Research

Collaborating across academia, research by the Lincoln Center is featured in the tabs below followed by updates on the work of our affiliate faculty and Lincoln Professors.

Project overviews

Memorable Moral Messages

This project examines how emerging adults negotiate moral messaging, internalize health recommendations surrounding Covid-19, and modify their behavior in response.

Channel Zed

Channel Zed, is a fictitious online television station branded as “The World’s Leading Zombie Apocalypse Channel," which takes as its premise that it is producing television in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Channel Zed will accomplish two related goals: (1) provide engaging content for the public that communicates about the interdisciplinary scholarship happening as part of the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Alliance, and (2) create a compelling forum for a diverse audience to engage with the question of what it means to be human. Channel Zed allows us to embrace the digital potential of transformative knowledge creation, outreach, and engagement by offering a broad platform for all of us to share our brains.

Craftwork as Soulwork

Working with scientists in our participating labs and experts in spiritual formation, we collectively discover and adapt “practices” drawn from a range of western and non-western traditions that might prove effective in helping researchers bring the technical dimensions of their work into a deeper relation to their own sense of moral purpose.

Technologies of Domination

We seek to denaturalize and disrupt historic hierarchies of social power by interrogating whiteness and its intersections with other categories of dominance (e.g. masculinity, straightness, cis-genderness, class status, able-bodiedness). This project is animated by the scholarship of the critical humanities and human sciences, which infuses and informs the distributed network we propose to found consisting of humanities scholars, students, and front-line non-academic experts.

Craftwork as Soulwork

John Templeton
Photo of Sir John Templeton by the John Templeton Foundation.

Craftwork as Soulwork has been an established research focus in the Center since 2017, but received funding in the summer of 2021 from the Templeton Foundation to establish proof of concept for a model of spiritual formation for genetics researchers, whether they identify as secular or religious.

Working with scientists from three participating labs, alongside experts in spiritual formation, the project seeks to collectively identify and recast a set of established techniques from a range of spiritual traditions to help researchers bring the technical dimensions of their work into a deeper and more integral relation to their own quest for spiritual purpose and collective responsibility.

The project is led by Gaymon Bennett, associate director of the Lincoln Center and associate professor of religion, science, and technology. He is joined on the project by fellow ASU humanists J. Benjamin Hurlbut, Erica O’Neil, and Jason Robert; ASU neurobiologists B. Blair Braden, Stephen Helms-Tillery, and Sarah Stabenfeldt; as well as Gil Stafford, director of the Wisdom’s Way school of spiritual direction, and Carolyn Forbes, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict.

In view of the potential for radical transformation, scientists are being asked to take responsibility for our collective biological future, even while being expected to actualize and commodify those futures in the process. Navigating similarly turbulent crosscurrents has long been a mainstay of spiritual practice across traditions. We thus ask: how might traditions of craftwork as soulwork help scientists navigate the cultural call to be both responsible and entrepreneurial by refashioning their craftwork as a very means of spiritual growth? And how might productive answers to that question be regularized and scaled?

The primary output of our experimental efforts will be an open-access and revisable toolkit for other researchers to deploy in their own labs. The outcome of the project, if successful, will be the advance of more integral relation of craftwork and soulwork with the expectation that making explicit the tacit dynamics of spiritual formation will better prepare those in the advanced life sciences to navigate the power they wield, technically and socially, in a way that attunes scientific attention to the “big questions.

Executive summary

This pilot project proposes to establish proof of concept for a model of spiritual formation for genetics researchers, whether they identify as secular or religious. Working with scientists from three participating labs, alongside experts in spiritual formation, we seek to collectively identify and recast a set of established techniques from a range of spiritual traditions to help researchers bring the technical dimensions of their work into a deeper and more integral relation to their own quest for spiritual purpose and collective responsibility. Following tracks laid down by monastic traditions of “craftwork as soulwork,” these efforts are designed to address a double bind at the heart of genomics and genome editing, today, and their looming impact on the meaning and purpose of human life. In view of the potential for radical transformation, scientists are being asked to take responsibility for our collective biological future, even while being expected to actualize and commodify those futures in the process. Navigating similarly turbulent crosscurrents has long been a mainstay of spiritual practice across traditions. We thus ask: how might traditions of craftwork as soulwork help scientists navigate the cultural call to be both responsible and entrepreneurial by refashioning their craftwork as a very means of spiritual growth? And how might productive answers to that question be regularized and scaled? The primary output of our experimental efforts will be an open-access and revisable toolkit for other researchers to deploy in their own labs. The outcome of the project, if successful, will be the advance of more integral relation of craftwork and soulwork with the expectation that making explicit the tacit dynamics of spiritual formation will better prepare those in the advanced life sciences to navigate the power they wield, technically and socially, in a way that tunes scientific attention to the “big questions” at stake in genomics and genome editing.

Memorable Moral Messages

Students wearing face masks on campus
Students Neida Buendia (left) and Nayeli Pohjonen wear face coverings at an outdoor event on ASU's West campus on Oct. 21. Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU

The Memorable Moral Messages research focus arose in response to evolving health communication efforts regarding Covid-19 precautions among ASU undergraduate students.

The study examines how emerging adults form their moral outlook and builds on negotiated morality theory, advanced by Vince Waldron, professor of communication studies and Lincoln Professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. He is assisted by Lincoln Center Research Manager Erica O’Neil; communication doctoral students Julie Martin, Lucy Niess and Corey Reutlinger; and undergraduate researcher Adrianna Matthews.

According to preliminary focus group data gathered by the team in fall 2020, students struggled to balance the safety of vulnerable family members with the need for peer connection. Previously taken-for-granted activities of student life—organizing a club, going to the gym, living with roommates, studying in groups, accepting an internship—became morally fraught as students weighed the benefits to themselves against the risks these activities created for others.

That data informed a spring 2021 survey about how to better align health messaging with student decision-making, rooted in negotiated morality theory and how emerging adults form their moral outlook. Data from the study is currently under investigation, with potential implications for how to align health communication efforts and moral foundations.

Channel Zed

Coming soon.

Technologies of Domination

Coming soon.