To expand upon his research in contemplative media studies, Kevin Healey, associate professor of communication, was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Healey was one of a group of 16 scholars or journalists to receive grant support for research and publication projects addressing the impacts of technologies on human relationships, specifically on the ways in which people are (or are not) present for each other.
The grant is part of the institute’s Public Theologies of Technology and Presence research initiative, a three-year project supported by a $475,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, which harnesses the power of religion scholarship and theology to shed light on this matter of deep public concern.
In his research, Healey looks at the intersection between religion, ethics and digital culture. The grant program will support two of his projects: a book manuscript titled "Religion and Ethics in the Age of Social Media: Proverbs for Responsible Digital Citizens" (co-authored with Robert H. Woods, Jr., under contract with Routledge), and a second manuscript titled Contemplative Media Studies: An Introduction.
“The first is already underway, and will draw from previously published materials. The second will include some material I’m currently preparing in the form of a peer-reviewed journal article in contemplative and arts-based pedagogy,” Healey says. “My goal in these projects is to avoid the pitfalls of naiveté and cynicism in the digital landscape, instead steering development and use in more hopeful and sustainable directions: on a systemic level, toward economic justice; and on a local level, toward caring communities of mindful and vitally engaged individuals.”
As part of the project, he will attend four meetings at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley this fall and attend a conference with the American Academy of Religion in Denver. Healey says he is especially interested to serve on a panel and get the opportunity to listen to and receive feedback from other experts in the field.
Healey’s project and the others aim to provide deeper insights into the impact of technology on human relationships, including on friendships, introspective abilities, sexual relationships, moral attentions and capacities for relational authenticity. Journalists from leading media outlets — The Atlantic, Slate, and CBS — will actively participate in symposia and will publish stories about the intersections of religion, technology and human relationships, the institute reports.
Healey joined UNH in 2012 and most recently wrote an essay for the Huffington Post with professor Robert J. Woods of Spring Arbor University, Trump is Not Authentic, He’s a False Prophet. He and Woods also published a book in 2013, Prophetic Critique and Popular Media.