Jul 30, 2020

Overview of Stories of Impact Podcast Season 1: What Social Science Has to Say About COVID-19

Templeton World Charity Foundation’s new podcast focused on the science of human flourishing tackles the global pandemic in its first season.

By Templeton Staff

Templeton World Charity Foundation’s new podcast series, Stories of Impact, has just concluded its first six-episode season. The podcast seeks to explore core scientific questions about what makes humans human, and what allows them to thrive and flourish. Each episode has several overarching questions at its core: What is our purpose? What is the meaning of our lives? What are we here to do?

According to host Richard Sergay, the podcast focuses on a central theme of “curiosity across science that allows us to explore human flourishing. What I’m hoping to generate are questions, not answers.”

At a time when humanity faces a range of existential challenges and rapid changes thanks to technology, “we need these conversations within this context right now,” says producer Tavia Gilbert. “We’re in this weird time where science is disdained and religion is dogma, and I think this podcast is the antithesis of that.”

Season one of the podcast focused on the different ways social scientists are studying and thinking about the coronavirus pandemic.

Episode 1: Introducing Stories of Impact

The first episode features an in-depth conversation with Templeton World Charity Foundation President Andrew Serazin about the legacy of Sir John Templeton, the human search for meaning, purpose and truth, and how our lives are transformed by science.

Episode 2: The Power of Positivity in a Pandemic with Dr. Barbara Fredrickson

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill speaks with host Richard Sergay about the importance of positive psychology during the COVID-19 pandemic. She offers advice on nurturing positive emotions and resilience during times of stress, and how to build strong social connections in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Episode 3: Encouraging Altruism During a Pandemic with Dr. Erez Yoeli

Dr. Erez Yoeli, director of the Applied Cooperation Team at the MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses how to motivate people to engage in positive, altruistic behaviors during a crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic. He argues that reputational concerns and peer pressure may be key in encouraging prosocial behavior.

Episode 4: Cooperation Amidst Catastrophe with Dr. Athena Aktipis

Dr. Athena Aktipis, co-director of the Human Generosity Project, discusses research about cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic and places it in historical context with what we know about human generosity during past crises.

Episode 5: Spirituality, Belong, & the Pandemic Response with Dr. Joseph Bulbulia

Dr. Joseph Bulbulia, professor at the University of Auckland and the MacLaurin Goodfellow Chair in Theological and Religious Studies, talks about how religious communities have responded to the coronavirus pandemic and the vital role religion plays in facilitating cooperation during disasters.

Episode 6: The Core Principles of Cooperation with Dr. David Sloan Wilson

Dr. David Sloan Wilson, professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University and president of the Evolution Institute, discusses the foundations of cooperation in human groups. Wilson and host Richard Sergay explore the ways in which humanity’s natural tendencies toward cooperation can help solve challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and how cooperation can be further encouraged to improve our response to the virus.