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The Hidden Economy: How Faith Helps Fuel Canada’s GDP
The Hidden Economy: How Faith Helps Fuel Canada’s GDP
2020-09-21T04:00:57

This report summarizes the first documented quantitative national estimates of the economic value of religion to Canadian society. 

The study's mid-range estimate puts the value of religion to Canadian society at more than $67 billion annually.

A Call to Action to Support Canadian Civil Society in Response to COVID-19
A Call to Action to Support Canadian Civil Society in Response to COVID-19
2020-03-20T14:09:21

Cardus is offering a clear plan of action to equip Canada’s governments to supply immediate financial support to charities in order to protect their capacity to provide crucial front-line services during and after the immediate crisis.

The Long, Quiet Work of Faith and Public Good
The Long, Quiet Work of Faith and Public Good
2020-01-28T06:00:21

Religion and religious groups have been integral to villages, towns, and cities for millennia. This remains true for communities today where the presence of congregations is evident. In the case of Guelph, iconic stone churches reflect the long-standing work of the faith community. The work of these communities isn’t always as visible. In this brief case study, we examine a particular set of dynamics that involve a range of congregational actors as they have developed strategies to make Guelph a better place to live for everyone.

Negotiating the Complexity of Local Economic Development
Negotiating the Complexity of Local Economic Development
2019-12-19T06:00:30

How can a local congregation directly support its neighbourhood economic growth for the common good? This Social Cities profile examines the lessons learned when the congregation of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, New York undertook to establish the Westminster Economic Development Initiative to improve the quality of life for their neighbours and extended communities.

Religion and the Good of the City: Report 3
Religion and the Good of the City: Report 3
2017-10-01T00:00:00

Much academic research and popular media coverage neglects the vital role of religion and religious communities in North American cities. This roundtable report can help stimulate a conversation on how to begin to bridge that gap in your community or sphere of influence. Focusing on the future of both cities and religion, it is the third report in a three-report series on the social and cultural good of religion in the city. Future collaboration in cities requires intentional focus and investment. How will this investment become more difficult in the coming years? How will it get easier? What is necessary for religious faith and spirituality to be seen as vital contributors to the common good that we depend on?


Read the other reports:

Religion and the Good of the City: Report 2
Religion and the Good of the City: Report 2
2017-08-17T00:00:00

Much academic research and popular media coverage neglects the vital role of religion and religious communities in North American cities. This roundtable report can help stimulate a conversation on how to begin to bridge that gap in your community or sphere of influence. Focusing on the state of research into religion, it is the second report in a three-report series on the social and cultural good of religion in the city. What insights does research provide that could inform people and help shape public relations and policy efforts on behalf of the socio-cultural good of religion? What are the stories that need to be told? What do educators, journalists, and cultural influencers need to know? How could this work be undertaken today?


Read the other reports:

Cardus What Makes A Good City Forum
Cardus What Makes A Good City Forum
2017-06-09T00:00:00
As Canadians get set to revel in urban summer life, Cardus considers the question "What makes a good city?" Join us as we examine the complexities that give the city the aura of a living organism.
City Soul Explorer Toolkit
City Soul Explorer Toolkit
2017-05-31T00:00:00

The City Soul Explorer Toolkit offers four modules and practical tools to facilitate communication and closer collaboration between city planning and faith-based organizations. The Toolkit outlines a way in which the often distinct worlds of city planners and administrators and community-serving religious organizations can be bridged and brought closer together to build the social capacity of cities, towns, and neighbourhoods.

Religion and the Good of the City: Report 1
Religion and the Good of the City: Report 1
2017-05-01T00:00:00

Popular communication and even academic research have tended to think it proper to overlook the contribution of religion to the social and cultural goods of the city even where evidence has suggested that it exists in substance and extent, both historically and at present.

In this, the first of a three-part series, we ask: How are we advancing the understanding of the socio-cultural good of religion—especially Christianity as a dominant faith in North America? How does religion contribute to the well-being of cities? What form do these religious public goods take? What are their shortcomings that would be valuable to address?


Read the other reports:

Planning for Social Environments
Planning for Social Environments
2017-05-01T00:00:00

This report is the first chapter of a dissertation project that examines how one might better understand the social infrastructure of our communities. The difficulties of measuring intangible social structures require ongoing experimental projects. Some of these experiments will lead to insight, others will identify dead ends. This current effort builds on existing work and proposes how that work could be applied in new ways.

Measuring phenomena as intricate and difficult as those arising from human interactions at neighbourhood scales requires careful methodological and conceptual framing. A strategy that balances directive progress with permissive exploration is needed. Around and through this open approach to exploration, novel methodologies such as the relationship between social capital and spatial use in urban areas can be considered for their potential to assist urban planners in understanding and evaluating the social impact of past, present, and future plans as a means of increasing the sophistication and effectiveness of urban planning strategies and evaluations.

