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2020 Funding Cycle 1 | December 1, 2019 - May 1, 2020

Academic Cross-Training Fellowship

Request for Applications



The John Templeton Foundation invites applications for its Academic Cross-Training (ACT) Fellowship program beginning December 1, 2019, with fellowships to begin Fall 2021. The ACT Fellowship program is intended to equip recently tenured (after September 2009) philosophers and theologians with the skills and knowledge needed to study Big Questions that require substantive and high-level engagement with empirical science.

Each ACT Fellowship will provide up to $220,000 (US dollars) for up to 33 months of contiguous support for a systematic and sustained course of study in an empirical science such as physics, psychology, biology, genetics, cognitive science, neuroscience, or sociology. Acceptable courses of study might include a plan to audit undergraduate and graduate-level courses, a plan to spend time in residence at a research lab, or a plan to earn a degree in an empirical science. This iteration of the program will also permit applicants to request that up to one year of the ACT Fellowship be used to support a small-scale pilot scientific research project that improves or enhances the capacity, skill, and talent of the fellow to investigate the above-described Big Questions. Fellows may undertake their study at their home institution or another institution. All fellows must have a faculty mentor in their cross-training discipline.

Please note that due to IRS limitations on the Foundation’s grantmaking, the maximum term of the ACT Fellowship is now 33 months.


The application process has two stages: a Letter of Intent (LOI) and for the most promising applications, invitation to submit Full Proposal. The LOI must include the following:

  • Applicant information – contact details, name of academic institution conveying tenure, and CV (10 MB limit);
  • Request information – proposed project dates (project may not begin before the beginning of AY 2021-2022 or exceed 33 months in duration), cross-training discipline, and name of cross-training mentor;
  • 400-word Project Statement describing – a) what topics or questions you believe cross-training will help you investigate, (b) how these topics or questions fit with JTF’s donor intent, and (c) what the proposed course of cross-training might look like.

The LOI will be available as a web form from December 1, 2019-May 1, 2020.


LOIs for each applicant will be evaluated according to the following criteria listed in ascending order of importance: (i) the academic credentials of the proposed fellow, (ii) the publication record of the proposed fellow, (iii) the professional standing and professional accomplishment of the proposed fellow, (iv) the potential for the applicant to be an influential figure in their field in the future, (v) the appropriateness of the chosen means for the goal of cross-training, and (vi) the potential of the proposed fellow to undertake substantive, high-quality interdisciplinary research on Big Questions falling within the domain of JTF’s mission to fund “Science and the Big Questions” if the proposed fellow were awarded the fellowship. Applicants will not be evaluated based on the race, religion, or gender of the proposed fellow.


  • Ph.D. or equivalent degree from an accredited university.
  • Employment by an accredited U.S. or non-U.S. university or college. The employer agrees to sponsor the applicant, be the ultimate recipient of fellowship funds, administer the distribution of funds, and make reports to JTF on the use of the funds.
  • Received tenure after September 1, 2009, or reasonably anticipates receiving tenure by the beginning of AY 2021, as defined by applicant’s employing institution.
  • Primary faculty appointment within a philosophy, religious studies, religion, or theology department.

Note: Trustees and officers of the John Templeton Foundation and other “disqualified persons” as defined pursuant to Section 4946 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, are not eligible to apply for the ACT Fellowship program.


December 1, 2019 LOI submission window opens
May 1, 2020: LOI submission window closes
June 1, 2020: Full proposals invited
July 13, 2020: Full proposals due
Fall 2020: Awards announced
Fall 2021: Fellowships begin


Please email rfp@templeton.org.


Past Cohorts

NameInstitutionFellowship AmountCross-Training Discipline
2017 Cohort
Michael KirchhoffUniversity of Wollongong$43,100Cognitive neuroscience
Alyssa NeyUniversity of California, Davis$227,481Physics
Ryan NicholsCalifornia State University, Fullerton$217,390Psychology
Hong Yu WongUniversity of Tübingen$224,923Neuroscience
2018 Cohort
Nathan BallantyneFordham University$152,401Psychology
T. Ryan ByerlyThe University of Sheffield$207,405Psychology
Timothy PawlUniversity of St. Thomas$217,240Psychology
John SchwenklerFlorida State University$217,339Neuroscience and psychology
2019 Cohort
Lina JanssonUniversity of Nottingham$204,912Physics
Kutter CallawayFuller Theological Seminary$70,686Psychology
Adam GreenAzusa Pacific University$191,293Psychology