Marquette receives $2.6 million grant to fund research on virtue

MILWAUKEE (WITI) --  Dr. Nancy E. Snow, professor of philosophy in Marquette University’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of a $2.6 million grant that will fund interdisciplinary research on virtue, character and the development of the moral self.

The three-year grant was awarded by the Templeton Religion Trust, which funds “discoveries relating to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.” Snow is leading the large-scale research initiative, “The Self, Motivation, and Virtue,” with Dr. Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame.

The initiative will also include the seeding of 10 new research projects, an interdisciplinary forum, interdisciplinary conferences with international scholars, a project website and several book projects.

“Many approaches to the study of character and virtue consider personality to be foundational to character and virtue,” Snow explained. “Our project hypothesizes that the self is the site of virtue. Key to this examination will be an important collaboration among scientists, humanists, theologians, psychologists and philosophers.”

According to Snow, the project will study how individuals develop virtue in their lives and how it is translated into practical efforts such as education. The researchers hope their work will ultimately impact important societal issues, such as bullying, and focus on how to counter them – a goal that Snow said aligns perfectly with Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit mission.

“We will also look at the development of virtue in the emerging person – what happens as we grow up and develop into people,” Snow added. “We want to take a deeper dive into whether the development of virtue involves memories, genetics, etc. In this way, we can develop a more comprehensive picture of how key periods in our lives – adolescence, retirement, physical decline, traumatic incidents – play a role.”

“Ultimately,” Snow said, “we want to generate an appreciation of what virtue is, the importance of motivation to virtue and how virtue can be cultivated.”

The project will officially begin on Sept. 1, 2014. The project’s first big event, the Interdisciplinary Moral Forum, will be held at Marquette in spring 2015 and will feature research presentations by international scholars.