Dr. Couenhoven serves as principal investigator of the grant, "Collaborative Inquiries in Christian Theological Anthropology," which began in August 2020 and will run for three years.
The grant will fund a team of more than 30 fellows, mentors and educational advisers at 12 partner institutions to collaborate on long-term research projects.
The topics Dr. Couenhoven and his co-investigators are exploring—human agency, human flourishing and moral development—share a natural overlap with the research interests of experts in social and cognitive psychology, biology, sociology and behavioral economics.
“We wanted to bring scientists, theologians and theological ethicists together in a way that crosses disciplinary boundaries,” he says. “So many fields are actually looking into the same topics, just from their particular points of view.”
Dr. Couenhoven recruited a very specific team of researchers from across the country and the world. Each one had to identify a science consultant who’s an expert on their specific area of interest and will serve as a conversation partner throughout the three years of the grant.
In addition to their independent research, they’ll also engage with social scientists through a mentoring program and a series of six summer and winter workshops.
“We’re trying to provide a rigorous model for theologians and theological ethicists to engage more empirical research,” Dr. Couenhoven says. “I’m really excited that we’re trying out a new approach to the way that this kind of interdisciplinary research is done.”