The Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity seeks to advance the study of social phenomena that influence humanity’s path to enduring peace and shared prosperity. Its purpose in doing so is to generate knowledge that can inform efforts to improve the condition of society. Research supported by the Institute focuses on the exploration of concepts, the evolution of thought and practice, and the dynamics of social change in particular contexts. It also includes field research into efforts being made by individuals, groups and institutions to improve some aspect of the material and spiritual conditions of a given population. Research along these lines of inquiry is intended to contribute to the endeavors of individuals and organizations that are working to promote the progress of their societies.
The Institute draws upon science and religion as systems of knowledge and practice in complementary ways to advance its research initiatives. This approach takes the theories and concepts developed by the social sciences as powerful sources of insight into the workings and structure of society, and the unfoldment of processes throughout history. It also looks to the methods of social sciences as tools that help to produce rigorous and disciplined inquiry into the causes of the phenomena under study. Religion helps to identify concepts, categories and principles that shape how research questions are developed and framed, the ways in which field research is carried out, and the ends for which knowledge is generated. Two principles that come to the fore in much of the research supported by the Institute are justice and the oneness of humanity.
The Institute’s areas of inquiry are collaborative research initiatives, carried out by groups of individuals from different academic and professional fields, into contemporary social phenomena that have significant bearing on the life of humanity. Efforts begin by analyzing the evolution of thought on a set of interrelated issues in light of knowledge drawn from the social sciences and from religion. Guided by a concern to generate knowledge that can help humanity address the social challenges it faces, this research seeks to take into account, as much as possible, the perspectives and experiences of those most adversely affected by the phenomena under study. As an area of inquiry advances, groups become better placed to raise questions that can help advance understanding and generate new possibilities for constructive action. The Institute is presently engaging in four areas of inquiry:
The Global Movement of Populations
This area of inquiry is concerned with the broad phenomenon of human movement and its implications for society and for our future. Research is organized according to two broad questions: Why do people move? and What happens when people move? These questions are being explored in relation to a number of topics including: the forces shaping population movement, the role of religion in responses to forced migration, the evolution of the concept of citizenship and the development of trust and cooperation in diverse societies.
Peace and Justice in Societies in Transition
This area of inquiry is focused on the transition of societies from various states of conflict towards peace and the questions and issues that arise as individuals, groups and entire societies try to build a more stable and just social order. Research into this phenomenon looks at the evolution of thought and practice, particularly in the field of transitional justice, and examines some of the fundamental conceptions underpinning humanity’s efforts to achieve more enduring peace after times of conflict or repression. One of the recurring themes this research seeks to address is the perceived tension between the pursuit of peace and the application of justice.
Collective Responses to Social Injustice
This area of inquiry is premised on the understanding that all contemporary societies are characterized by forms of injustice and oppression that limit the opportunities of entire populations to develop their latent potentialities. Some forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, and xenophobia, are experienced acutely by particular social groups, often in overlapping or intersecting ways. Other forms of oppression are more diffuse and universal. These include an aggressively cultivated materialism that obscures the true sources of human happiness; economic structures that concentrate wealth while depriving the masses of basic human needs; and the excessive burden of military expenditures that divert scarce resources from pressing social priorities. Research in this area examines efforts made by groups of people around the world to overcome injustice. This research looks at how groups and communities create new modes of interaction and alternative structures based on the principle of the oneness of humankind.
The Growth and Development of Cities
This area of inquiry is oriented towards understanding the growth and development of cities, in relation to three processes. The first is the movement of people to cities, and the structures and forces that animate this movement. The second relates to the participation of city residents in the management of urban growth and development. A third process concerns the formation of marginalized residential areas of cities, commonly known as slums or ghettos.
Throughout the world, a growing number of people – among them representatives of organizations of civil society, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and social movements – are expressing their frustration at the failure of the global endeavor known as development to extend its fruits equitably to all sectors of society. Increasingly, this failure is being attributed to materialistic assumptions underlying approaches to social and economic development.
The Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity seeks to foster individual and institutional capacity to introduce into development discourse a stream of thought that acknowledges the coherence between both the spiritual and material dimensions of life.
Building on insights gained from experiences with action oriented research that was carried out with development organizations in India in 2010, the Institute is undertaking similar projects in order to further explore the opportunities and fundamental challenges communities and development organizations face as they strive to apply spiritual principles and scientific methods to their plans and programs.