TITLE: Program Officer, Human Sciences
FUNDING AREAS: Anthropology, sociology, political science, and psychology, religion, spirituality
CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)
IP TAKE: Grantseekers likely to get Gibson's attention are religion-friendly, university-affiliated researchers in the social sciences with heretofore unexplored ideas about how scientific and religious study may find affinity with each other.
PROFILE: Nicholas J.S. Gibson is the John Templeton Foundation's program officer in charge of grantmaking for academic research in what the group terms the "human sciences": anthropology, sociology, political science, and psychology. Gibson funds work in the foundation's areas of focus and interest: "the psychology of religion, spirituality and health, and positive psychology, with a particular interest in research taking an information-processing approach in these fields."
In 2013, The University of Michigan received a grant of a more than $8 million in support of its Landmark Spirituality Health Survey, which is working to measure "how religion may affect physiological changes in the body." The second largest grant awarded that year went to Encore.org, formerly known as Civic Ventures. This $5 million, three-year grant was awarded in support of the organization's "Promoting Sir John Templeton’s Vision of Purpose in Retirement: From the Purpose Prize to Encore Careers" project. To give you a sense of their smaller grants, that same year the foundation gave $95,000 to Baylor University for their project, "College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose: What Role Does Student and Institutional Religious Identity Play?"
If you believe that you have indeed heard the calling, there are two ways to seek grants: Read up on how the foundation's funding cycle works and send Gibson an Online Funding Inquiry, or enter to win funding through one of the organization's competitions.
Gibson came to Templeton in 2011 from the faculty at the University of Cambridge, where he was a lecturer in social psychology. He earned both a bachelor's and master's degree at Oxford in psychology and physiology and a PhD in psychology of religion from Cambridge. His personal research mirrors precisely the type of things he funds through Templeton. In 2007 Gibson wrote a chapter in a book, God Image Handbook for Spiritual Counseling and Psychotherapy: Research, Theory, and Practice, on "how God is represented in mind." It discusses and reviews various methods of quantifying and measuring religious belief for the purpose of improving spiritually oriented therapy and counseling.
Judging by how closely Gibson's own scholarly research history fits into the foundation's agenda, it seems likely that Templeton tapped him on the shoulder to continue executing an agenda it has previously set.