The Henry Institute's Civitas Lab partners Calvin students and faculty to study the intersections of faith and public life. Every year, 6-10 students - the Civitas Scholars - enter the Lab as paid research assistants to work with Calvin professors across campus who are exploring the public role of faith. The students also build a research community by meeting together regularly to discuss their work, share project insights and challenges, and divide labor when necessary. During the year, Calvin's Center for Social Research introduces the Civitas Scholars to various methods and applications that will serve the students not only in their near-term projects, but also in their vocational pursuits after graduation.

The 2017-18 Civitas Lab

Public Spaces in the New Urbanism: Noah Schumerth is working with Calvin College professor Mark Bjelland examining a normative urban planning movement called New Urbanism, which features mixed use buildings, sidewalks, front porches, and public squares that promote social interaction and civic engagement. The project explores questions of access, ownership, and management of the "public" spaces in existing New Urbanist development projects.

2016-17 Noah Schumerth Mark_Bjelland
Noah Schumerth
Junior, majoring in Geography
minoring in Architecture
from Appleton, WI
Mark Bjelland
Calvin College Geography
and Environmental Studies

Measuring the Long-Term Effects of Service Learning on Calvin College Alumni: Joanna Jaimes is working with Professor Jeffrey Bouman on a mixed-methods research project, including a survey on current civic and political behavior administered to 1,650 Calvin College alumni who graduated between 2002 and 2012, as well as a follow-up interview protocol administered to seven participants in an original summer 2017 survey. The survey explores whether student participation in service-learning activities while in college influences post-college civic and political expression.

2017_joanna_jaimes jeffreybouman
Joanna Jaimes
Senior, majoring in 
Social Work and Political Science
from Vernon Hills, IL
Jeffrey Bouman
Calvin College
Service Learning Center

Religious and Political Polarization in America: Kelly Looman, Josh Parks and Kathryn Post are assisting Calvin History Professor Kristin DuMez with research on two separate but related projects. First is a religious history of Hillary Clinton set against the backdrop of the polarization of American Christianity from the 1960s to the present, and the second involves a study of evangelical constructions of militant masculinity from 1980 to the present.

2017-18_Kelly_Looman 2017-18_Joshua_Parks 2017-18_Kathryn_Post Kristin DuMez

Kelly Looman
Junior, majoring in
Relations, minor in
Geography and
History from
Newaygo, MI

Joshua Parks,
Senior, majoring in
English Literature
and Violin
Performance from
Holland, MI

Kathryn Post,
Senior, majoring
in Political Science
and Writing from
Midland Park, NJ

Kristin DuMez
Calvin College

Rural Consciousness and Religion in the Rustbelt: Calvin Seniors Erica Buursma and Elena Van Stee, along with Professor Mark Mulder are drawing on fieldwork and interviews in central Wisconsin, reviewing evidence on the voting behavior of rural whites and reconsidering the inter- and intra-personal practices of religiosity amidst continued changes in American religious institutions. Their research will offer scholars and public policy leaders a reconceptualization of how religion inherently structures the political orientation of rural white voters.

2017-18 Elena Van Stee 2016-17 Erica Buursma Mark Mulder

Elena Van Stee
Senior, majoring
in Religion and Sociology, minor
in French
from Western Springs, IL

Erica Buursma
Senior, majoring in Sociology,
minors in Gender Studies, 
Communication and Spanish
from Grand Rapids, MI

Mark Mulder
Calvin College
Sociology Department

Water and Justice: Jonathan Winkle is researching the appropriate role of government in addressing problems surrounding availability, stewardship and economic justice issues that surround distribution of water as a matter of public justice.

2016 jonathan winkle dendulk2014
Jonathan Winkle
Sophomore, majoring in Political Science
from Grand Rapids, MI
Kevin R. den Dulk
Calvin College
Political Science Department;
Henry Institute
Executive Director

Reduction of Recidivism: Mapping Applications for Returning Citizens: Taek Soo Nam is working with Jason VanHorn to refine the user-friendly intuitive map created earlier in this project which lays out Kent County (Michigan) facilities and organizations that would be indispensable to new parolees and those returning as citizens from incarceration. The project will also explore service coverage gaps and language evaluation for populations most affected. The project recently received recognition for the work it is doing to empower returning citizens (see the article).

2017-18_Taek_Soo_Nam Jason Van Horn

Taek Soo Nam
Senior, majoring in Data Science and Sociology from
Gimposi, South Korea

Jason Van Horn
Calvin College 
Geology Department

Visualizing Faith and Citizenship: Cassidy Dykstra and Claire Hinkel are assisting Calvin Sociology Professor Roman Williams in collecting photographic images from students studying off-campus which convey a momentary, unique perspective about faith and public life.

2017-18_Cassidy_Dykstra 2017-18_Claire_Hinkel R Williams-web

Cassidy Dykstra
Senior, majoring in
Social Work with minor
in Congregational and
Ministry Studies
from Hamilton, MI

Claire Hinkel
Junior, majoring in
Sociology with minor
in German
from Mattawan, MI

Roman Williams
Calvin College

What is Good Food? Kaitlyn Eekhoff is assisting with ongoing research on food and faith on an urban farm in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Three Years ago she served as Professor Roman Williams McGregor Fellow and conducted ethnographic research on the farm. During the spring of 2018, Kaitlyn is returning to the project, as the research work moves on to interviews, data analysis, and literature review.

2017-18 Kaitlyn Eekhof Roman Williams

Kaitlyn Eekhof
Senior, majoring in Mathematics, Sociology and Philosophy from
Dexter, MI

Roman Williams
Calvin College 
Sociology Department

Communicating Virtuously across Division in the Church: Karolyn DeKam and David van Dokkumburg are working with Professor Stacey Wieland on a qualitative project considering how Christians who disagree about significant social issues can engage in productive dialogue. This project considers how dialogue might be enacted in contexts where participants share a deep commitment to core Christian beliefs, yet diverge in their understanding of the implications of those beliefs for a modern social issue.

2017-18 karolyn dekam 2017 david vandokkumburg Stacey Wieland

Karolyn DeKam
Freshman, majoring in
Sociology with minor
in Women and Gender
Studies from
Muskegon, MI

David van Dokkumberg
Freshman, majoring in
Business and Human
Resources from
Mount Hope,

Stacey Wieland
Calvin College
Communication, Arts
and Sciences