Library & Information Science. A Center would facilitate such research, encourage interdisciplinary research, and draw national and international attention to Kent State University as the home for research in the area of information and religion.

C. Institutional, research, and professional activities of the Center:

Goals of the CSIR:
1. To investigate the importance of information in the religious world.
2. To understand the relationship between the information-seeking behavior of clergy and the body of knowledge which exists to serve their information needs.
3. To advance our understanding of the role of information in religious practice.

Objectives of the Center:
1. Conduct research in the area of Information and Religion focusing on a variety of topics including but not limited to the following:
a. The information-seeking behavior of clergy
b. The role of the sermon as an influential communication medium in society.
c. The utilization of multi-media in sermon delivery.
d. Information in its application to local congregations as communities of practice.
e. Faith and many types of intelligence (e.g., emotional intelligence).
f. Information, entropy (understood as the rate of transfer of a message), and Belief
g. Case studies of pastors, priests, rabbis, and other religious leaders to explore the role of information in the sermon preparation task.
h. Longitudinal study of religious leaders engaged in congregational ministries to study changes in the sermon preparation task over the course of their careers.
2. Present research findings at various conferences in the LIS and Sociology of Religion fields.
3. Publish research findings in various peer-reviewed journals of the LIS and Sociology of Religion fields.
4. Establish and publish a quarterly journal for the dissemination of peer-reviewed research in the area of Information and Religion.
5. Work with researchers, organizations, and associations across the disciplines to identify various data sets in the study of religion that includes components applicable to LIS.
6. Establish and maintain a web site dedicated to the publication of data, research findings and research opportunities in the area of Religion and Information. Depending on clearance from participants, the web site might make available to registered users, interview transcripts and other data obtained through the research activities of Center-affiliated researchers. Such data would be cited in such a way as to indicate that CSIR is the publisher.
7. Collaborate with researchers and organizations in the development of research instruments pertaining to the research interests of the CSIR.
8. Recruitment of Master of Library & Information Science and doctoral students interested in the area of Information and Religion.
9. Work with various faiths and denominations to provide educational opportunities for religious leaders in the application of information technology and information management skills for ministry and congregational administration.
10. Become a provider of commissioned research in the area of information and religion.