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Institute News

We periodically report articles of interest to our readers, but do not necessarily endorse the views of other websites or publications in which those articles also appear.

January 7, 2019

Institute Director Presents Research on Empathy

In September 2018, Institute director Nancy Snow participated in a webinar conference titled, “Empathy and Emotions in Morality, Communication, and Human Life.” Her presentation was on “Compassion, Empathy, and Prosocial Behavior.” A video of that presentation is available above.

Other speakers at the conference included Institute advisory board member, Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame; Michael Slote, UST Professor of Ethics and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami; Gustavo Carlo, Millsap Professor of Diversity at the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri; and Michael Frazer, Lecturer in Political and Social Theory in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language, and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK.

The event was co-sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Department of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. 

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December 13, 2018

Virtue Resource Library Opens at Norman High School

Virtue Resource Library Opening

In spring 2018, Dr. Nancy Snow (University of Oklahoma) and Dr. Scott Beck (Norman High School) gathered a team of teachers and librarians to compile a "Virtue Resource Library," containing books, articles, lesson plans, videos, and other media. The resource is located in Norman High School's Learning Commons and is available for all Oklahoma educators. Currently, it houses 3,840 print books, 52 websites and 12 PDFs.

On December 10, 2018, the library was introduced to the Norman community during Norman High School's Creativity and Learning Showcase. We comemorated the openning of the library with poetry readings of their own work by students from Norman High School, Norman North High School, Irving Middle School, Kennedy Elementary, Longfellow Middle School, Washington Elementary, Odyssey Leadership Academy, Santa Fe South High School and the Academy of Classical Christian Studies.

Download the program (PDF)  

View pictures of this event

Visit the Virtue Resource Library Website

Learn more about this event

December 5, 2018

Graduate Student Cross-Training Fellowships


The Society of Christian Philosophers invites applications for its Graduate Student Cross-Training Fellowship Program, with fellowships to begin fall 2019. The program is intended to equip graduate student members of the Society of Christian Philosophers with an opportunity to take up to one academic year to develop competency in an empirical science connected with their research.

Up to five fellowships will be awarded. Each Fellowship will provide recipients with a stipend of $31,000, plus an additional research fund for the applicant of $3,000. For more details and application instructions, please visit

Funding is provided by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

November 27, 2018

Michael Spezio and Team Find Humility is Key to Flourishing Communities and Functioning Democracy

Jean Venier

Featured Image: Jean Venier, founder of l’Arche and recipient of the 2015 Templeton Prize.
Photo by Elodie Perriot. Copyright 2011. Used with permission.

In 2016 the Self, Motivation and Virtue Project awarded a research grant to Michael Spezio (Scripps College) and Robert Roberts (Baylor University) to explore models of humility in “stable communities of care, forgiveness, and reconciliation.” The team’s research included extensive interviews with participants at l’Arche USA and l’Arche International (founded by Jean Venier, pictured above), and with the residents and staff at Homeboy Industries (based in Los Angeles, CA).

Building on that research, Spezio, Roberts and their fellow researcher Gregory Peterson (South Dakota State University) have suggested that humility is important for sustaining flourishing communities and democracies.

According to a recent press release, the team believes that

empathy proceeds from the mindset of accepting people based upon nothing more than a shared humanity, rather than their relatability or acceptability, which are concepts rooted in “in-group/out-group” mentality. According to Spezio, a rejection of “in-group/out-group” thinking is central to the functioning of a liberal democracy: “A liberal democracy takes trust in others. Without trust that others are going to keep you ‘in the in-group’ or dominant circle, liberal democracy is going to break down—we are going to all seek ways of creating our own or finding the dominant circle, and then it all devolves into being about nothing but power.”

Their work is now garnering national attention, having been reported in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle. To learn more, read the team’s Self, Motivation and Virtue research project description.

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November 16, 2018

Eleven Books for Tolerance and Understanding

Eleven books for tolerance and understanding

We are pleased to share the "11 Books" list from our friends at World Literature Today. The list was compiled by the University of Oklahoma's Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies, which is directed by professor Alan Levenson, Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History. We include here the introduction to the list.

"In the wake of the October 27 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the University of Oklahoma’s Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies sponsored a vigil on November 1 at the Hillel center on campus. In honor of the eleven victims of the massacre and those injured in the attack, the Schusterman Center has assembled the following list of eleven books to facilitate reflection, to promote tolerance, and to foster understanding. Each year, November 16 marks the International Day for Tolerance, based on the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, which UNESCO adopted and proclaimed in 1995."

View the 11 books list

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November 13, 2018

K20 Center Receives $68M in GEAR UP Funding

K20 Center Award Event

We offer our congratulations to the University of Oklahoma's K20 Center on their reception of more than $68 million in GEAR UP partnership awards, which will support students and schools across the state of Oklahoma. The K20 Center is led by Gregg Garn, dean of Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education and a founding member of our leadership team. Dean Garn is pictured above (left) at the award announcement event, with James Gallogly, OU president (center), and Scott Willson, K20 associate director of innovative technologies (right).

