The research funded by the John Templeton Foundation seeks to answer some pretty big questions—those that involve “human existence, our place in the universe, our place in this world and our interpersonal relationships with each other.” Currently at the helm is Heather Templeton Dill, the granddaughter of the esteemed organization’s namesake.
In her four-year tenure as president, Dill and the foundation have awarded 340 grants totaling over $314 million. Funds also go toward the Templeton Prize.
A former history, government and economics teacher at her alma mater, Delaware County Christian School, Dill knows the power of education and research. “I thought that the best way to impact the lives of young people was to actually be on the front lines and teach them,” she says.
Today, she continues that passion for education through the foundation. “We’ve invested a great deal into intellectual humility—understanding what it is, testing interventions,” she says. “The long-term hope is that we can all better understand how to cultivate intellectual humility [to] help us get along better.”
Dill succeeded her father, the late Dr. Jack Templeton, who’d served as president since the foundation’s inception. “I had the opportunity to work closely with Dad and understand how he thought about things,” she says. “I understand his commitment to my grandfather’s vision for the foundation.”
The Templeton Foundation also focuses on cultural evolution—especially where paleontology and anthropology intersect. “It’s an area of work where we’re really asking, ‘Where did we come from? How did religion develop over human history?’” says Dill.
There is also interest in how virtues like gratitude and generosity came to be, and whether they can be found in archaeological records. Religion was particularly important to Dill’s late grandfather, and it remains part of the foundation’s new strategic priorities, which were launched this year.