This unique video project aims to highlight human stories and critical perspectives brought to light through grants and funding opportunities. These episodes share groundbreaking ideas which concern life’s “Big Questions” and showcase core life values: seek a global perspective, think like a start-up, create positive impact for people, promote breakthrough discovery, embrace differences, and make spiritual progress possible.
As both a groundbreaking philanthropist and legendary investor, Sir John Marks Templeton spent a lifetime dedicated to open-mindedness. Born on November 29, 1912, in Winchester, Tennessee, he graduated near the top of his class from Yale University (1934) and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he earned a law degree (1936). Templeton embarked on his Wall Street career in 1938, when he began conceiving and launching some of the world’s most successful international investment funds. In 1954, he established the Templeton Growth Fund, which pioneered the use of globally diversified mutual funds. Money magazine would hail him as “arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century.”
Just as remarkable as Templeton’s financial career was his dedication to progress and philanthropy. Known as a contrarian investor, he was also a fierce optimist and relentless questioner in his personal life. Templeton thus promoted the discovery of “new spiritual information”: progress in understanding the deepest realities of human nature and the physical world, subjects that he believed should be investigated with the tools of modern science.
Convinced that our knowledge of the universe was still very limited, he sought to encourage open-mindedness about the character of ultimate reality and the divine. To this end, in 1972, he established the Templeton Prize, the world’s largest annual award given to an individual, to honor a living innovator of life’s spiritual dimension. He also founded three charitable entities (the Templeton World Charity Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Templeton Religion Trust) to carry out his philanthropic mission.
Templeton was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder of his denomination and as a trustee of Princeton Theological Seminary. His own views, however, did not conform to orthodoxy, and he espoused a “humble approach” to theology.
Eager to learn from both science and the world’s faith traditions, he believed that “scientific revelations may be a gold mine for revitalizing religion in the 21st century.” He expected his foundations to stand apart from consideration of dogma or personal religious belief and to seek out grantees who are “innovative, creative, enthusiastic, and open to competition and new ideas” in their approach to the Big Questions.
In the late 1960s, Templeton moved to Nassau, the Bahamas, where he became a naturalized British citizen. In 1987, Queen Elizabeth II named him a Knight Bachelor for his many philanthropic accomplishments. Throughout his long life, he wrote or edited more than a dozen books.
When Sir John passed away in 2008 at age 95, he was honored around the world with tributes that extolled his vision and the extraordinary breadth of his career. Today, his charitable contributions continue to engender dialogue between science and spirituality.
This two-year project, based in Cape Town and managed by the Children’s Radio Foundation, was aimed at training a new generation of youth radio reporters throughout the country. The reporters focused on an African spiritual and philosophical concept known as “Ubuntu” and how it impacted their community. Ubuntu generally means, "I exist because of you." Explore this universal concept through the eyes of young radio reporters and their mentor – what they learned and the impact it had.Watch Now
A Rice University project explores the attitudes and boundaries between science and religion among scientists in eight national contexts. A global survey asks key questions about the relationship between science and faith – for example, whether it is a relationship of conflict or compatibility? How do various cultures around the world reflect on this relationship? Can beauty find a place in scientific reasoning and work? Take a deep dive among three scientists and the project leader who discuss their attitudes and findings about science and religion.Watch Now
The project explores the intersection of science and religion and how students think about both. What are the Big Questions that each discipline can answer best and why? What are the factors which students feel influence their views on each subject? How does a multidisciplinary approach to pedagogy improve both teaching and learning? Follow a daylong workshop to see students participating in a forum on these critical issues.Watch Now
The Centre for Existential Risk, based at the University of Cambridge, was founded to explore critical threats that could end life on earth, as we know it. Lord Martin Rees, one of the Centre’s founders says, “Of the 45 million centuries of the Earth’s history, this one is very special. It is the first century that one species – us – holds the future of the planet in our hands.” So take a fast-paced tour through the Centre’s work and thinking on biological risks, environmental risks, as well as the risks and potential of artificial intelligence.Watch Now
More than a decade after one of the most devastating natural catastrophes to hit the US mainland, explore the complex relationship between a community and its faith. Witness a very moving examination of how faith can enable people to survive such horror and loss, and yet still remain resilient enough to rebuild a community torn asunder.Watch Now
How does altruism begin. Is it biological? Is it taught? This show features a fascinating investigation of the genesis of altruism. A leading developmental psychologist at the University of Seattle is doing ground breaking DNA research, supported by Templeton, on the biological roots of altruism in toddlers. Never been reported before. It's a very compelling story.Watch Now
This never before reported on topic focuses on the cognitive evolution and intelligence within animals and features Duke University Evolutionary Anthropologist Brian Hare. Brian is well known for his Dognition research, yet this story covers a much more elaborate study executed by a global community of researchers who put their heads together on animal cognition.Watch Now
Can artificial intelligence help us be more moral? This story focuses on whether you can imbed computers with a sense of morality using artificial intelligence. What will our future look like with a world integrated by such updated systems, and especially what the implications are for decision making in hospital settings!Watch Now
