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Sep 7, 2021

Innovations for Human Flourishing with Dr. Andrew Serazin (podcast)

Under what conditions does humanity flourish? And how do we promote that flourishing in societies, in individuals around the world?

By Templeton Staff

Stories of Impact Podcast Season 5 begins with scientist, entrepreneur, and philanthropy leader Dr. Andrew Serazin, President of Templeton World Charity Foundation. Dr. Serazin discusses TWCF’s Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing project, which enables researchers to discover new knowledge, develop new tools, and launch new practices or interventions that make a lasting impact on human flourishing.

"There's something special about our place and our purpose on this planet. Ever since the creation of art and writing on cave walls, or the first legal codes, the first descriptions of rituals, I think there is this sense of seeking something. Seeking to reach our potential, seeking out to be in touch with something beyond yourself," says Serazin in conversation with veteran journalist Richard Sergay. "Those are the questions really at the base of what it means to be alive," continues Serazin, "and that is what we are probing through this call for ideas ― the Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing."

The intersection of existential or spiritual inquiry and science presents opportunities to use innovative methods as the delivery mechanism for new science and practical tools. "We’re very excited about building a community of what we call 'frontline workers of flourishing,' who can take new knowledge and plug that into their own work with people around the world — whether it’s gratitude, or forgiveness, or critical thinking."

Open science — research focused on the process of experimentation and protocols used, then made accessible to others worldwide — is one of the tenets essential to this community. Dr. Serazin and the foundation see cultivating this open approach to science as a key to progress. "Isolated groups working in very specific silos without communication are inefficient for understanding human flourishing... Embracing open science makes it possible to learn how we can promote flourishing in transparent, reproducible ways."

Dr. Serazin shares the effects he hopes TWCF's path of focus will achieve:

"I would love to look back in ten years and focus on success in three different areas:

One is that we’ve excited a whole new generation of researchers around the world who can feel successful in their own lives, in their own careers, by focusing on these topics.

Two, I hope that that mission is so attractive, that we can expand the circle of funders, both government and philanthropic, so that there are many voices around the table contributing their own resources to the topic. 

And lastly, and I think very importantly, that we’ve been able to show practical impact, and relate that impact to other areas that people care about. And that we’ve been so successful in this that policymakers have a new attitude towards the topic of flourishing, that they reorient their own thinking towards these areas."

Learn more about TWCF-funded research projects related to this episode.

Read the transcript from the interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay, presented by writer/producer Tavia Gilbert. Featuring: Dr. Andrew Serazin, President of Templeton World Charity Foundation.

This season premiere episode previews upcoming conversations with some of the global luminaries the frontline workers of flourishing mentioned above that the podcast will feature this year, including:

  • Dr. Deepak Chopra, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality.
  • Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and National Medal of Science recipient.
  • Judith Jamison, American dancer and choreographer and artistic director emerita of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
  • Wynton Marsalis, multiple Grammy-award winner and recipient of The National Humanities Medal.
  • Dr. Laurie Santos, Yale University Professor of Psychology and host of The Happiness Lab Podcast.

Built upon the award-winning video series of the same name, Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” podcast features stories of new scientific research on human flourishing that translate discoveries into practical tools. Bringing a mix of curiosity, compassion, and creativity, journalist Richard Sergay and host Tavia Gilbert shine a spotlight on the human impact at the heart of cutting-edge social and scientific research projects supported by TWCF.