I am currently involved in two big research projects.
One project documents Byzantine rite sacral heritage on the Canadian prairies. I've been working with 2 colleagues from history for the past 6 years. They are John-Paul Himka and Frances Swyripa. My role is to interview people about their religious practices. I ask about weddings, baptisms, and funerals. I document how they are celebrated now and how they were celebrated in the past. I also ask about calendar rituals such as Christmas, Easter, and the annual grave blessing. I've had the opportunity to do some artist biographies - information about people who embroider, write pysanky, and do wood carving. The Sanctuary Project received one of the first KIAS (Kule Institute for Advanced Study) Research Cluster grants. This project has also been supported by Killam, Alberta Heritage, many smaller organizations and by private donations.
The data from the Sanctuary Project is being migrated to the Peel Prairie Provinces Collection at the University of Alberta Libraries and will be made accessible for research and for public use.
This past summer (2017) I attended a conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. My experience there suggests that a good expansion of my Sanctuary Project work would be a joint (Canada, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and possibly also China) study of the role of religion in heritage maintenance. I plan to explore the possibility of SSHRC funding for this project.
The second project is broadly based on the use of technology in education. Students in my courses learn about folklore and then learn to apply this knowledge in their everyday lives and careers. A big component of my undergraduate courses is fieldwork. Many students choose to document their own cultures. Much of the material is then placed on publicly accessible websites: Ukraine Alive, India Alive, China Alive. These are for elementary students. Thus, undergraduates use their cultural knowledge and learn how to convey that knowledge digitally for use in the K-12 classroom. Many of these sites contain interactive components, games, videos, and 3D interactions. In addition to generating sites for elementary education I work with graduate students and programmers to generate informational materials for the general public. These sites provide a wealth of folklore information, including traditional designs, 3-D images of large objects such as houses and rotatable 3-D pysanky or Easter eggs. One site is a crowd-sourcing effort where people can contribute transcriptions and translations of Ukrainian folklore sound recordings.