Each year, the Center of Theological Inquiry welcomes a community of scholars whose research engages fundamental questions of global concern. CTI fellows in residence in 2015-16 will join one another and leading scientists in the study of life in the universe and the societal implications of this new research. Many disciplines and diverse individual research projects are relevant to understanding the science of life and how it becomes part of daily experience and shapes the human future. 

We welcome proposals from scholars in theology, religious studies, humanities, the arts, and natural and social sciences who see the connections between their own research and the science of astrobiology. The key requirements are a record of scholarly achievement, an original research proposal of high quality, and a commitment to the collaborative research community and sustained interdisciplinary discussion that daily work in the Center’s facilities makes possible.

Those who have already applied for fellowships during the application period that closed on January 30 will receive full consideration for all available 2015-16 fellowships and need not make a second application. 


For research scholars who welcome interdisciplinary discussion of the origin, evolution, distribution,
and future of life in the universe

2015-16 Academic Year in Residence in Princeton, NJ

ONLINE APPLICATION WINDOW: February 23, 2015 – March 23, 2015

With support from the NASA Astrobiology Program and

The John Templeton Foundation

Each year, the Center of Theological Inquiry welcomes a residential community of scholars who pursue fundamental questions of global concern. We invite proposals for 2015-16 that will engage with the societal implications of astrobiology.





The Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) is an independent research institution with a resident scholar program to advance our mission: we convene leading scholars in an interdisciplinary research environment where theology makes an impact on global concerns, and we share those discoveries to change the way people think and act. We welcome applications from research scholars in theology, the humanities, and sciences. The Center is located in Princeton, NJ, which offers scholars and their families a rich variety of academic and cultural resources.




CTI’s resident scholar program is interdisciplinary: CTI fellows welcome our core dialogue between theology and other disciplines. They are dedicated to scholarship and open to new evidence. They show generosity of spirit in human relations and gratitude for our interdisciplinary environment, contributing to its impact. Our program is intensive: CTI fellows live in our housing and work full-time in our center. It is not for those who wish to work at home and live apart. Our program fosters collaboration with colleagues in community, balanced by time for one’s own research.




Societal understanding of the meaning, value, and future of life on earth has always developed in dialogue with scientific investigation of its origin and evolution. Today, the new science of astrobiology extends this search for understanding to include the possibility of other life, elsewhere in the universe. Astrobiology brings what we know about earth’s biology together with what astronomers can tell us about the formation and development of planets and with the principles of physics and chemistry that make life possible. Those who study the origins and development of life on earth now think about how it might emerge and develop in other environments. 

These scientific investigations will change the way we think about ourselves, too. The discovery of another form of life, whether microbial or complex, would remind us of the intricate molecular mechanisms that connect all living things on earth. But it would also tell us that there are analogies to those molecules far beyond our world. How then would theology relate these diverse forms of life to one another and to God? What would the disciplines of anthropology and psychology tell us about minds and cultures in relation to what might be a quite different biology? If there are many different forms of life, known and unknown to us, how would philosophers establish the extension of the term “living”? How would art and literature depict life as we know it against this background of other possibilities? To what extent do our moral relations depend on the biology we share with other persons and other life? Would our obligations in a very different ecology be similar to those we have in our own, or would they differ in important ways? With all these unanswered questions about life in the universe, how do we organize ourselves to investigate the possibilities? How do we assess the risks and possibilities of those investigations? What changes can we expect as a result of the discoveries we will make?

A comprehensive understanding of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe requires dialogue with the best current science and collaboration across conventional disciplinary boundaries to explore its implications. The Center of Theological Inquiry provides a setting where scholars can develop research and writing projects that contribute to societal understanding of this new science of life in the universe.




Research scholars selected for the Inquiry will be resident fellows at the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI). Up to twelve appointments will be made for the academic year from September 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016. Priority will be given to applicants seeking a full year in residence, but proposals for one semester will also be considered. Funding for these fellowships for 2015-16 has been made possible by support from the NASA Astrobiology Program and the John Templeton Foundation.

