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Pepperdine University Begins Collaborative Inquiries into the Intersection of Religion and Sociology at the Center for Faith and Common Good

Pepperdine University initiates several collaborative research projects through the University’s Center for Faith and Common Good, a collaborative research-based enterprise that encourages the scientific study of religious structures that influence positive social action and improve social and behavioral service outcomes. The center leverages Pepperdine’s unique position as one of the nation’s top 50 universities with an established faith-centered mission to conduct high caliber interdisciplinary research.

“Our vision for the Center for Faith and Common Good reflects the very heart and mission of Pepperdine: to see our Christian faith bring new life to a broken world through research, scholarship and personal commitment” said Pepperdine President Jim Gash.

The creation of the center was first announced during the President’s Lecture Series on March 10, 2022, which featured Byron Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Social Sciences and Director of the Institute for Studies in Religion at the University. Baylor University. As a leading authority in the scientific study of religion, the effectiveness of faith-based organizations, and criminal justice, Johnson has shared insights from his prolific research examining the positive impact of faith-based practices on human flourishing, including in jails. The center aims to incorporate key elements of Johnson’s work while contributing to further studies and broader societal impact. Johnson and Gash, united in their common interest and passion for improving prison conditions and recidivism, are the center’s executive directors.

“If ever there was a need for thoughtful, evidence-based research that draws on all the strengths of a leading national university whose mission and focus remains faith-centered, now is the time,” Johnson said. “Pepperdine is uniquely prepared to bring together strong leadership, top academics, and a desire to influence public policy at the local, state, and national levels. I am confident that Pepperdine is ready to play a leading role in addressing unprecedented societal challenges, and I look forward to being part of this effort.

In addition to Johnson’s leadership of the Center for Faith and the Common Good, he joined the Pepperdine School of Public Policy as Emeritus Visiting Professor of Religious Studies and the Common Good. Pepperdine Vice Provost Lee Kats leads the center as Academic Director and Cameron McCollum, Director of the Caruso School of Law Sudreau Global Justice Institute, offers his expertise as the Center’s Administrative Director.

While overseeing the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Kats identified faculty investigating faith-related issues and their intersection with the fields of psychology, social and behavioral services, and prison reform. He looks forward to the center building and strengthening these already established scholarly collaborations while connecting Pepperdine faculty with new collaborators from universities across the country. Early research partners include Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Michael Hallett of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of North Florida, and Andrew Johnson of the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul Minnesota.

“Over the past 10 years, research conducted by Pepperdine faculty and students has become increasingly visible and more direct in addressing key issues facing society today,” says Kats. “The new Center for Faith and Common Good will place greater emphasis on how faith and religion could contribute to our understanding of improving outcomes for the issues and challenges we face in our culture today. today.”

To learn more about the center and its inaugural projects, visit the Center for Faith and Common Good website.

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