The Enhancing Life Project

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with Ruhr-University Bochum / Germany, has launched a three-year project on “Enhancing Life,” supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. 

The Enhancing Life Project explores an essential aspiration of human beings that moves persons and communities into the future.  Given the profound expansion of human power through technology as well as advances in genetics, ecology, and other fields, the vulnerability and endangerment as well as the enhancement of life are dominant themes in the global age. The Enhancing Life Project aims to explore this rich but widely unexamined dimension of human aspiration and social life, and increase knowledge so that life might be enriched.

The Project supports 35 research projects. The Scholars of The Enhancing Life Project come from diverse academic backgrounds—Christian theology, religious studies (including Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian thought), anthropology, business, communications, history, law, media studies, medicine, philosophy, political science, social work, and sociology—and from different countries and cultural contexts, including Germany, Iraq, Israel, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the USA.  See our People page for more details.

The Project realizes the important objective of collaborative research by means of three required scholarly seminars which innovatively link two paradigms of scholarly work: 1) the seminars allow for in-depth exchange and collaboration by means of multiyear projects (along the lines of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University), and 2) the seminars foster the intellectual focus of a shared concern (similar to single theme conferences).

In order to set the context for thinking about enhancing life from multiple perspectives, three unique locations were chosen to host the seminars.    

Summer Residency Seminar 2015

The first seminar took place at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada from July 26–August 9, 2015. With the Canadian Rockies serving as a backdrop for questions of enhancing life via the natural world, the Enhancing Life Project Scholars worked on their individual research projects and launched many fruitful interdisciplinary collaborations. 

Summer Residency Seminar 2016

The second seminar recently took place at Liebenberg Castle near Berlin, Germany from July 24 – August 7, 2016. With Berlin serving as a backdrop for questions of enhancing life via history and politics, Scholars continued work on individual projects and collaborations, and laid the foundation for Enhancing Life Studies. 

Summer Residency Seminar 2017

The final seminar will be held from July 23–August 3, 2017. The seminar will take place at Lake Lawn Resort, in Delavan, Wisconsin.  In addition to working on individual projects, collaborations, and Enhancing Life Studies, scholars will prepare for our capstone conference in Chicago.  Chicago will serve as a backdrop for questions about enhancing life in social and economic realms. 

Capstone Conference 2017

The capstone conference is open to the public and will take place in downtown Chicago, IL at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, August 4-6, 2017.   More information on the capstone conference will be available on the Events page in the coming months. All are welcome! 

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