June 30, 2021

2021-22 KIAS-CIH Alberta Humanities Research Grant

Calgary Institute for the Humanities Newsletter Spring 2021

The Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) and the Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH) sponsor a joint research team from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. This opportunity is designed to encourage interdisciplinary humanities collaborations between researchers from both institutions.

Business Retreats at the Crossroads of Performance and Religion brings together scholars from business, theater, religious studies, organization theory, and entrepreneurship: Stefano Muneroni (PI, UAlberta, Associate Professor, Drama), Joy Palacios (UCalgary, Assistant Professor, Classics and Religion), Alice de Koning (UCalgary, RBC Teaching Fellow, Sr. Instructor, Haskayne School of Business), Emily Block (UAlberta, Associate Professor, George M. Cormie Professor of Business, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Management). This project considers the religious and theatrical features of “retreat” and “retreating” in business, with the goal of bridging management studies and the humanities and of assessing how ritual and the performing arts can benefit workers and organizations. In organizational contexts, performance metrics imply constant evaluation in accordance with norms and standards. Although ultimately aimed at renewed efficacy, business retreats offer a respite from the norms that govern business operations, and promise ritual goods like personal and organizational transformation (without always delivering). Borrowed from religious traditions and often designed with the help of experts trained in theater, business retreats provide an opportunity to examine how even the most outcome-driven organizations rely on softer skills, such as imagination and role-play, and draw on religious structures, such as the rite of passage, to motivate workers, create community, and foster innovation. 

A second award was granted to Sean Caulfield (UAlberta, Centennial Professor in the Department of Art and Design), Heather Leier (UCalgary, Assistant Professor, Art), Susan Colberg (UAlberta, Associate Professor, Visual Communication Design Studies), and Joan Greer (UAlberta, Professor, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture) for Transitional Impressions: Visualizing Environmental Change. This creative research project will explore the role visual art/printmaking can play in building understanding around the complex issues raised by environmental degradation and climate change, as well as in acting as a tool to engage broader communities outside of the academy about these pressing issues.