Did You Know: Center on Religion and Chinese Society
December 10, 2015
Fenggang Yang, director of Purdue's Center on Religion and Chinese Society and professor of sociology. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)
Ten years ago few social scientists were studying the emerging religions and faiths in China. But today, dozens of scholars are engaging in this topic, and many of them were trained through Purdue's Center on Religion and Chinese Society.
Since 2004, the center has organized various summits in the U.S. and China for scholars to learn the best social scientific research methods while participating in empirical research projects on religion and Chinese society.
"Only recently have social scientists focused on the study of religion in China, and a new generation of young scholars has emerged in the last 10 years," says Fenggang Yang, professor of sociology and director of the center, which is housed in Heavilon Hall.
Religions were banned in China during the 1960s and 1970s, and the government currently approves five religions - Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. A religious revival is taking place in China, and Yang's research in part looks at how faith affects the economy and ethics of business practices. He is especially interested in the roles Christians and Buddhists played in the growing civil society during its market and democratic transitions.
Yang has received more than $6 million from the John Templeton Foundation that has supported various training programs and research initiatives. This spring, he received $3.5 million from the foundation to map the religious and spiritual landscape in China and study how religions have emerged and flourished in this transitional era. The mapping will look at religious concentrations related to geography, urbanization, and economy, as well as pilgrimage trails and tourist destinations. This project is in partnership with The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The Center on Religion and Chinese Society also will be offering its second summer study abroad course for Purdue students, "Study Religion in China," on May 12-31.
Yang also is the recent past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and author of two books, "Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule" and "Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities." Yang, who studies immigrant religion in the United States, Chinese Christianity around the world, and religious change and church-state relations in China, is cited by national and international media outlets regularly regarding trends and issues related to religions in China.
Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, firstname.lastname@example.org