Research Fellows at CTI come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds and share a commitment to open, interdisciplinary discussion of fundamental questions from perspectives in theology, religious studies, humanities, the arts, or natural and social sciences. In 2015-16, they will participate in a weekly colloquium to share work in progress with their colleagues and in a program of symposia, conferences, and consultations with visiting scientists that is designed to acquaint them with current developments in astrobiology and relate these scientific findings to their own research. Support for these symposia, conferences, and consultations is provided by the NASA Astrobiology Program.

CTI seeks applications from scholars who share these interdisciplinary interests and a commitment to intensive, critical engagement with colleagues who are pursuing similar research. Successful applicants will propose a writing project that is at an appropriate stage of development to benefit from these opportunities and to enrich the work of the other resident scholars. 


CTI invites applications from faculty members at accredited academic institutions and from independent scholars with an established record of published scholarship. Applicants must hold the PhD or another advanced research degree by the date of their appointment. 


Please note that CTI does not support off‐site research, the development of curricula or teaching materials, work in professional practice, direct advocacy of causes, or academic work in residence in other places.


CTI welcomes international applicants who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. However, such applications can only be considered if the applicant is eligible for a J-1 Visa during the requested period of the fellowship. It is the sole responsibility of such applicants to confirm their own eligibility prior to making an application. Please consult the official U.S. Department of State website for this information:

J1 Visa Information




Research Fellows will have access to library facilities in Princeton, and each team member will have a study in CTI’s Henry Luce Hall and a townhouse at CTI’s Vella Handly Templeton Residences, located in a residential neighborhood three miles from Luce Hall.


Residents pay their own utilities and a subsidized monthly housing fee. Please note that CTI has a strict no smoking and no pets policy.   


Fellows are required to make Luce Hall their regular place of work at least four days a week during their appointment and to participate in scheduled events related to the current Inquiry. Because CTI aims to provide ideal conditions for sustained research and writing away from regular professional and institutional obligations, external commitments should be kept to a minimum. Research Fellows may not hold teaching assignments in Princeton or elsewhere during the term of their appointment, nor should they accept invitations for lectures, conferences, or other professional obligations without prior consultation with the Director.


As an integral part of our research environment, CTI fellows who do not ordinarily live in the Princeton area are required to live in the Templeton Residences during their term of appointment.




Research fellowship awards are determined by CTI and will vary according to the current salary and other circumstances of individual fellows. Typical awards are one-half of an individual’s current salary for a nine-month fellowship appointment. Research Fellows who are supported by their home institution or by other funding sources may receive an additional allowance toward living expenses in Princeton. 


Applicants are encouraged to seek funding from other sources. They must take care, however, that any other awards they may accept do not conflict with the requirements of the CTI program.



The application includes general information about academic experience and qualifications, a curriculum vitae (no more than 10 pages), a writing project proposal (2000 words, including a 150 word abstract), and a specific statement of how the applicant’s work will benefit from participation in the residential research community at CTI (250 words). Each applicant must also supply three recommendations, to be submitted online by references who are familiar with the applicant’s scholarship and the proposed writing project.   


The online application window opens on Monday, February 23, 2015. Only online applications from eligible scholars received by March 23, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST will be considered. 


Please direct all queries about the online application process to: 

Application Manager




Completed and eligible online applications submitted by the March 23, 2015 closing date will be reviewed by the CTI’s Academic Advisory Panel. Highly qualified applicants will then be contacted for a personal interview with the Center’s Director. Applicants selected for interview may also be asked to provide additional information during the selection process.


Selection for an interview is based on the applicant’s research project proposal, record of scholarly achievement, and recommendations. Final selections also consider experience and aptitude in interdisciplinary research, fit between the applicant’s research project and other proposals, and the applicant’s ability and willingness to meet the program’s requirements for participation and residence. The final offer of appointment is made by the Center’s Director.  


CTI will inform all applicants of the decision on their application by April 30, 2015. Successful applicants must accept the Director’s offer of a Fellowship within ten working days. Research Fellows are required to sign an agreement with the Center of Theological Inquiry accepting the terms and conditions of their Fellowship.