The Varieties of Understanding project at Fordham University in New York is a three-year, $3.85 million initiative that aims to fund groundbreaking work in psychology, philosophy, theology, and religious studies:

As human beings we have a natural desire to understand the world and our place within it. In different ways, it is a desire that has fueled the development of science, philosophy, and theology across time.

But what exactly is understanding? What are the different forms it takes, and how do we acquire it?

When it comes to understanding another person, for example, it is necessary to have lived through similar experiences? Or is it enough to be able to predict—perhaps on the basis of well-confirmed theory—how that person will behave?

Or again, in what way do the sciences provide an understanding of the world, and how does that differ from the sort of understanding we acquire from literature, or philosophy, or the study of history? Are there types of understanding that these other pursuits provide that are somehow inaccessible to the sciences?

With the support of a 3.56 million dollar grant from the John Templeton Foundation, and with additional support from the Henry Luce Foundation, Fordham University, and the University of California-Berkeley, the Varieties of Understanding project will bring the combined efforts of some of the world’s leading psychologists, philosophers, and theologians to bear on these crucial questions.

Letters of intent are due November 1, 2013proposal forms can be found here. Invited proposals will be due on March 1, 2014 and full proposal decisions will be announced April 15, 2014. The grant period for theology and philosophy projects is July 1-August 1, 2014 to June 2015. Psychology grants begin July 1-August 1, 2014 and end June 2016.

For more information about the project, please click here.