Global Perspectives project to launch next phase of research with $2 million grant

The Global Perspectives on Science and Spirituality (GPSS) project has received a $2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to support the GPSS Major Awards Program, which will promote a new round of research in the field of science and spirituality. Details...

The grant is a result of the successful first phase of the GPSS program from 2003 to 2006, which made 18 research awards totaling $1.2 million to scholars from many of the leading universities in Eastern Europe, Central Europe and Asia.

The GPSS program is based at Elon and U.I.P., a research institute based in Paris. The program, which can be found on the Internet at, is the largest grants competition to ever target Asia and Central/Eastern Europe in the field of science and religion.

Pranab Das, Elon physics department chair, serves as principal investigator for the GPSS Major Awards Program. Das was principal investigator and program director for the first phase of GPSS, which was also funded by a $2 million Templeton Foundation grant. Tom Mackenzie will serve as program director for the Major Awards Program.

Researchers from the first GPSS program will be eligible to apply for the Major Awards Program, along with select new groups of scholars. Das says grants in the Major Awards Program will be “significant, between $100,000 and $300,000 each.” The grants will support in-depth scholarly research as well as academic and public programs designed to invigorate and enhance the dialogue on science and spirituality worldwide.

Das will assemble a panel to judge applications for the Major Awards Program, with the winners to be announced in September. Winners will begin work on their research in late 2006 and continue through 2009.

The GPSS program is based at Elon and U.I.P., a research institute based in Paris. GPSS seeks to engage scholars from the non-Western world in the dialogue on science and spirituality, which Das believes is vital.

“In Asia and Eastern and Central Europe, we find scholars whose framework is different from those in the West,” says Das. “Generally, the readings of science are similar but the contexts in which those readings are placed are profoundly different. These scholars bring real novelty of approach and originality of vision to the field.”

Das has high hopes for the research the Major Awards Program will generate, based on the success of the first GPSS program. Highlights of the first program included:

  • One of India’s leading young philosophers who headed a team investigating the concepts of consciousness and agency in light of Indian religions
  • An elite Buddhist research center in Japan that conducted pioneering work on the relationship between Buddhism and modern science
  • An institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, that is among the first to establish public courses in science and religion and is working to develop ideas for the constructive engagement of science and religion in school curricula.