In 1975, Reginald Bibby carried out a national mail survey of Canadian adults from York University in Toronto, where he was serving as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology, following his graduation from Washington State University. This one-shot survey, bearing the innocuous title of "Project Canada," evolved into a series of national surveys conducted every five years from 1975 through 2005. While no survey was conducted in 2010, the adult surveys may resume in 2015.
These pioneering surveys have had samples of approximately 1,500 people each. But what has been particularly novel is that each sample has been comprised of (1) people from previous surveys as well as (2) new participants. As a result, the surveys have simultaneously produced cross-sectional, trend, and panel data.
The subject material has been extremely varied, with central themes including social concerns, intergroup relations, and religion. The surveys make it possible to track trends relating to a wide range of issues over three decades.
In additional, complementary national, "Project Teen Canada" surveys of teenages, 15-to-19, have also been conducted - in 1984, 1992, 2000, and 2008. These surveys have included material that is found in the adult surveys, making unique intergenerational comparisons possible.
Together, the adult and youth surveys constitute the Project Canada Surveys (PCS). They have provided pioneering and historic data on Canadians.
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Over the years, the findings of the Project Canada Surveys have been covered in virtually all of Canada’s major dailies and magazines, including Maclean’s cover treatment on three occasions - in 2001, 2006, and 2009. The work has been featured on a wide number of television and radio programs including Canada AM, The National, Question Period, The CTV National News, TSN, As It Happens, Morningside, Cross Country Check Up, Sunday Edition, Off the Record, Midday, Pamela Wallin Live, Andy Barry, Dave Rutherford, Ron Collister, and Bill Good. In the United States, the findings have been given exposure by news outlets such as The New York Times, the USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and Christianity Today.
The Project Canada findings have been shared with academics and students through invited appearances and presentations at professional meetings and conferences across Canada and the United States, along with Europe, Australia, and Japan. The schools have included McMaster, Queen’s, Waterloo, Toronto, UBC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Acadia, Oxford, Notre Dame, and Harvard. The Project Canada material has been the basis for more than seventy journal articles.
Interest in the Project Canada findings has extended far beyond formal academic settings, resulting in Professor Bibby routinely being sought after for comment, data, and presentations. He has made an exceptional number of appearances in a wide range of public settings. He has brought his findings and reflections on implications to leaders and practictioners in fields including religion, education, social service, media, and medicine.
To date, the Project Canada material has also been disseminated through fourteen books and numerous monographs. All of the books through 2009 have been Canadian bestsellers, with some 150,000 copies sold. Seven of the books focus on religion, four on youth, and three on social trends.
Many of the his titles are well-known to Canadians – Fragmented Gods (1987), Unknown Gods (1993), Restless Gods (2002), There’s Got to Be More! (1995) and Restless Churches (2004); The Emerging Generation (1985), Teen Trends (1992), Canada’s Teen’s (2001), and The Emerging Millennials (2009); Mosaic Madness (1990), The Bibby Report (1995), and The Boomer Factor (2006).
Beyond the Gods & Back: Religion's Demise and Rise and Why It Matters(2011) provides an update on the religious situation in Canada, and examines some of the possible consequences of the growing religious polarization in the country with respect to personal and social well-being, spirituality, and responses to death. The findings for Canada are put into global perspective, making use of unprecedented global survey findings that are now available.
A New Day: The Resilience and Restructuring of Religion in Canada (2012) represents an attempt to succinctly sum up the main thesis in Beyond the Gods & Back, along with reflections on implications and response, in a format that will contribute to extensive dissemination. The e-version is complimentary.
Project Canada Books was established in 2002 to provide a distribution and publishing wing for materials produced from the Project Canada Surveys. Up until that time, eight of the nine titles produced from the PCS had been published and distributed by Stoddart. The demise of Stoddart in early 2002 resulted in the birth of Project Canada Books. Initially, PCB took over sole responsibility for distributing the nine titles, and subsequently has had distribution agreements with Novalis and Wood Lake Books.
In 2006, in collaboration with Bastian Books of Toronto, Project Canada Books took responsibility for publishing The Boomer Factor, followed by The Emerging Millennials in 2009, Beyond the Gods & Back in 2011 and ANew Day (e-version 2012, hard copy 2013). In addition, Project Canada Books has produced three monographs to date based on the Project Teen Canada 2008 survey: 10 Things We All Need to Know About Teens (2009), Canada's Emerging Aboriginal Millennials (2010), and Alberta's Emerging Millennials (2010).