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Episode Summary

The Life Worth Living Network offers fellowships to encourage undergraduate education on enduring questions about the shape of flourishing life. We connect faculty and graduate students who seek to design and facilitate courses that equip students for the lifelong process of discerning the good life. Together, we envision an educational landscape in which students and faculty learn alongside each other how to ask and respond to life’s biggest questions.

We're delighted to introduce and highlight our 2023 Faculty Course Development Fellowship recipients.

To learn more and apply for our 2024 cohort, click here.

The Life Worth Living Network is administered through the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Faculty Fellows

Lachezar Afrikanov

New Bulgarian University

I teach future and current teachers and educational leaders how to embrace transformation in education and feel comfortable in their changing roles. I am based in Bulgaria, a country where different cultures and religions have been interacting for centuries. In all the diversity that lives in our society, I try to catch some fundamental principles for good living and transfer them into my classroom, hoping my students will transfer then in their classrooms.

Alexis Artaud de La Ferrière

Royal Holloway, University of London

My research interests revolve around the relationship between religion, politics, and society. Most of my work focuses on the sociology and contemporary history of Roman Catholicism, including dynamics of change within the Catholic Church, Catholic missiology, Catholic responses to international migration, post-colonial expressions of Catholicism, and the exchange of ideas between the Catholic Church and secular civil society and state institutions. I am also interested in Church-State relations, laïcité, freedom of religion and belief, and secularisation theory.

Norani Abu Bakar

UCSI University

Norani Abu Bakar is the chairperson of Regional Center of Expertise Greater Kuala Lumpur. The centre is hosted by UCSI University and was established under the United Nation University’s acknowledgement. She used to work at UCSI as the Executive Director of UN Sustainable Development Goals Office. Norani is completing her PhD at University of Malaya (UM), Malaysia. Her research focuses on refugee youth education and well-being. Norani is also an associate at the Center for Civilization Dialogue at UM.

Carol Bakhos

University of California Los Angeles

Carol Bakhos is Professor of the Study of Religion and of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 2012 she has served as Director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion and Chair of the undergraduate interdisciplinary program in the Study of Religion. Author of several monographs and edited volumes, she works at the intersection of religion, culture, literature and history.

Nathan Barczi

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Nathan Barczi and his wife Leann are both natives of the California Bay Area, and have lived in Boston since 2002 when they came for grad school. He holds a doctorate in economics from MIT, and a doctorate in theology from the University of Nottingham. Nathan serves as associate pastor at Christ the King Church in Newton, Mass., and as an MIT Chaplain with the Octet Collaborative, a Christian study center serving MIT. He and Leann live with their three children in Somerville, Mass.

Catherine Cooper

Royal Holloway, University of London

Kate is a historian of the ancient world working on religion, gender, and the household in the Roman period. Her current teaching and research interest is in historical storytelling, both in the ancient world (as a technique of religious mission) and in modern retellings (media such as historical fiction and film). Kate is author of a number of books on early Christianity, including most recently Queens of a Fallen World: The Forgotten Women of Augustine's Confessions (Basic Books).

Don Davis

Georgia State University

Don (Donnie) Davis Jr., PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Georgia State University. Donnie did undergraduate work at Yale and his doctorate at Virginia Commonwealth University. He completed his psychology pre-doctoral internship at Clemson University and is currently licensed in the state of Georgia. A member of the Matheny Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma, and Resilience, Donnie has worked on over 30 grants, many with the John Templeton Foundation. His research and clinical interests are in the area of positive psychology. His work focuses on humility and related virtues such as forgiveness and gratitude. He also does work on the role of religion/spirituality in character development. He has published over 275 articles or chapters. He has also written books on several of these themes. He is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology.

Kevin Gary

Valparaiso University

Kevin Gary is a professor at Valparaiso University, where he teaches theology, education, and in the Christ College Honors Program. Dr. Gary’s research is primarily in philosophy of education. He recently authored, Why Boredom Matters: Education, Leisure, and the Quest for a Meaningful Life (Cambridge University, 2022).

Bryndís Jóna Jónsdóttir

University of Iceland

Bryndís Jóna is a doctoral student at the School of Education, University of Iceland (UI). Her teaching experiences and research interests are in the field of well-being in schools, mindfulness, compassion, social and emotional skills, resilience, and health promotion. She has over 25 years of experience in teaching, school management and school development at different school levels.

