Accelerating Global Spiritual Innovation
TWCF Number
Project Duration
November 1 / 2022
- October 31 / 2025
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
North America
Amount Awarded

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Angie Thurston
Institution The Tides Center

Casper ter Kuile
Institution The Tides Center

What is spiritual innovation? How do spiritual innovators in the 21st century interpret and iterate on ancient wisdom to meet contemporary and future challenges? How can such evolving wisdom be made accessible to all who want it in an increasingly global, religiously pluralistic, digital world?

Sacred Design Lab (SDL) aims to facilitate progress in spiritual innovation by contending with these and other questions. Building on their previous work which has focused largely on religious and spiritual innovation in the US, a new three-year project led by SDL co-founders Sue Phillips, Angie Thurston, and Casper ter Kuile will consider spiritual innovation across the globe. The project seeks to map the global landscape of spiritual innovation, propose a working definition of spiritual innovation, explore the characteristics of spiritual innovators and innovations, and identify qualities differentiating rigorous, high-impact, scalable innovations. 

Following field visits and interviews with innovators, the project will produce a written report on the landscape of global, trans-religious spiritual innovation. The team's initial findings from the field visits will be reviewed by an advisory group, and will directly inform questions to be used for in-depth interviews with spiritual innovators around the world. Throughout the process, SDL will be explicit about their assumptions from working within a Western, liberal frame, and will consider these assumptions in the global context. Themes and case studies that result from this work will be described in a public-facing report following editorial input from the advisory group and interviewees. The piece will be journalistic in tone, written to reach an international audience of innovators and potential innovators, traditional religious leaders and institutions, funders, and investors.

The team will then translate their findings from the interviews and report into a tool to share stories from the global landscape of spiritual innovation, frame concepts and strategic opportunities for those who support it, and deliver resources to innovators and potential innovators. Other resources outputted from this project may include webinars to promote the global landscape report and the website; a convening for scientists and practitioners; and a rubric for evaluating spiritual innovation.

The project is commissioning illustrations of spiritual innovation for the report from 10 artists around the world.

The above image is an illustration by Hatiye Garip, Istanbul, Turkey.

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