First of its kind - TWU creates new Religion in Canada Institute.

Michael Wilkinson is one of the many scholars at Trinity Western University who have created the first of its kind Religion in Canada Institute.

Religion. When one hears the three-syllable word it can either induce fiery conversation or shut down an audience completely. Bands sing about it, politicians leverage it, and wars are even waged because of it. Exploring its central role in Canadian history and in the everyday lives of many Canadians has prompted a group of scholars from Trinity Western University to create the appropriately named Religion in Canada Institute (RCI). This new institute will serve as a nucleus for religious research and scholarly networking in Canada.

Newly established in 2007, the RCI is positioned at TWU's faith-based campus as an interdisciplinary research centre and intellectual community of scholars committed to understanding the diverse role religion plays in Canadian lives, culture and social institutions and in all aspects of religion past and future. It will also engage in research projects that will assist religious organizations in Canada conduct their activities knowledgably and thoughtfully.

What makes the RCI unique is the broad base of scholars from different disciplines who are working together to understand the historical and socio-cultural significance of religion in Canada. Such topics of investigation include evangelicalism; faith-based social services; Pentecostalism; religion and ethnicity; religion, culture and conflict; religion and globalization; religion, law, and public life; spirituality and health; and women and religion.

Michael Wilkinson, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the RCI says, "The Religion in Canada Institute is a unique think tank all to its own. We are discovering and addressing important aspects of religion and the interplay it has across Canada's diverse cultural landscape - research that has never been done before in this type of collaboration. Each scholar brings their own expertise to the conversation, making the discussions timely and effective. It is hoped that the Institute will promote further study of religion among scholars and students across our country."

The RCI will be hosting its inaugural workshop February 9, 2008. The sold out all day workshop will highlight three prominent religion experts and Canada Research Chairs; Jens Zimmermann (Trinity Western University), Mark Vessey (University of British Columbia) and Lori Beaman (University of Ottawa) and will also celebrate the official opening of the Institute in the public sphere.

Funding for the workshop has come from the Aid to Small Universities program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Workshop panelists will feature the who's who of religious researchers in Canada and will include scholars such as Pamela Klassen (University of Toronto), Solange Lefebvre (University of Montreal), Mark McGowan (St. Michael's College, Toronto), Sam Reimer (Atlantic Baptist University), Peter Beyer (University of Ottawa), and Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham and Paul Rowe of Trinity Western University.

Says Wilkinson, "The future of religion in Canada is going to look very different. This is an opportunity for the members of RCI and key scholars in Canada to examine first hand some very important shifts in the religious life of Canadians including personal practices, public institutions, organizations, and new global networks."

More information on the Religion in Canada Institute can be found by visiting

At A Glance

What: Religion in Canada Workshop Sponsored by Trinity Western University's Religion in Canada Institute

When: Saturday, February 9, 2009

Time: 8:30am-4:30pm

Where: Trinity Western University, 7600 Glover Road, Langley, British Columbia

Contact: Michael Wilkinson Tel: 604-888-7511 ext 3832, Email:

Workshop Itinerary

Session 1: An Overview of Religion Scholarship in Canada
a) Anthropology of Religion - Pamela Klassen (University of Toronto)
b) Religion in Quebec - Solange Lefebvre (Universite de Montreal)
c) History of Religion - Mark McGowan (St. Michael's College, U. of Toronto)
d) Sociology of Religion - Sam Reimer (Atlantic Baptist University)

Session 2: Current Research Projects: Some Theoretical and Methodological Challenges
a) New Immigrants - Peter Beyer (University of Ottawa)
b) Protestant Decline - Brian Clarke (University of Toronto)
c) Spirituality and the Health Care System - Sheryl Reimer Kirkham (Trinity Western University)
d) Religion and Conflict - Paul Rowe (Trinity Western University)

Session 3: Future of Religion in Canada - Presentation by Canada Research Chairs on Religion
a) Lori Beaman (University of Ottawa)
b) Mark Vessey (University of British Columbia)
c) Jens Zimmermann (Trinity Western University)

Session 4: Roundtable Discussion
a) Gaps in Scholarship
b) Networking and Collaborating
c) Public Implications of Religion Scholarship

Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C. is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 40 major areas of study ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology and leadership, and offers interdisciplinary studies in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Biblical Studies, Biology and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.


Last Updated: 2008-05-05
Author: Erin Mussolum