The John Templeton Foundation has awarded three grants totaling $2.05 million to Boston College's Lynch School of Education and Human Development to fund three separate projects, each led by a different faculty member.
The first initiative, titled “Cura Psychologia,” aims to transform the way that psychological science is conceptualized, taught, and practiced at six Jesuit universities: Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Loyola Marymount (Los Angeles), Seattle, and Boston College. Helmed by David M. Goodman, faculty member and the associate dean for Strategic Initiatives and External Relations, the three-year program seeks to enrich the connections between the respective psychology, philosophy, and theology departments at each of the campuses.
“If psychology is to reach its full potential as a means of not only informing our understanding of the human condition, but also aiding in the development of moral and civic virtue, then the disciplines that have traditionally dealt with character — theology and philosophy — must become essential aspects of psychological education and training,” said Goodman. “The ultimate objective is to create fertile ecosystems in which these three fields of inquiry and practice can illuminate one another on topics of moral, ethical, and communal significance.”
The second undertaking, led by Martin Scanlan, an associate professor in the department of Educational Leadership and Higher Education, examines the organizational, curricular, and institutional factors that advance character formation in networks of Catholic elementary, middle and secondary schools. The three-year investigation will identify the resources and constraints that schools face while holistically educating their students, and build multimedia case studies and professional development offerings to promote pedagogies of character formation more broadly, both within and beyond the field of Catholic education.
“Character formation is at the heart of Catholic schooling,” said Scanlan. “Yet little is known about the challenges that schools face, as well as how to effectively capitalize on their assets in their effort to achieve that goal. The project’s outcomes will help mission-driven schools across sectors leverage communities of practice to fortify their formative education methodology.”
It’s wonderful to see the Templeton Foundation recognize the distinctive projects being done by our faculty in the area of formative education and character development. Understanding and fostering the development of whole people, including ethical and spiritual aspects, is a particular strength of the Lynch School. It’s great that one of the most important foundations in this area is recognizing the breath and importance of our work.”
The third program also centers on pre-college education through a collaboration with EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning), a national nonprofit that partners with K-12 educators in diverse, high-need communities to transform public schools and districts into hubs of opportunity for all students. A distinctive feature of EL Education, founded over 20 years ago through the collaboration of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound, is its goal of developing the “curiosity, skills, knowledge, and courage needed to imagine a better world and work toward realizing it” among its students.
“A promising opportunity in EL schools for the development of such civic character is a daily meeting called ‘Crew,’” said Scott Seider, an associate professor in the Counseling, Developmental & Educational Psychology department. “Students gather with a small group of peers and a teacher to build relationships and engage in honest and courageous conversations about issues that impact their lives. Although a common structure across EL schools, there is substantial variation in how educators lead their respective Crews. Our project will engage EL educators across the network to identify, test, and refine promising practices within Crew that nurture students’ civic character strengths such as knowledge of social issues, feelings of social responsibility, and efficacy to effect change."
Slated to begin during the 2022-23 school year, a key outcome will be a multimedia toolkit designed to bolster the capacity and effectiveness of Crew leaders throughout the EL Education network and the 45,000 students they serve, as well as educators throughout the U.S. who are interested in implementing such advisories.
“It’s wonderful to see the Templeton Foundation recognize the distinctive projects being done by our faculty in the area of formative education and character development,” said Stanton E. F. Wortham, the Charles F. Donovan, S.J., Dean of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development. “Understanding and fostering the development of whole people, including ethical and spiritual aspects, is a particular strength of the Lynch School. It’s great that one of the most important foundations in this area is recognizing the breath and importance of our work.”
One of the nation’s 25 largest grant-making philanthropies, the Templeton Foundation supports efforts to advance human wellbeing through rigorous scientific research and field-leading scholarship across the sciences, theology, and philosophy.
Phil Gloudemans | University Communications | July 2022