Ólafur Páll Jónsson

University of Iceland

I was born in Iceland and completed a BA at the University of Iceland before going to Calgary in Canada where I completed an MA degree in philosophy in 1997. From Canada I went to MIT where I completed a Ph.D. degree in 2001. I returned to Iceland and after being an adjunct in the philosophy department at the University of Iceland I joined the Iceland University of Education in 2005. Since 2008 I have been professor at the School of Education, University of Iceland, with main focus on democracy and education, inclusive education, moral education and philosophy of nature.

Ingibjörg Kaldalóns

University of Iceland

Prof. Kaldalóns completed a Ph.D. degree in Education 2015 from the School of Education, University of Iceland and joined the Department of Education and Diversity in 2016. Her main area of teaching and research is in the field of psychology of education; such as social and emotional learning, teacher’s and students’ resilience and well-being, motivation and inner growth.

Michael Morris

University of South Florida

Michael Morris is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Florida and the author of Knowledge and Ideology (Cambridge University Press). His research focuses on Hegel, Marx, the French Revolution, liberalism, social epistemology, human dignity, the Conservative Revolution, and contemporary German social theory. He is currently working on a book entitled Dignity after Liberalism.

Jesse Peterson

George Fox University

Jesse Peterson is an Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies in the School of Theology and Honors Program at George Fox University. Dr. Peterson's academic research brings biblical texts and traditions into dialogue with philosophy, both ancient and modern. His work on the book of Ecclesiastes/Qoheleth has been published in Harvard Theological Review, Vetus Testamentum, and the Journal of Theological Studies. A full monograph on the topic is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

Rosalind Picard

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rosalind Picard, Sc.D., is a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author, professor and engineer. She is best-known for her book, Affective Computing, which proposed and described how to give skills of emotional intelligence to computers—including voice assistants, robots, agents, and many kinds of interactive technologies. Picard is a named inventor on over a hundred patents, with impact that earned her recognition as both a member of the National Academy of Engineering and as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Picard is founder and director of the MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing Research Group, where she teaches and mentors students in research.

Ellen Posman

Baldwin Wallace University

Dr. Ellen Posman is Chair and Professor of Religion at Baldwin Wallace University where she teaches comparative religions with specializations in Buddhism and Judaism while also directing a Center dedicated to interfaith and social justice work in the Greater Cleveland area. Her research and teaching involve comparative work on religion and migration, gender, violence and peacemaking, the environment, death and the afterlife, religious diversity in the United States, religion in film, and religious foodways.

Kathryn Reklis

Fordham University

Dr. Kathryn Reklis is Associate Professor of Modern Protestant Theology and Co-Director of the Comparative Literature program at Fordham University. She is the author of Theology and the Kinesthetic Imagination: Jonathan Edwards and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Editor, together with Sarah Covington, of Protestant Art and Aesthetics (Routledge, 2020), along with many essays on the intersections of religion, modernity, and aesthetics. She writes a monthly Screentime column for The Christian Century.

Richard Rose

University of La Verne

Richard Rose is Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of La Verne. His current research examines global issues related to Interfaith dialogue and Religious Pluralism. He is author of An Interreligious Approach to a Social Ethic for Christian Audiences (2017) and 7 Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer (2016). He serves as a Board Member of several non-profit organizations.

Kevin Schilbrack

Appalachian State University

Kevin Schilbrack (Ph.D., The University of Chicago Divinity School) is Professor of Religious Studies at Appalachian State University ( The author of Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto (Blackwell 2014) and the contributing editor of Thinking through Myths (Routledge 2002) and Thinking through Rituals (Routledge 2004), he is presently writing on the relevance of embodied cognition and social ontology for understanding what religion is and how it works.

Thiru Subramaniam

Universiti Malaya

Thirunaukarasu Subramaniam obtained his PhD in Development Economics from Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2007. He obtained his Masters of Commerce (Economics) from University of Wolonggong, New South Wales, Australia in 1997. Currently, he is working as Associate Professor at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

Stephanie Mota Thurston

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Stephanie Mota Thurston is an Assistant Professor in Religion Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Thurston’s research and teaching interests include religion and politics, philosophical and theological social ethics, political theory and political theology. Thurston has taught and written on complicity and moral responsibility and is especially interested in moral and political questions concerning school segregation, policing and prisons, and migration.

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