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Politics and International Relations (PIR): News


Dominic Johnson to Co-Lead Princeton Research Grant

Building on his research on the Evolution of Religion, Dominic Johnson will co-lead a new research project on "Evolution and Human Nature" at the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) in Princeton in 2012-2013.

CTI is launching a three year project on "New Approaches in Theological Inquiry", from 2012 - 2015, funded by a major grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The first year's project on Evolution and Human Nature will convene an interdisciplinary research team of theologians and scientists in residence in Princeton to address questions of nature and nurture raised by the biological evolution of human beings. It will be led by two Senior Research Fellows: Our own Dominic Johnson, and Celia Deane-Drummond of the University of Notre Dame. The research program will include international symposia and seminars with leading scholars, including Melvin Konner, Emory University, Sarah Coakley, University of Cambridge, Simon Conway Morris, University of Cambridge, Wentzel van Huyssteen, Princeton Theological Seminary, Niels Gregersen, University of Copenhagen, and Angela Creager, Princeton University.

The project team will explore how the explosion of new research in evolutionary biology, psychology, and anthropology is challenging and changing our understanding of human nature and development, not least in relation to religion and theological accounts of the human condition. The field of inquiry encompasses these evolutionary and human sciences, theological anthropology, practical theology, psychology of religion, religious studies, and the history and philosophy of science. The project will seek scholars in relevant disciplines offering fresh thinking on the topic, including the core questions of nature and nurture and the relationship between religion, culture, and human evolution. How have the human capacities for religion and culture evolved? What do theology and the sciences contribute to our understanding of the evolution of human beings over time? How might philosophy and theology engage the assumptions in the science of human evolution?

The Center of Theological Inquiry will award 8 Research Fellowships of up to $70,000 and 2 Postdoctoral Fellowships of $40,000. Applications will be considered for the full year or a semester, with fellowships awarded pro rata. The online application portal will be open on the CTI Website from September 1 - November 30, 2011.

CTI is also announcing the research topics for Years 2 & 3 of the project, under the leadership of Robin Lovin, Southern Methodist University, and Friederike Nüssel, Heidelberg University:

  • 2013-14 - Religious Experience & Moral Identity
  • 2014-15 - Law & Religious Freedom (in collaboration with the Law and Public Affairs Program at Princeton University)

Links to projects:

Evolution of Religion

Evolution & Human Nature