ABOUT OUR PROGRAM

CTI is an independent research institution in Princeton, NJ, running a distinctive program for visiting scholars. Each year the Director convenes a resident team of theologians and scholars in the sciences and humanities to work on a common topic. Their individual research projects contribute to the larger inquiry announced for that academic year. The Center invites applications from scholars in any discipline who welcome our research agenda, interdisciplinary approach, and residential community of scholarship.

In its current program for 2015-2017, CTI has announced two annual inquiries on the societal implications of astrobiology, awarding twenty four fellowships to participating scholars. This has been made possible by major grants from the NASA Astrobiology Program and the John Templeton Foundation.

ENVIRONMENT

  • The Center is designed to be an environment for fresh thinking.
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FRESH THINKING

  • At the heart of our environment for fresh thinking is the colloquium.
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2015–2017
INQUIRY ON THE SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS OF ASTROBIOLOGY

Societal understanding 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. These scientific investigations will change the way we think about ourselves, too. 

 


  • If there are many different forms of life, known and unknown to us, what does it mean to be “alive”?

  • How would art and literature depict life as we know it against this background of other possibilities?


  • Answers to these questions require dialogue with the best current science and collaboration across disciplinary boundaries. The Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology gathers scholars whose research contributes to societal understanding of this new science of life in the universe.

  • To what extent do our moral relations depend on the biology we share with other persons and other life?

  • With all these unanswered questions about life in the universe, how do we organize ourselves to investigate the possibilities?

RESEARCH TEAM, 2016-2017

CTI is pleased to announce the scholars in the research team for our Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology for the 2016-17 academic year. This interdisciplinary team of theologians and scholars in the humanities and social sciences will pursue their inquiry in dialogue with leading astrobiologists and with support from the NASA Astrobiology Program and the John Templeton Foundation. 

Robin Lovin, Senior Research Fellow & Inquiry Leader

2014–2015
INQUIRY ON LAW & RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

From the beginnings of human society, religion has shaped lives, formed identities, and held communities together. In the modern world, religious diversity has made religious freedom both a demand of individual conscience and a requirement of social peace. 

The question for law and society has been, “How much religious freedom can we allow?” New inquiries in history, anthropology, psychology, and sociology suggest that religion remains essential to human identity and social cohesion, even in a modern, pluralistic society. Perhaps, then, the question is, “How much religious freedom do we require?” Answering that question invites critical thinking about how a law that preserves religious freedom can be reconciled with the requirements of many different religions.

 


FOR NEWS ON RESEARCH, CLICK HERE

2013–2014
INQUIRY ON RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE & MORAL IDENTITY

Interdisciplinary studies in psychology, neuroscience, and cultural and biological anthropology are contributing to a comprehensive account of human nature that has never been possible before. Reductive theories that require a choice between monocausal explanations -- biological necessity or social construction, genetic inheritance or cultural formation, nature or nurture -- are giving way to interdisciplinary accounts of complex human phenomena that draw on multiple explanatory frameworks.

Theological accounts of virtue and vice, spiritual experience, and personal transformation have a place in this comprehensive interdisciplinary inquiry, which proceeds not by simply comparing perspectives, methods, and hypotheses, but by asking how each way of knowing can use the results of the other to shape its own substantive questions and future inquiries.


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2012–2013
INQUIRY ON EVOLUTION & HUMAN NATURE

New lines of research in evolutionary biology, anthropology, and behavioral science challenge conventional understandings of human nature and development, both in science and religion. These developments set the background for CTI’s Inquiry on Evolution and Human Nature in 2012-13. Through their individual research projects and critical, collaborative discussions, the team members worked toward a comprehensive, multi-leveled account of human experience, reaching from genetic origins to the cultural formations that transmit ideas and experience to new generations.


Discussions in the research team resulted in scholarly publications and public presentations that explore the role of religion in the evolution of human culture and the biological and cultural sources of cooperation that make human communities and traditions possible.

FOR NEWS ON RESEARCH, CLICK HERE