Research Partnerships


This 28-month project uses research focused on self-transcendence to advance understanding of the interrelations of virtue, happiness, and the meaning of life. We believe that self-transcendence is the missing link in current research, crucial to the spiritual dimension of human life.

Research in the humanities and social sciences suggest that individuals who feel they belong to something bigger and better than they are on their own—a family with a long history and the prospect of future generations, a spiritual practice, work on behalf of social justice—often feel happier and have better life outcomes than those who do not. Some scholars have labeled this sense of connection to a larger force “self-transcendence.”

By fostering intensive collaboration between philosophers, religious thinkers, and psychologists, we investigate whether self-transcendence helps to make ordinary cultivation and exercise of virtue a source of deep happiness and meaning in human life. Visit the project website >>

The project is funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. 



About the Program
A partnership between the Neubauer Collegium and the International Max Planck Research School for Moral Economies of Modern Societies facilitates collaborative research on moral economies – the ways in which values, emotions, and behavior reinforce or contradict each other – and how new moral economies that emerged during the 18th through 20th centuries inspired new social practices and forms of social organization.

The five-year partnership (2014-2019) creates new opportunities for faculty and advanced doctoral students from the Max Planck Institute to visit the University of Chicago for periods of sustained research collaboration with UChicago faculty.

The Moral Economies of Modern Societies program at the University of Chicago is overseen by an advisory committee that includes Michael Geyer (History), Andreas Glaeser (Sociology), Linda Zerilli (Political Science), and Orit Bashkin (NELC).

How to Apply
Max Planck students interested in visiting the University of Chicago should download the Application.  Email your completed application form to six months prior to the residency start date.

Faculty interested in visiting the University of Chicago should send inquiries to