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News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960
Fax: 443-287-9920

April 17, 2007
CONTACT: Amy Lunday
acl@jhu.edu, 443-287-9960
Julia Loving, Metanexus Institute
215-789-2200, loving@metanexus.net

Johns Hopkins Philosophers Win
Templeton Research Grant

A team of professors in the sciences and humanities at The Johns Hopkins University is one of two university-based groups to receive 2007 Templeton Research Lectures grants, three-to-four year project grants of up to $500,000 to promote important conversations at the forefront of the field of science and religion. Johns Hopkins and the other winner, Boston University, were selected through an international competition managed by the Philadelphia-based Metanexus Institute, which is announcing the winners today.

Led by Steven Gross, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, the Johns Hopkins project, "Evolution, Cognition, and Culture," will explore the explosion of interdisciplinary research in the cognitive science of religion and its implications — specifically for religion, public policy, and the general understanding of evolution, cognition and culture. Much of this will be accomplished through interdisciplinary study groups and an annual distinguished lectureship.

Gross, who specializes in the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and metaphysics, said the grant is of great importance to Johns Hopkins because it will supply a much needed catalyst and opportunity for its widely dispersed scholars of religion to exchange ideas both with one another and with Johns Hopkins' scientific community.

"Johns Hopkins is thrilled to receive this funding from Metanexus," Gross said. "Researchers are only just beginning to understand the complex interactions among evolution, cognition, and culture, and religious belief and practice has provided some of the most fertile ground for thinking about these matters. This exciting interdisciplinary work not only promises to shed light on the role of religiosity in human lives, but also offers a particularly fruitful site for reflection on the place and limits of a scientific understanding of ourselves."

The Metanexus Institute advances scientific research, education and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion. Metanexus is a leader in a growing network of individuals and groups exploring the dynamic interface between cosmos, nature, and culture in communities and on campuses throughout the world. Metanexus sponsors dialogue groups, lectures, workshops, research, courses, grants, and publications. Metanexus leads and facilitates more than 400 projects in 43 countries. Projects include the Local Societies Initiative, the Templeton Research Lectures and topical interdisciplinary research projects such as the Spiritual Transformation Scientific Research Project, Spiritual Capital, the Templeton Advanced Research Program and other endeavors. A membership organization, Metanexus hosts an online journal with more than 370,000 monthly page views and 9,000 subscribers in 57 countries. More information is online at http://www.metanexus.net.

"As the pace of scientific discovery and innovation accelerates, there is an urgent cultural need to reflect thoughtfully about these epic changes and challenges" notes William Grassie, executive director of the Metanexus Institute, who manages the international grant competition. "The challenges of the 21st century require new interdisciplinary collaborations, which place questions of meanings and values on the agenda. We need to put questions about the universe and the universal back at the heart of the university."

Past winners of the Templeton Research Lectures grants are the Arizona State University, Stony Brook University, University of Frankfurt, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, the University of Arizona, the University of Southern California, UCLA, the University of Montr‚al, Stanford University, Bar Ilan University, Columbia University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Templeton Research Lectures are made possible by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The mission of the John Templeton Foundation is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life's biggest questions. These questions range from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity. The foundation is dedicated to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship exemplified by their support for open-minded inquiry and hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.

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