On March 28, John Templeton Foundation president Heather Templeton Dill appeared as a guest on the Philadelphia Channel, a biweekly podcast that spotlights leaders of cultural, business, and non-profit organizations around the region. Host Robert Rimm, managing editor of Arch Street Press, interviewed Dill in a half-hour conversation that ranged across the breadth of the Foundation’s origins and mission, touching on her grandfather, legendary investor Sir John Templeton, the variety of programs supported by the organization, and the £1.1 million annual Templeton Prize, awarded this year to Brazilian physicist and author Marcelo Gleiser.
Previous guests on the program have included Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center and Glenn Bergman of Philabundance, along with guests from leading organizations from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Main Line Health.
In Dill’s interview, she looks back at the intellectual formation and early influences of Sir John Templeton growing up in rural Winchester, Tennessee. His mother helped instill in him a curiosity, optimism, and belief in progress that continue to define the Foundation’s mission. “Progress is not only possible, but actually it’s inevitable,” says Dill, “and all of us have a role in bringing about progress.”
Today, she says, the Foundation is pursuing progress in several areas. It is focusing a portion of its funding on 12 strategic priorities, one of which is an important virtue called intellectual humility. Intellectual humility, she explains, “is a mindset that allows people to listen with an open mind, to be willing to be take in other perspectives, and to accept that your own point of view may not be complete.”
This work builds on a legacy of past discoveries and breakthroughs funded by the Foundation. Dill cites critical work done in cosmology, astronomy, evolutionary synthesis, positive psychology, and altruism. “We support all kinds of research that we think push the boundaries of understanding across a range of disciplines,” she says.
The conversation turns at last to the Templeton Prize, established in 1972 by Sir John to honor a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension. Laureates have included religious leaders as well as philosophers and scientists, with recent winners such as Lord Jonathan Sacks (2016), Alvin Plantinga (2017), and King Abdullah II of Jordan (2018).
When asked what she would like to see at the Templeton Foundation over the next five years, Dill says, “We’re excited to focus on a set of 12 strategic priorities in our largest funding area, Science & The Big Questions.” Some of these priorities include religious cognition, the science of character virtue, the science of purpose, and cultural evolution. “One can never predict what course our discoveries will take, but our hope is that in five years we’ll have more people in the academy and the public discussing big questions and engaging in civil dialogue,” she says.
Listen to the entire podcast here: http://innovatepodcast.org/heather-templeton-dill-and-the-john-templeton-foundation/