This show features the never before reported SETI project meets Whales. An in-depth story explaining how researchers are trying to understand Humpback Whale communications and whether that might help academics in the search for alien intelligence while deciphering potential signals from extraterrestrial. The episode is a mind-bending yarn.Watch Now
Ramanujan was a very poor Indian who won a coveted spot at Cambridge University in the 1920's. The Ramanujan Math Award is in his honor and finds young talent around the globe in order to encourage them to pursue a career in mathematics. This show focuses on the journeys of two young math geniuses and high school stars from Atlanta and Baltimore.Watch Now
This show focuses on a compelling conversation with American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks and the Program on Human Flourishing. He explores whether Capitalism is broken and if poverty can really ever be alleviated or if democracy is irrevocably stressed to the breaking point in the USA.Watch Now
This episode features some major players in our government’s landscape who explain their opinions on the correlation between democracy and technology. How is online information impacting our decision making in what some call a post-truth world? What is happening to community, neighborliness and our understanding of morality? This conversation invokes interesting and thoughtful ideas about the future of citizenship as it’s gradually impacted by machine learning mechanisms and their consequences.Watch Now
This show features Andrew Barron, Professor of Cognitive Neuroethology, has dedicated his career to understanding the brains of humans, other living beings and even machinery in an effort to create a boundary for what real intelligence is and isn’t. This specific project, funded in part by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, focuses on the brain of a honey bee because of its complex system. The discoveries found in this project answer complicated questions about intelligent beings and their evolutions. How do we account for complex learning, complex navigation, complex memory and complex assessment?Watch Now
This episode focuses on Autism and social cognition, featuring a dynamic group of individuals who explain how they cope with their autistic attributes in varying ways. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh use funds provided by the Templeton World Charity Foundation to perform elaborate studies that are swiftly redefining the meaning and stigmas surrounding “social cognition diseases.” These studies additionally place a large emphasis on creating communities that are healthy and practical for people who struggle with accepting their unique social attributes.Watch Now
For many years, the American Chestnut Tree was one of the indisputable historical symbols of America and the Appalachians until it was wiped out by a blight brought over by the Asian Chestnut Tree in the beginning of the 20th century- an epidemic thought to be one of the largest environmental disasters in the United States. Today, scientists at SUNY are using funding provided by the Templeton World Charity Foundation to continue The Chestnut Project, which uses modern technology to solve one our nation’s largest environmental issues and restore this functionally extinct species.Watch Now
The power to forgive is one that is uniquely human. Overcoming adversity and negative feelings as a society as well as individually is one of the most potent actions on Earth- changing lives in an instant. Professor Everett Worthington Jr. at Virginia Commonwealth University explains the science behind forgiveness, the types of forgiveness and implications where wide spread forgiveness has occurred in history. Researchers including Professor Everett Worthington Jr. use funds provided by the Templeton World Charity Foundation to further explore and share knowledge about the psychological and physiological effects of forgiveness and “un-forgiveness.”Watch Now
Positivity Resonance is defined by positive emotions in which we co-experience. These emotions are collaborative, and impacted by micro-moments spent with others in our day-to-day lives. From sharing a laugh with a stranger in line at the grocery store, to discussing your day with an acquaintance, to seeing your friend in the street, these small moments of joy can affect our degrees of virtue. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill use funding sourced by the Templeton World Charity Foundation to study this idea that frequently experienced mild positive emotions are major drivers in our health and well-being.Watch Now
Artificial Intelligence is having a much larger impact on our global society than most assume. The Bishop of Oxford offers his insight, opinion and wisdom pertaining to AI, artificial intelligence and data ethics. Thought provoking questions are addressed about future predictions, unique perspectives, and how humans will flourish with AI technologies when integrated into everyday life. The Bishop of Oxford has been using his platform to unlock a unique role of the Anglican Church, to help the world understand how artificial intelligence technologies may be deployed across a wide range of industries.Watch Now
Understanding language is a major obstacle in recognizing the diversity of intelligence across Earth's many species. Denise Herzing's project seeks to find linguistic richness in the vocalizations of dolphins and apply artificial intelligence to assess sounds on a structural level. We have not had the ability to distinguish nonhuman communication like this until now. New discoveries in dolphin language code will represent a paradigm shift in the way we understand diverse intelligence. Do other species besides humans have language? How would we recognize a nonhuman language if it existed? And how might we begin to assess the structure and patterns of signals to interpret the meaning of nonhuman communication?Watch Now
Consciousness is a foundational concept for understanding human nature, but there is little agreement on what anatomical structures and physiological functions produce consciousness. There is no doubt that questions about consciousness are some of the most complex researchers have tackled today and throughout history; What is Consciousness? Where does it reside? How can scientists discern a "correct" theory of consciousness to rule out inaccurate theories? The Templeton World Charity Foundation’s Accelerating Research on Consciousness initiative (ARC) proposes avenues for addressing these questions,. Drawing on best practices in open science and adversarial collaboration, ARC promotes open and rigorous engagement among leaders of opposing theories.Watch Now
Cumulative culture can be defined by the knowledge systems, technologies, and innovations which are passed on from generation to generation. So, why is it that our closest primate relative, the chimpanzee hasn’t notably evolved physically or cognitively, whereas humans have evolved tremendously?Watch Now