About REM

The Lab Group is composed of faculty, graduate students, visiting researchers, and associated researchers including graduates and former post-docs. The general aim of the REM Lab is to assist in the development of individual and collaborative research projects, including papers, dissertations, and grant proposals, that seek to understand the interaction of religion, experience, and mind across traditions and cultures.

The Inventory Project 

We know that people all over the world have experiences that stand out for them, but do the same experiences stand out in all cultures? Or are people in other cultures watching out for experiences you would never think to notice?  And of the experiences that stand out for people, what do they make of them? We have designed the Inventory of Non-Ordinary Experiences (INOE) to help us answer these questions by asking people in the US and India, first, what they have experienced, and, then, what they think caused it, whether they thought it was religious or spiritual, and how did it affected their life.  The project is currently funded by a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Building Blocks of Human Experience

This website introduces the Building Block Approach, a methodological framework drawn from the new mechanistic approach to explanation that we have tailored for researchers in the humanities.  As a foray into the “Explanatory Humanities,” it offers concepts and tools for those interested in developing socio-cognitive explanations of human experience as it is mediated by complex cultural concepts and social formations.

Related Publications:

Building Blocks of Religion: Critical Applications and Future Prospects, edited by Göran Larsson [University of Gothenburg], Jonas Svensson [Linnaeus University] and Andreas Nordin [University of Gothenburg], which includes a lengthy overview of the approach by Ann Taves and Egil Asprem.

Worldview Projects

Scientific Worldview Studies: Taves and Asprem are advocating locating Religious Studies under the broader rubric of Scientific Worldview Studies. Conceptualizing religions as worldviews and ways of life offers a framework for rethinking various problems in the comparative study of religion.  A focus on the questions that religions and other worldviews seek to answer enables us to situate worldviews in a comparative evolutionary perspective and identify a core set of world-and-self-making capacities that humans share with other animals and upon which the human ability to elaborate worldviews rests.

Applied Worldview Studies: Ann Taves and Stuart Nelson, Vice-President of the Institute for Spirituality and Health in Houston, are working to further develop and test Nelson’s Courage to Search workshops in community settings here in Santa Barbara.  The workshops, which are designed to help people explore their answers to basic worldview questions, is based on the Meaning Systems Inventory they developed when Nelson was a student at UCSB.