William Whitney, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences at Azusa Pacific University, received a $219,915 grant from the John Templeton Foundation's Academic Cross-Training (ACT) Fellowship. Funding will support Whitney as he undertakes a three-year research project entitled, “Understanding the Virtues of Purpose, Patience, and Hope in the Midst of Suffering or Significant Stress.” His study will focus on how certain virtues hold potential to uniquely contribute to human flourishing.
To explore this topic, Whitney and his team will interview and survey people undergoing times of hardship, such as patients waiting to receive a formal cancer diagnosis. His findings will join the body of research on the benefits of hope, patience, and purpose, deepening the understanding of these virtues in times of suffering and enriching his work as a professor and licensed therapist.
“We all have difficulties in our lives—this topic holds meaning for everyone,” said Whitney. “This research will investigate mindsets and virtues that can ground us in things that matter during adversity, helping us cope more effectively.”
In a quest to address life’s “big questions,” the Templeton ACT fellowship specifically seeks out professionals with degrees in theology or philosophy and equips them to engage with empirical science. With a Ph.D. in systematic theology, Whitney brings his expertise to the realm of psychology. At the end of the three-year grant, Whitney will have completed coursework for a second Ph.D. in developmental psychology.
“Christianity's unique insights on purpose, patience, and eternal hope contribute valuable perspectives to current research," said Whitney. “They are virtues that can lead to perseverance in the present.”
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