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A Brief History of the Institute


In early 2013, a team of faculty at The University of Oklahoma (OU), in a conversation that has spanned across the University and included external partners, began developing the idea for an interdisciplinary center for the study and promotion of flourishing. The idea blossomed in 2014 when the team received a Planning Grant from the John Templeton Foundation and a seed grant from the Stephenson Family Foundation.

The purpose of the planning grant was to develop a detailed multi-year proposal for a project that would (1) define the place of the virtues in the mission of a comprehensive public university; (2) deploy sustainable and replicable programs which cultivate a specified set of virtues in students, including specific intellectual virtues, civic virtues, and executive virtues; and (3) develop a rigorous social-science platform to measure the impact of virtue education on behaviors and outcomes such as student performance, retention, and engagement. Led by OU Provost Dr. Kyle Harper, Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Linda Zagzebski, and Dean of University College, Dr. Nicole Campbell, the team held a series of biweekly lunch talks as well as large events bringing eminent guests like Dr. Justin Barrett, Dr. Jonathan Haidt, and Dr. William Damon to campus.

This planning phase culminated in a proposal to the John Templeton Foundation, requesting funding for the first three years of the new Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing. The team also launched a search for a Director to lead the Institute, and hired Dr. Nancy Snow, at that time, Professor of Philosophy at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dr. Snow arrived in Norman in July of 2015 and oversaw final revisions to the funding proposal. The John Templeton Foundation approved the proposal for $2.95 million, enabling the Institute to open its doors on September 1, 2015.