Charity and Social Capacity
Charity and Social Capacity
2016-11-28T00:00:00

Though seldom sensational, Canada's charitable activities are essential to our civil society. Our charities provide meaning, purpose, and belonging amid the dark labyrinths of alienation that characterize our time. 


Additional Resources for Social Capital
Additional Resources for Social Capital
2016-09-01T00:00:00

Trust, cooperation, and belonging are vital contributors to resilience. How well do understand these dynamics at neighbourhood levels?

Additional Resources for Subsidiarity
Additional Resources for Subsidiarity
2016-09-01T00:00:00

Vibrant civic life requires effective balancing of freedom and responsibility at all scales of society. How do we discover and foster this balance?

Valuing Toronto's Faith Congregations
Valuing Toronto's Faith Congregations
2016-06-16T00:00:00

Churches and faith communities of various traditions have a great deal to offer to society and to the common good. Typically, these contributions have focused on qualitative contributions that congregations make to the cultural, spiritual, and social well-being of the communities that surround them. Few studies, however, have assessed these contributions in quantitative monetary terms. Even fewer, qualitative or quantitative, have begun to explore how these realities might create a space for faith communities at the social policy table. Welcome to the Halo Project.

Additional Resources for Charity
Additional Resources for Charity
2016-06-01T00:00:00

Though seldom sensational, Canada's charitable activities are essential to our civil society. Our charities provide meaning, purpose, and belonging amid the dark labyrinths of alienation that characterize our time.

Cambridge City Soul: Context Report April 2016
Cambridge City Soul: Context Report April 2016
2016-04-29T00:00:00

Following a series of meetings, consultations and document reviews over the past two years, Cardus is pleased to release this City Soul context report for the city of Cambridge, Ontario. The Cambridge City Soul project has four objectives: that the City learns more about faith communities; that faith community leaders learn more about city planning; that stronger relationships between both are developed; and that stronger collaboration is explored.

Can Data Standards Improve Our Common Lives?
Can Data Standards Improve Our Common Lives?
2016-03-04T00:00:00

Good decision making depends on good information. Municipal leaders need a reliable way to evaluate progress on goals and aspirations for their communities. The International Organization for Standardization is introducing a new data standard, ISO 37120:2014, to help municipalities measure standards ranging from firefighting capacity to public transit to water quality. But before decision-makers adopt this new data standard, they need know how well it frames sustainability and quality of life.

In an article published in Municipal World, Milton Friesen, Cardus' Director of Social Cities, identifies key questions that can help evaluate the merits and limits of ISO 37120. At the centre of these questions is an understanding that assumptions and values are built into all measures, and that safeguards are needed to account for the unique nature of Canada's cities.

Cardus Case Study: Innovations in Mental Health Housing
Cardus Case Study: Innovations in Mental Health Housing
2014-07-23T00:00:00

Indwell is an Ontario organization that has worked for many years to establish effective and sustainable approaches to housing support for people suffering from mental illness.

Cardus studied Indwell because they represent an organization that has found an innovative solution for a significant challenge: Indwell combines three primary elements to achieve significantly improved, efficient and stable housing support for people suffering with mental illness. None of the three elements is unusual, but Indwell has found an integration method that allows organizational growth; greatly decreases transience among the people they serve; and prevents Indwell from relying on government funding.

Download the first entry in the Cardus Case Studies series today, and discover an organization renewing North America's social architecture.

Renewing Canadian Public Policy: Can Subsidiarity Provide the Framework?
Renewing Canadian Public Policy: Can Subsidiarity Provide the Framework?
2014-04-17T00:00:00

Cardus is interested in exploring how subsidiarity could rejuvenate and bring cohesion to public and private thought and practice including both civil service and political processes and engagement. Through papers, research, and events with key leaders and thinkers, we hope to strengthen the discussion and practice of subsidiarity. This white paper from Cardus explores what it might mean to re-engage the ideas of subsidiarity as a non-partisan underpinning for wider and more effective civic and public policy engagement.

Edmonton City Soul
Edmonton City Soul
2014-03-01T00:00:00

The City of Edmonton is planning for continued rapid growth and therefore considerable effort has been put into long term strategic planning for current and new residents alike. However, a critical component of the municipal fabric appears absent in these documents: faith communities.

Strengthening Vital Signs Through Urban Religious Communities
Strengthening Vital Signs Through Urban Religious Communities
2014-02-11T00:00:00

The Social Cities research report "Strengthening Vital Signs Through Urban Religious Communities" is now available. The report was supported in part by the Calgary Foundation and is based on a series of community roundtable consultations, primary research, review of official documents, and statistical data from the Canada Revenue Agency. While earlier work focused on Calgary's downtown, this report considers the city as a whole.

Calgary has a history of strong engagement between faith-based organizations and the communities they serve and are part of. After making changes to the Centre City Plan in May 2013 to make formal provision for the role of faith-based organizations in long-term structural planning, it was natural to continue to explore how that dynamic might play out across the city of Calgary.