According to OU's media release, the K20 Center's GEAR UP programs (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) will serve "46 schools and more than 12,000 students across Oklahoma, many of which have been deeply affected by issues such as poverty and teacher shortages." The awards are sponsored by the United States Department of Education.

These awards are a major achievement and have tremendous potential for improving education across the state. 

Read the full media release

Photo provided by K20 Center. Used with permission.

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November 8, 2018

Call for Papers - III European Liberal Arts and Core Texts Education Conference

III European Liberal Arts and Core Texts Education Conference

Institute director, Nancy Snow, will present a keynote address at an international conference in Spain next year. We include here the call for papers. Abstracts are due May 1, 2019.

*  *  *

III European Liberal Arts and Core Texts Education Conference
Caring for Souls: Can Core Texts Educate Character?

University of Navarra (Pamplona, Spain)
17-19 October 2019

Keynote speakers

  • Rosalía Baena (University of Navarra)
  • David Carr (University of Edinburgh)
  • John F. Crosby (Fransiscan University of Steubenville)
  • Alkeline van Lenning (Tilburg University)
  • Concepción Naval (University of Navarra) [Pending confirmation]
  • Nancy Snow (University of Oklahoma)

Topic summary 

Recent debates on higher education are focusing on interdisciplinarity and problem-solving skills, but tend to forget the classic goals of a liberal education, namely, personal growth and the engagement with the fundamental questions of being human.

The reading of core texts – i.e. classic texts from philosophical, historical, literary, cultural, or scientific traditions involving ‘the best that has been written’ – eminently allows for a reflection on the great questions of human existence. They allow the student to develop certain intellectual dispositions or character traits whereby the student gains agency in navigating the different knowledge areas within the realm of the university and life outside it.

Can core text education provide for character education and, in this way, promote intellectual development and personal growth, resulting in students who are engaged with, and care for, the world? And, if so, how, and which virtues? Which virtues or vices are discussed in particular core texts? How does core text education promote community?

Call for papers

The conference invites proposals on any topic related to liberal arts and core texts education in the European context. However, in line with the focus of the conference we are especially keen to receive paper proposals that address the role of character education in universities and, particularly, those proposals that connect core texts to the formation of character, both in the core texts themselves and in core text education. 

Papers are required to be seminar style essays: approximately 5 pages double spaced. The usual presentation time allotted to each paper is 25 minutes (including Q&A). The language of the conference, including contributed papers, is English.

The deadline for paper proposals and / or panel proposals is Wednesday, 1 May 2019 (midnight). Proposals are submitted by sending the following information to

  • Your name, affiliation and e-mail address.
  • A title for the paper(s).
  • An abstract for the paper (max. 500 words).
  • For panel proposals only: a title for and description of the panel theme (max. 250 words).

You will be notified whether your proposal can be accommodated before 20 May 2019. For questions or further information about the conference, please contact or a member of the organizing committee.

Undergraduate students may send paper proposals. There will be special panels for them. Please, indicate clearly if you are an undergraduate student.

Selected contributed papers will be considered for publication in a volume on  "Character education in universities".

Deadline for submission of the paper (max. 8000 words): 10 January 2020, by email to

The Scientific Committee will evaluate proposals with the following criteria:

  • The topic of the paper is "Character education in universities".
  • The quality of the foundation of the theoretical framework and the methodology used.
  • Scope of the results. 
  • Quality of the discussion and conclusions.

Organizing committee

  • Kathleen Burk (ACTC)
  • Emma Cohen de Lara (Amsterdam University College)
  • Reyes Duro (University of Navarra)
  • Rebekah Howes ( University of Winchester)
  • Gesche Keding (Leuphana University)
  • Álvaro Sánchez-Ostiz (University of Navarra)
  • José M. Torralba (University of Navarra)

For further information about the conference, see:

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November 2, 2018

Norman High School to Introduce the Virtue Resource Library

Virtue Resource Library Opening

In spring 2018, Institute director Nancy Snow decided to establish a new Virtue Resource Library for Oklahoma teachers. The library would contain a wide range of both electronic and physical resources on topics related to virtue and education. Hard copy resources (books, articles, etc) would be housed in a dedicated space at Norman High School. However, the library would also contain an online component that would would be made available to educators across the state and even beyond Oklahoma. Our partner schools enthusiastically supported the idea.

The project began by establishing a team, led by Snow and Norman High School principal, Scott Beck, along with 10 teachers and librarians from our partner schools. The team was tasked with collecting and ordering resources for the library. Norman High School librarian Martha Pangburn provided leadership oversight. The library was developed in close concert with Ms. Kathryn Lewis, Director of Media Services and Instructional Technology for the Norman Public Schools district and President-elect of the American Association of School Libraries. 

On Dec. 10, 2018, from 5:00 - 7:00 PM, Norman High School will hold their winter Creativity and Learning Showcase in their Learning Commons. During that event, at 6:00pm, the Virtue Resource Library will be introduced to students parents and interested members of the general public.

