Fellowships for 2016-2017

An Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology

With Support from the NASA Astrobiology Program & John Templeton Foundation

Call for Applications from the Humanities & Social Sciences

Societal understanding of life on earth has always developed in dialogue with scientific investigations of its origin and evolution. Today, the new science of astrobiology extends these investigations to include the possibility of life in the universe. As astrobiology develops and its discoveries become more widely known, scholars in the humanities and social sciences will have new opportunities to bring their explorations of humanity and society into dialogue with scientific study of the conditions that make life possible. This Inquiry offers one such opportunity. Searching for Life is for scholars who are open to this new angle of vision on perennial questions.

The Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) is an independent research institution with an interdisciplinary program. Each year the Center convenes a research team of resident scholars whose individual projects contribute to a larger inquiry on a global concern.

Applications for 2016-17 are invited from scholars in the humanities and social sciences as well as theology whose work will add to the core conversations with scientists during the Inquiry. Successful applicants will be awarded fellowships of up to $70,000 and provided with offices, subsidized housing, and library access to enable them to work full-time as members of the resident research team at the Center in Princeton, NJ, from September 2016 to May 2017, pursuing their research on the inquiry topic, participating in a weekly colloquium on work in progress, and a symposium series on astrobiology and its societal implications.

Interested scholars should read the further information carefully before making an online application on the Center’s website at www.ctinquiry.org.  Questions should be emailed to the Application Manager at apply@ctinquiry.org.


CTI gratefully acknowledges support for this Inquiry from NASA & John Templeton Foundation.

About the Inquiry

Societal understanding of the meaning, value, and future of life on earth has always developed in dialogue with scientific investigation of its origin and evolution. Today, the new science of astrobiology extends this search for understanding to include the possibility of other life, elsewhere in the universe. Discoveries in this field are destined to play a large part in politics, economic life, and human self-understanding. If there are many different forms of life, known and unknown to us, how would sociology and psychology describe life or literature and the arts imagine it against this background of other possibilities? How would philosophy relate these diverse forms of life to one another and establish the limits of what it means to be “alive”? How might the world’s religions respond to the discovery of life on other planets? What insight does the history of science offer on the impact of such discoveries? With all these questions about life in the universe, how do we organize ourselves to pursue the answers? How do we assess the risks and possibilities of those investigations? What societal changes can we expect from such findings?

The Center of Theological Inquiry invites applications from scholars in theology, humanities, the arts, religious studies, philosophy, and social sciences who are open to new ways of thinking on such questions in relation to their own work and who welcome the opportunity to participate in an intensive residential program on this topic in dialogue with current scientific investigations in astrobiology.

About the Center

CTI’s mission is to convene leading thinkers in an interdisciplinary research environment where theology makes an impact on global concerns, and to share those discoveries to change the way people think and act. Working in this way calls for conversational expertise in other disciplines as well as research expertise in one’s own field. Both are best developed when scholars have sufficient time, optimal space, and compelling reasons to collaborate. The Center offers all three elements – a year for thinking, next door to experts in relevant disciplines, focused on complex questions of common concern.

In this carefully designed environment for fresh thinking, the Center convenes an annual research team of resident scholars whose individual projects contribute to a larger inquiry on a common topic. By working daily at the Center in adjacent offices, sharing their work in progress in a weekly colloquium, and living in the Center’s housing, our scholars form a research community that is interdisciplinary in nature, dedicated to scholarship, generous in spirit, and open to new ideas. Our hope is that team members will not only be changed in their thinking but also change the way we all think on the questions under discussion for the year.

About the Program

Up to twelve scholars will receive appointments as resident Research Fellows in CTI’s Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology for the academic year from September 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017. 

Research Fellows are required to make CTI’s Luce Hall in Princeton their regular place of daily work for the duration of the academic year. They will have a study at Luce Hall for this purpose and access to nearby research libraries in Princeton.

Research Fellows will participate in a weekly colloquium to share work in progress with their colleagues in the research team. They will also take part in a symposium series at Luce Hall with visiting scientists, sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Program and designed to acquaint the CTI research team with current developments in astrobiology and help them to relate these scientific findings to their own research on its societal implications.

