Learning lessons in a community of spiritual scientists and practitioners: Growing the impact of the SoRSE program
TWCF Number
Project Duration
March 15 / 2024
- September 14 / 2025
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
North America
Amount Awarded

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Rebecca Dorsey
Institution Blueprint 1543

Justin Barrett
Institution Blueprint 1543

This project aims to bring together grantees of TWCF’s Science of Religious and Spiritual Exercises (primarily psychologists), expert practitioners of religious and spiritual practices from religious communities and other applied contexts (e.g., chaplaincy), researchers and scholars who study religious and spiritual practices from other disciplinary backgrounds, and researchers with experience of engaging with innovation and industry to explore and deepen their knowledge of the following:

  1. The potential value and benefits of psychologists’ (and other researchers using experimental methods) engagement with practitioners for advancing scientific research
  2. The potential challenges of conducting practice-engaged scientific research, and how to anticipate, manage, and overcome these challenges
  3. The potential value and benefits of practitioners being open engaging with psychologists and religious studies scholars for advancing the goals of religious and spiritual communities
  4. The potential for TWCF-funded projects to lead to the development of innovations, in line with the “innovation” stream of TWCF’s Science of Religious and Spiritual Exercises (SORSE) initiative.

Blueprint 1543 will plan and facilitate a three-day workshop for SORSE grantees, a select number of practitioner collaborators of grants in the initiative, and a small number of additional stakeholders (e.g. innovators with an interest in religion and spirituality; developers of science-informed technologies and tools for promoting well-being, etc.). The workshop will be designed to a) enable sharing of and learning from projects in the Science of Religious and Spiritual Exercises initiative, and b) identify researchers, practitioners, and innovators in the group who are amendable and well-suited to collaboration for the purposes of innovation, and c) to explore opportunities for future collaborative work and innovation development. The workshop will include up to 38 participants and guests, and is tentatively scheduled for spring 2025.

This project is important because cross-disciplinary collaboration does not happen naturally nor easily, even if there is shared interest and available funding. There are effective methods to create the conditions under which collaboration is more likely (and likely to generate useful outputs). This project aims to employ known methods for facilitating productive science-religion engagement, and also draw out and record insights from SORSE grantees, all of whom have been experimenting with such collaborations as part of their grants. It is therefore a structured learning to allow grantees and other stakeholders to share and learn from their experience, and to capture this knowledge so that it can be shared more widely.

The primary outputs of the project are 1) the workshop itself and 2) a guidebook, based on learnings from the meeting, that can be used to facilitate real-time partnerships with researchers and practitioners. The event itself and post-event outputs will be relevant to and hopefully informative for current grantees, future SORSE applicants and grantees, and to researchers who are interested in doing cross-disciplinary (e.g. psychology and religious studies) and cross-sector (e.g., psychological science and tool development) work.

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