Eleven awards will pursue groundbreaking science in the field of human flourishing. 

Templeton World Charity Foundation made an initial investment in a $60 million commitment for bold research that pushes the boundaries of scientific knowledge to help people flourish. The foundation announced the 11 inaugural awards of the Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing

The Awardees

More than 500 teams of scientists from over 350 academic institutions across the world answered the request for ideas, which push beyond traditional measures of physical and mental health to include happiness, meaning and purpose, spiritual well-being and striving in adversity. The 11 awards represent the work of more than 40 researchers at over two dozen institutions. This amounts to more than $1 million to encourage further exploration of these ideas and the advancement of science in human flourishing. 

The teams will influence the foundation’s thought leadership initiatives exploring innovations at the heart of human flourishing. The awardees will advise the foundation on its next initiatives, as well as participate in webinars, articles and other opportunities to amplify the science. Click here for more on the Awardees and their projects.

An Interdisciplinary Approach

“Human flourishing is an enormous, and as yet still largely uncharted, field for scientific inquiry,” said Templeton World Charity Foundation President Andrew Serazin. “We are incredibly pleased with the high caliber and scientific ambition of the ideas submitted. Successful ideas were those which had global relevance and comprised deep interdisciplinary teams.”

The Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing request for ideas was launched in September 2020 with the intention to support a robust pipeline of projects aimed at improving key aspects of human flourishing. Broadly, human flourishing can include a range of dimensions under which human beings are at their best—physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being—and it further suggests growth, resilience and progress.The contemporary study of human flourishing encompasses vast subject matter from the role of artificial intelligence in democracies to the health benefits of forgiveness. Research in the field often joins disciplines as disparate as neuroscience, engineering, and philosophy in pursuit of deeper understanding and new innovations.

Templeton World’s Strategic Focus

The request for ideas is just the first stage of the Templeton World Charity Foundation’s new strategy to support a growing group of researchers committed to discovering new knowledge, developing new tools, and launching new innovations. 

The following 11 projects thematically fall into two broad areas: (1) global flourishing and (2) listening and learning in a polarized world. The global flourishing area focuses on the exploration of common aspects of individual and community flourishing across many diverse societies, nations and human circumstances in the world today. Listening and learning in a polarized world seeks to understand and promote positive human traits such as cooperation and listening.

The initial Grand Challenges for Human Flourishing Awards tackle such questions as: 

  • How do adolescents flourish? Looking through a gender lens, what physical, mental, and social milestones are most important? 
  • How might we lead a psychologically rich life, going beyond happiness and meaning?
  • How does compassion transform the level of care in the global health systems, particularly in the face of suffering?
  • How do people facing deep adversity flourish and what social systems and resources do they count on to do so? 
  • What constitutes human flourishing in 88% of the world — the portion not studied in the over-sampling of university students based in western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic (WEIRD) populations? 
  • What can we learn from various perspectives throughout Sub-Saharan Africa regarding new and different aspects of human flourishing?
  • How do we seek truth and is that key in combating misinformation? 
  • How might we build a scientific understanding of what listening is, when one feels listened to and how to improve listening?
  • Across cultures and generations, how do the stories we tell ourselves influence our worldviews, mindsets and behaviors?
  • How might we develop better anti-racism programs by studying how emotion, as a psychological system, influences prejudice?
  • How will culture evolve in the 21st century and how can we harness it to promote human flourishing?

For more about the Scientific Teams and their initiatives, click here

About Templeton World Charity Foundation: 

Since 1996, Templeton World Charity Foundation has served as a global philanthropic catalyst for discoveries around big questions of the universe in areas at the intersection of science, theology, philosophy, and society. The Foundation has embarked on an ambitious five-year strategic framework focusing on the discovery, development, and launch of innovations that enable human flourishing.


For More Information

To request interviews with Templeton World Charity Foundation President Andrew Serazin or any of the Awardees’ whose ideas are mentioned above, please contact Karen Sommer Shalett, Principal Advisor, Global Advocacy and Communications, +1 202.250.9391.