We gratefully acknowledge support from the John Templeton Foundation and the Kirkpatrick Foundation, whose generous support to the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing made this project possible.

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October 24, 2018

Irving Middle School Teaches about Virtue and Empathy

Virtue books at Irving Middle School

In fall 2017 we partnered with Irving Middle School to begin supporting their efforts in promoting awareness and cultivation of the Institute's nine virtues.

Irving Middle schoolers recognize each other for showing empathySince that time, Principal Jonathan Atchley and his core team of teachers and staff have continued to develop a culture of virtue in the school.

In recent weeks, Ms. Wendy Trott, a librarian at Irving Middle School and member of the core team, has been promoting books on virtue for teachers and students as part of an effort to encourage reading.

Irving students are also learning about the importance of empathy and recognizing it in each other.

(PHOTO CREDITS: Photos provided by Mr. Jonathan Atchley. Used with permission.)

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October 16, 2018

Past Institute Fellow Publishes on Attachment to God and Death Anxiety

Research on Aging Journal Cover

Dr. Jong Hyun Jung recently published a research paper in the journal Research on Aging titled, "Attachment to God and death anxiety in later life: Does race matter?

Jung was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing from Sept. 2017 - May 2018. He is now assistant professor of sociology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His primary interests focus on religion and mental health. His work has been published in Social ForcesSociological Perspectives, and Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Article abstract: Research suggests that religion plays a critical role in individuals’ attitudes toward death in later life. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether a previously unexamined aspect of religion—secure attachment to God—is associated with death anxiety among U.S. older adults and whether this association varies across race. Using longitudinal data from a representative sample of adults aged 65 and older (N = 936), the analyses reveal that secure attachment to God is associated with a decrease in death anxiety over time. Furthermore, the negative association between secure attachment to God and change in death anxiety is greater for older Blacks than their White counterparts. These results indicate that religion serves a protective function against death anxiety in later life. Moreover, religion provides greater psychological benefits for older Blacks than older Whites, reinforcing a long-standing claim that religion is particularly valuable for individuals from marginalized backgrounds. Read the article

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October 9, 2018

Welcoming our Ninth Education Partner

Longfellow Middle School logo

We are pleased to announce our ninth education partner, Longfellow Middle School, in Norman, Oklahoma! Led by principal Stephanie Williams, the mission of Longfellow is to promote lifelong learning and student achievement.

We look forward to future collaboration!

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September 28, 2018

Request for Proposals Announcement

Seed Sower


“The Self, Virtue, and Public Life”

Nancy E. Snow and Darcia F. Narvaez


The University of Oklahoma, with a generous grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) on the topics of “The Self, Virtue, and Public Life.” The full RFP is available at:

Approximately ten research proposals at approximately $190,000 each will be funded through this initiative. This international grant competition has three primary aims:

  1. To support innovative research on the self, virtue, and public life. 
  2. To encourage methodological innovation in the study of the self, virtue, and public life.
  3. To encourage interdisciplinary teamwork, specifically between social sciences and humanities, though scientists from other areas, such as neuroscience and the health sciences, are also welcome to apply with collaborators from the humanities.

A subsidiary aim is to support scholars who are new to the investigation of these topics or have not received funding elsewhere. Research collaborations between younger and more established scholars are especially encouraged. The central research themes we seek to explore through this RFP can be framed at the level of the civic virtues of individuals, as well as at the level of institutions. For a list of possible research questions, please see the full RFP.

Deep Integration

Research into character and virtue is often conducted by scholars within a single disciplinary perspective – philosophers research by themselves, psychologists team up with each other, historians and anthropologists proceed from their own disciplinary perspectives. This disciplinary isolationism is not maximally productive of new knowledge about virtue. To ensure that research funded by this proposal closes the disciplinary gap, funded research teams must meet the requirement of “deep integration,” as explained in the full RFP.

Application Process

Awards are intended to support research from August 1, 2019, through May 31, 2021. Letters of intent are due no later than December 1, 2018 at 11:59 PM, and must be submitted via an online portal linked to the project website. Full proposals are by invitation only and are due no later than March 15, 2019, at 11:59 PM. Further information is available in the full RFP, on our project website, and by contacting us by e-mail.

Project Website:
Full Request for Proposals:
Contact Email:

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September 6, 2018

Dr. Scott Martin to Speak on Educating for Human Flourishing

Dr. Scott Martin to Speak on Educating for Human Flourishing

On Tuesday, September 18, 7:30pm at the Bricktown Hyatt Hotel, Dr. Scott Martin will discuss the role schools and communities should play in creating an ecology of care to nurture the mental, social, and emotional well-being of our children. 

Dr. Scott Martin is the founder and Executive Director of Odyssey Leadership Academy, one of the Institute's partner schools.

This event is sponsored by the Bricktown Association and is free to the public, though seats are limited. Coffee and desserts will be served. Register now on Eventbrite

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