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Anna Bonta Moreland, PhD, Named Co-PI on $223,201 Templeton Foundation Grant, “Hope in Higher Education”

Anna Moreland

Villanova, Pa—Many college students today struggle with the role of technology in their lives and the pressures of social media while preparing for meaningful work and developing the habits of moral responsibility and self-mastery. They also wrestle with questions of human meaning and purpose in a social environment in which religion plays a decreasing role for their generational cohort. 

Initiatives to address these needs have emerged at different higher education institutions across the country over the last 10-20 years, and now there will be an opportunity to bring them together.  Anna Bonta Moreland, PhD, associate professor of Theology and the Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Director of the Villanova University Honors program, has been named a co-principal investigator on a three-year, $223,201 grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The project, “Hope in Higher Education: Networking, Resource Sharing, and Building a Brighter Future,” is designed to help build a national coalition that will emphasize meaningful inquiry in college education and help students develop into thoughtful future leaders.   

“Hope in Higher Education” will bring together college and university leaders from around the country to share best practices, develop networks, collaborate on common projects, and inaugurate a mentoring program to ensure that the coalition will have a sustainable impact on college students nationwide.  

“Higher education should inspire undergraduates to think deeply about the universe and their place in it,” Dr. Moreland says. “We look forward to creating a vibrant coalition among the leaders of these new initiatives for the next several decades and to driving institutional change in higher education.” 

Dr. Moreland’s co-principal investigator on the project is Thomas W. Smith, PhD, Professor and Dean of Arts and Sciences, Catholic University of America. The grant will fund three weeklong summer workshops that will bring together college and university leaders to strategize and lay the foundation for a new national coalition designed to strengthen the field of higher education. The first workshop will take place at Villanova University in the summer of 2022 and will include leaders from Yale University, Lumen Christi Institute, the University of Notre Dame, Boston College, Baylor University, the Collegium Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, and others.  

Dr. Moreland was instrumental in the creation of the “Shaping a Life” initiative as part of Villanova’s Honors Program and designed its capstone “Shaping an Adult Life” course. She received her doctorate from Boston College. 

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:  Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.