One of the central findings of the report is that there are untapped resources in faith-based organizational networks that could enhance long-term structural planning in the city. At the same time, faith-based organizations are challenged by a lack of common organizational structures that would allow them to interact with established planning and development processes.

"Strengthening Vital Signs Through Urban Religious Communities" provides a review of the planning landscape of the city of Calgary, the size and extent of faith-based organizations in the city, and strategies for enhancing meaningful collaboration between these two significant strengths.

"Big Society" and Social Responsibility
2011-11-14T00:00:00

"It is incumbent on those of us who make it our business to think through such things to imagine how the 'Big Society' agenda could provide opportunity and hope within a cultural arc where both seem to be in short supply." —Ray Pennings

A transcription of proceedings from the Manning Centre Special Briefing, held June 10, 2011 in Ottawa. The papers served as the basis for initial presentations, followed by responses from panelists and questions from the floor. A joint project of Cardus, the Manning Centre, and the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada.

Calgary City Soul Phase 2: Final Report
Calgary City Soul Phase 2: Final Report
2011-10-07T00:00:00

(See also the accompanying letter to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and the Calgary City Council.)

Cardus is pleased to present Phase Two of its Calgary City Soul project. Undertaken in cooperation with the Arlington Group, the Calgary City Soul project was conceived following a one-day Cardus seminar in September 2008. At that time, it was noticed that the City of Calgary's Centre City Plan—a comprehensive and visionary planning document designed to attract an additional 40,000 to 70,000 residents into the civic core—had overlooked the city-building role that institutions of faith play.

Beliefs may be private or personal matters, but the institutions that nurture them have long been and remain public and part of, not apart from, the secular society represented by governments. Faith institutions have long played a critical role in the social fabric of vital cities.

Phase Two, supported in part by a grant from the Calgary Foundation, was assigned to the Arlington Group, an established urban planning consultancy. This study's comprehensive conclusions are available at length in the report, but in summary, indicate:

  1. Institutions of faith play a vital role in the enhancement of the civic culture, the availability of public space, and the provision of social services in a fashion that greatly benefits the wider civic community.
  2. The effectiveness and efficiency of these institution's social services often surpasses what can be delivered by government agencies, owing in part to the very localized and socially embedded nature of the service delivery represented by faith institutions.
  3. The nature of Calgary's faith community is changing dramatically and the current inability of the Centre City Plan to adapt to and reflect those changes is likely to lead to social exclusion, which will in turn increase pressure on both the delivery systems of government and the public money that fuels those systems.
  4. The physical infrastructure of faith institutions has been a vital part of the aesthetic landscape in the City of Calgary, and this valuable presence should not only be preserved but must also be extended in a way that is commensurate with other aspects of city growth.


Accompanying the report is a direct letter to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and the Calgary City Council, with specific amendments proposed for Calgary's Centre City Plan. Read the Centre City Plan amendments proposal here.

Calgary City Soul Phase 1: Inventory of Physical Worship Space in Calgary's Centre City
Calgary City Soul Phase 1: Inventory of Physical Worship Space in Calgary's Centre City
2010-10-20T00:00:00

The City of Calgary's Centre City Plan may create an unintended disincentive to diversity, to the distribution of vital social services, and to continuing widely accepted social virtues, according to a preliminary study released October 20, 2010 by Cardus.

This is Calgary City Soul Phase 1: Inventory of Physical Worship Space in Calgary's City Centre, an audit report conducted over the summer of 2010. Cardus analyzed the physical infrastructure that supports the work of faith communities in the area defined by the Centre City plan—25 spaces devoted to worship, mostly Christian churches and one Buddhist Temple. There are no synagogues, mosques, Latter Day Saints, Sikh or Hindu temples currently within the civic core.

Calgary's Centre City Plan is designed to provide room and services for 40,000 additional residents in the civic core in the years ahead. If the plan makes no reference to the need for continued growth of the faith institutions in the Centre City, what will flourishing in the future be like?

This report is the first phase of a multi-phase undertaking titled Calgary City Soul. Watch www.cardus.ca for more.

The Shifting Demand for Social Services
The Shifting Demand for Social Services
2010-02-16T00:00:00

Every day Canadians rely on an extensive infrastructure provided by the charitable and not-for-profit sector to deliver the sorts of everyday social services often taken for granted.

In October 2009, a study by Cardus entitled A Canadian Culture of Generosity pondered the implications of Canada's impending "social deficit": how our institutions are going to suffer from the steady decline in charitable giving, volunteering and civic engagement. The study showed how a relatively small proportion of the population—dubbed the "civic core"—provides the vast majority of the needed resources in the charitable sector. A major concern is that this civic core is declining by 1-2% per year, raising obvious concerns regarding what this social infrastructure will look like a decade from now.

This paper, The Shifting Demand for Social Services, has crunched the numbers from StatsCan to identify the segments of our population most at risk in the growing gap. While the data is complex and not given to simple summary, the conclusion is clear. Demographics, immigration, and urbanization will combine to put upward pressure on what is expected from charitable organizations.

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