Saint Louis University Philosopher Awarded $5.1 Million Grant to Study Happiness and Well-Being

Jun 24, 2015, 18:00 ET from Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS, June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Daniel M. Haybron, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University, has received a $5.1 million grant to study happiness and well-being. The award consists of a $4.6 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, along with $453,000 in funding from the University. The three-year project begins July 1, 2015.

This is believed to be the largest grant ever awarded to a researcher in the College of Arts and Sciences at SLU.

Titled Happiness and Well-Being: Integrating Research Across the Disciplines, the project will promote dialogue and collaboration among well-being researchers across a wide range of disciplines, including the sciences, philosophy, and theology and religious studies. Advising Haybron on the project will be a board of 14 leading well-being researchers, including some of the best-known figures in the field such as Ed Diener and Martin Seligman. Senior advisers for the project include Diener (science), Valerie Tiberius (philosophy), and Ellen Charry (theology and religious studies).

"Well-being research has become a huge field in recent years, and is having a growing impact on policy and people's lives. But the sciences and humanities still tend to run on separate tracks, and could learn a great deal from each other," said Haybron. "This is a very exciting opportunity to gather some of our best minds to think about how scientific work on well-being can be enriched by deeper engagement with philosophical and religious thought. And just as important, how philosophical and religious thought can profit from conversation with the sciences."

One key innovation of the project is that all scientific studies funded by the project will include at least one philosopher, theologian or religious studies scholar. About $2.5 million dollars will be used to fund such studies, which will range up to $310,000 each. Another $800,000 will fund studies in philosophy and theology and religious studies. All told, between 12 and 20 such grants will be awarded through the project.

The project is open to a wide range of topics relating to happiness and well-being, with a major focus on the psychological aspects of well-being. Some other topics of special interest include cross-cultural studies of well-being; measures of well-being; and the relation between well-being and a worthwhile life.

Additional highlights of the project include:

  • Three conferences that will bring funded researchers together to share and discuss their work
  • A small summer development workshop for young well-being researchers aimed at building a cohort of interdisciplinary-minded scholars for the next generation of well-being research
  • Three workshops for St. Louis area well-being researchers, aimed at building relationships and dialogue in the local academic community
  • A three-year post-doctoral fellowship in philosophy at Saint Louis University
  • A capstone conference at the end of the project that will gather all project participants, along with other researchers

In 2013, a $3 million award to study intellectual humility went to two other professors in the philosophy department, Eleonore Stump and John Greco, also funded largely by a grant from the Templeton Foundation, with additional funding by SLU. In 2014, the philosophy department was ranked among the top 50 in the United States by the Philosophical Gourmet Report.

"The philosophy department here has really taken off in the last couple of decades, and I am extremely grateful for the support of the Templeton Foundation and Saint Louis University," said Haybron.

Advisory Board Members

Science Advisors

Ed Diener, Senior science advisor (Psychology, University of Utah and University of Virginia)
Paul Dolan (Behavioral Science, London School of Economics)
Robert Emmons (Psychology, University of California, Davis)
Carol Graham (Economics, Brookings Institutions and University of Maryland)
June Gruber (Psychology, University of Colorado)
Felicia Huppert (Psychology/Neuroscience, University of Cambridge)
Mariano Rojas (Economics, Flacso/UPAEP, Mexico)
Martin Seligman (Psychology, University of Pennsylvania)
Neil Thin (Anthropology, University of Edinburgh)

Philosophy Advisors

Valerie Tiberius, Senior philosophy advisor (Philosophy, University of Minnesota)
Julia Annas (Philosophy, University of Arizona)

Theology and Religious Studies advisors

Ellen Charry, Senior advisor for theology and religious studies (Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary)
Philip J. Ivanhoe (East Asian and Comparative Philosophy and Religion, City University of Hong Kong)
Robert C. Roberts (Philosophy, Baylor University)

About Daniel M. Haybron, Ph.D.

A professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University, Haybron received his Ph.D. in philosophy at Rutgers University. His research focuses on ethics and the philosophy of psychology, with an emphasis on well-being and its psychology. He has published numerous articles in these areas.

He is the author of The Pursuit of Unhappiness: The Elusive Psychology of Well-Being (Oxford University Press) and, most recently, Happiness: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press).

For more information, contact Dan Haybron at or visit the project website at Haybron's website is:

For media inquiries or to schedule interviews, call Jeanette Grider in University Communications at 314-977-2538.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain.

Building on a legacy of nearly 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.

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