Dr. Clive Baldwin Hopes to Generate Awareness of New Religious Movements through Latest Scholarly Work

Dr. Clive Baldwin is hoping to generate awareness and understanding of new religious movements and their practitioners.

His latest research project—funded by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council—will focus on the lived experiences of those who join or practice in new religious movements and alternative spiritualities.

“Although Canada is supposedly a tolerant society, the experience of participants in the study has not always been positive, with many preferring not to disclose their faith or spirituality for fear of being excluded, ridiculed, or marginalized,” he said.

“My intention is to make a step forward to the inclusion of members of new religious movements and practitioners of alternative spiritualities in the inter-faith dialogue.”

Baldwin will include work on narrative, spiritual identity, and new religious movements and alternative spiritualities to explore their commonalities and differences, narrative construction, and the barriers and opportunities for involving them in inter-faith dialogue.

“In exploring the spiritual identities of others from very different traditions and practices I hope to understand my own better,” Baldwin said. “I’m fascinated by the stories of others, especially stories that are often untold, and that are so different from my own experience that they challenge me both personally and academically.”

With the funding from SSHRC, Baldwin will be able to include more faith groups and geographical locations in the study. It will also give a student the opportunity to gain valuable research experience.

“I have been able to employ a research assistant to assist with recruitment, interviewing, transcribing, and analysis, and provide an opportunity for her to pursue an honours degree exploring other-than-human spiritual identity.”