The residential community is an integral part of our research environment, and Research Fellows who do not ordinarily live in the Princeton area are required to live in CTI’s housing during their term of appointment. Resident scholars and accompanying families are provided with furnished townhouses at CTI’s Vella Handly Templeton Residences, located in a quiet residential neighborhood in Princeton, three miles from Luce Hall and near to shops, schools, and bus routes.

About the Fellowships

CTI invites applications from faculty members in theology, the humanities or social sciences at accredited academic institutions and from independent scholars with an established record of published scholarship. Applicants must hold the PhD or another advanced research degree by September 1, 2016.

CTI seeks applications from scholars with interdisciplinary interests and a commitment to intensive, critical engagement with colleagues who are pursuing similar research. Successful applicants will propose a major writing project, either a book manuscript or a series of peer-reviewed articles, that develops their scholarly contribution to their disciplines and has potential to benefit from and contribute to the broader discussion of the societal implications of astrobiology. Proposed projects should be at an appropriate stage of development to benefit from these opportunities for sustained research and interdisciplinary dialogue.

CTI welcomes international applicants who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. However, such applications can only be considered if the applicant is eligible for a J-1 visa during the requested period of the fellowship. It is the sole responsibility of such applicants to confirm their own eligibility prior to making an application. Please consult the official U.S. Department of State website for this information at: http://j1visa/state.gov.

Successful applicants will be awarded research fellowships of up to $70,000 for the academic year. Individual fellowship awards are determined by CTI and will vary according to the current salary and other circumstances of individual fellows. Applicants are encouraged to seek funding from other sources. They must take care, however, that any other awards they may accept do not conflict with the requirements of the CTI program. CTI does not make additional awards for expenses such as travel, health insurance, or research costs. Resident scholars pay a subsidized housing fee of $1,500 per month, plus utilities.

Funding for these fellowships for 2016-17 has been made possible by support from the NASA Astrobiology Program and the John Templeton Foundation.

About Applying

CTI has an online application process, accessed on its website at: www.ctinquiry.org/Apply. Applicants can save work in progress on the application form before final submission. On final submission applicants will receive an electronic confirmation of receipt.

A complete application includes a curriculum vitae (no more than 10 pages), a writing project proposal (2000 words, including a 150 word abstract), and a specific statement of how the applicant’s work will benefit from participation in the Inquiry and the residential research community at CTI (250 words). Each applicant must also supply three recommendations, to be submitted online by references who are familiar with the applicant’s scholarship and the proposed writing project. Only completed online applications from eligible scholars received by January 15, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST will be reviewed.

A selection committee of CTI’s Academic Advisory Panel will review applications for final interview. Highly qualified applicants will then be contacted for a personal interview with the Center’s Director. Applicants selected for interview may also be asked to provide additional information during the selection process. Selection for an interview is based on the applicant’s research project proposal, record of scholarly achievement, and recommendations. Final selections also consider experience and aptitude in interdisciplinary research, fit between the applicant’s research project and other proposals, and ability and willingness to meet the program’s requirements for participation and residence.

The Center’s Director makes the final offer of appointment. CTI will inform all applicants of the decision on their application by March 1, 2016. Successful applicants must accept the Director’s offer of a Fellowship by March 15, 2016.

Those who accept a Research Fellowship offer will be required, prior to the beginning of their appointment, to sign an agreement with the Center of Theological Inquiry accepting the terms and conditions of their Fellowship.

The CTI resident program is an exceptional opportunity for scholars wishing to work in a research team but it is not right for everyone. Scholars considering an application should bear in mind the following terms and conditions for awards:

• The Fellowship requires scholars to work at CTI and therefore is not for scholars who wish to work at home or other venues rather than in a study at Luce Hall.
• Membership of the Inquiry research team is a full-time commitment and therefore is for those who are prepared to meet the team’s daily work schedule.
• Staying in CTI Housing is a requirement for all non-Princeton-area scholars.
• CTI Housing has a strict No Pets policy and therefore the residential program is not for those with inseparable pet companions.

Please direct all questions about the Inquiry or application process to the Application Manager at: apply@ctinquiry.org