Templeton Foundation awards Notre Dame $1.58 million for interdisciplinary study

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Silhouette of a human head with gears where the brain would be

Two scholars from the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) recently were awarded a $1.58 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation for a three-year program to promote dialogue across academic disciplines.

Vittorio Hösle, Paul Kimball Chair of Arts and Letters and director of NDIAS, and Donald Stelluto, associate director of NDIAS, won the award for their proposal, “Pursuing the Unity of Knowledge: Integrating Religion, Science, and the Academic Disciplines.”

The program will foster inquiry into the “great questions” in an environment that considers secular and spiritual knowledge as mutually beneficial ways of learning, rather than rivals in a winner-take-all competition.

“This new initiative in our Institute for Advanced Study will examine in-depth, serious questions that deserve sustained study,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “We are immensely grateful to the Templeton Foundation for their generosity in supporting this important endeavor.”

The program is designed to lead experts in natural and social sciences into a conversation with their counterparts in philosophy and theology, addressing questions such as:

  • What is human creativity and how does it manifest itself?
  • What is the place of the human mind in nature?
  • How do the life sciences and the humanities contribute to an explanation of the unique features of humans?
  • How can the plurality of religious traditions be integrated with a philosophical monotheism?

“This integration of advanced interdisciplinary study with philosophy and theology is something no other institute for advanced research has been able to accomplish,” Hösle says. “The project echoes Sir John Templeton’s view that current knowledge is limited compared to what it could be if science, religion and other disciplines pursued the study of the ‘great questions’ in creative dialogue with each other.”

Donald Stelluto, left, and Vittorio Hösle Donald Stelluto, left, and Vittorio Hösle

The grant will support residential fellowships for the Templeton Fellows; a program of collaborative research including Templeton Colloquia, workshops and other events; and a $100,000 interdisciplinary research library collection at Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries called the Templeton Collection.

To attract top scholars in each field, the fellowships will offer a stipend of up to $100,000; fully furnished housing for visiting faculty; up to $3,000 in research expenditures; participation in the two weekly seminars held at the institute; and the opportunity to develop and to participate in Templeton Colloquia and NDIAS research workshops.

The program also will enlist student research assistants who will model their own training and education with this framework for engaging big ideas across disciplinary boundaries.

“With a program of active engagement with other distinguished scholars from a diversity of disciplines,” Stelluto says, “Templeton Fellows will be able to produce significant new works on ambitious ultimate questions that stretch current academic limitations and offer a new model of academic excellence that incorporates new concepts and ideas, new disciplinary perspectives and new or innovative methods.”

Contact: Vittorio Hösle, 574-631-1343, vhosle@nd.edu; Donald Stelluto, 574-631-7873, dstellut@nd.edu