What About Research?

In many of the discussions of the relevance of higher education, assertions about the benefits of research usually focus on life-saving developments in the natural sciences. These research outcomes, and all of the failed projects that it takes to produce a major discovery, are extremely important, and such projects receive the bulk of private and public funding. In the midst of the various defenses of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the lack of discussion of the research that scholars in these fields conduct is disappointing, as many of us spend a significant portion of our work conducting research that has positive benefits that we need to articulate more clearly.

As most scholars are certainly cognizant, contemporary research in any field is developed from the results from prior generations of scholars. So, the relevance of a somewhat obscure study of nineteenth century religious conflicts in India should not be isolated from the range of studies on religious conflicts that have led, in my own understanding and current project, to a more critical understanding of the politics of religious labels and the influence that rhetoric about religious communities has on social, political, and even military decisions. Judging the relevance of an individual study, therefore, can be difficult, as it is difficult sometimes, especially when starting a project, to see its outcome, as well as its intersection with other studies that may come afterwards. Despite these difficulties, articulating the relevance of an individual study or an intersecting group of studies is possible, as in my example above.

This entry was posted in Faculty Blog, Relevance of Humanities and tagged by Steven Ramey. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steven Ramey

Steven Ramey is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Director of Asian Studies at the University of Alabama. His research focuses on groups who contest dominant understandings of the religions of India, both in India and beyond. His newest project addresses the assumptions in the language of religious labels and the ways those assumptions determine research and valorize particular constructions of religions. Through this project, he wants to consider alternative paradigms for describing these collections of practices and ways those alternative paradigms can influence research and pedagogy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *