Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Four Duke Divinity School faculty members received two of 13 Duke University Intellectual Community Planning Grants to develop new collaborations around a shared intellectual interest.

The awards, ranging from $3,500 to $5,000, will assist groups of faculty in building these collaborations in a variety of exciting intellectual areas, said Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth and Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen in announcing the grant recipients.

Divinity faculty members David Toole, associate professor of the practice of theology, ethics, and global health, and Norman Wirzba, professor of theology, ecology, and agrarian studies, received a grant for a project titled “Religious Faith, Environmental Concern, and Public Policy.” The project will use Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” as a catalyst for an interdisciplinary conversation concerning moral and religious arguments for environmental protection on one hand, and policy measures to achieve environmental goals on the other.

Faculty members Maria Doerfler, assistant professor of the history of Christianity, and Jennie Grillo, assistant professor of Old Testament, were given a grant for a project titled “The Lives of Religious Books.” The project is on approaches to religious texts through book history, exploring how the material life of books illuminates the work books do within communities of faith. The group of seven faculty from five departments is planning a conference co-sponsored by the Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, of which Grillo is a current fellow.

Although many scholars in Duke’s rich culture of collaboration are already working together on a broad range of projects, it is envisioned that these awards will spark new areas of inquiry and bring together new collaborative groups.

Kornbluth, who stressed that the outcome of the grants is important while recognizing that the availability of established lines of grant funding varies greatly by discipline, said that valued outcomes include “a course, a shared research project, an extra- or co-curricular offering or quite simply a plan for sustained interactions.” 

“Our intent was for the collective set of recipients to reflect the richness of intellectual approaches and modes of inquiry that make Duke such a vibrant university,” said Balleisen. “We were pleased to be able to support proposals that incorporate faculty from 15 departments and programs in Arts & Sciences, eight schools, and three university-wide institutes and initiatives.”

The second round of proposals for this funding opportunity will be due Feb. 1 and will also be for grants for use during the 2015-16 academic year. Details will be circulated to faculty in early January.

See a full list of recipients