Meghan Sullivan receives Templeton Grant

Author: Christine Grandy

Meghan Sullivan, a Notre Dame professor of philosophy, leading a session of her God and the Good Life course.Meghan Sullivan, a Notre Dame professor of philosophy, leading a session of her God and the Good Life course.

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Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study receives $2.97 million grant from John Templeton Foundation to develop signature courses on human flourishing.

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) a $2.97 million grant to support faculty seeking to translate research on human flourishing into “signature courses” — pedagogically innovative, large-scale courses that have an outsize impact on a university curriculum and the broader public discussion.

The three-year grant will provide funding for 15 faculty members from Notre Dame and national or international institutions to join the NDIAS as Signature Course Fellows, where they will spend a semester or summer in residence developing signature courses on topics connected to human flourishing.

“As we confront a period of unprecedented social, economic and technological change, new questions are emerging about how to build happy and meaningful lives,” said Meghan Sullivan, director of the NDIAS and the Wilsey Family College Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame. “We believe that with the right support, signature courses have a singular power to transform how we approach this urgent topic, both within the academy and in the broader public debate. Thanks to the generous support of the John Templeton Foundation, researchers will now have the opportunity to gain the time, resources and training they need to build a course that will transform their students, positively influence the public debate and accelerate their careers.”

Sullivan’s own signature course, God and the Good Life, has instructed thousands of students since its beginning in 2016 and is now a primary way for students to experience philosophy at Notre Dame. The course served as the basis of Sullivan’s recent book, “The Good Life Method: Reasoning Through the Big Questions of Happiness, Faith, and Meaning” (Penguin Books, 2022), co-authored with her fellow God and the Good Life instructor, Paul Blaschko, assistant teaching professor of philosophy and director of the Sheedy Family Program in Economy, Enterprise, and Society.

“The success of Meghan Sullivan’s God and the Good Life course at Notre Dame speaks to the deep desire for meaning among contemporary students,” said John T. McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at the University of Notre Dame. “Meghan’s signature course has benefited thousands of Notre Dame undergraduates and served as a national model for innovative pedagogy. I am grateful to the Templeton Foundation for recognizing her work and providing an opportunity for Notre Dame to support faculty from across the country seeking to develop similarly transformational courses.”

The Signature Course Fellowship program includes a robust lineup of activities designed to help faculty develop, launch and maintain their courses, including a four-day opening retreat, weekly planning seminars, and training sessions led by experts on public engagement, website development and co-curricular program building.

After their residency, fellows will launch their course at their home institution and commit to teaching it for at least three semesters. Fellows will convene at the conclusion of the grant for a summative conference, providing them the opportunity to demonstrate course content and share lessons learned.

Semester-long fellows will receive a $50,000 stipend during their semester of residency, and summer-based fellows will receive a $15,000 stipend during their four weeks of residency. All fellows will be given subsidized housing, design funds to help build their courses, a sub-grant to their home university to facilitate the course launch and support from student research assistants.

The grant will also support the hiring of two new NDIAS staff members to help administer the program.

In joining the NDIAS, Signature Course Fellows will become part of an institute that has long sought to make interdisciplinary research on questions related to value, meaning and purpose accessible to broad audiences. Founded in 2008, the NDIAS convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty fellows, graduate students and undergraduate scholars each year to study questions that engage complex ethical challenges of our time and affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives.

The NDIAS selected “The Good Life” as its organizing research theme for the 2024-25 academic year. The Signature Course Fellows will be integrated into the institute’s broader cohort of Good Life faculty, doctoral and undergraduate fellows and the programming it is developing to support them, such as research seminars, guest lectures, film screenings and community events.
Signature Course Fellowships are open to distinguished or high-potential tenure-stream scholars of any discipline who are developing a signature course on a topic connected to human flourishing. To learn more about the Signature Course Fellowship program, including how to apply, visit