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Major Award for Twelve Young International Scholars

Press Release No. 89/2010
4 May 2010
Two Heidelberg dissertations among the winners of the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise

Two dissertations completed at Heidelberg University were among the research projects that received this year’s international John Templeton Award for Theological Promise. The award is endowed with $10,000 for each of the 12 young scholars from Europe, Asia and North America in recognition of the academic promise displayed in their doctoral dissertations or first post-dissertation book publications on the subject of “God and spirituality”. After the prize award ceremony a two-day colloquium was held at Heidelberg University’s Internationales Wissenschaftsforum (IWH), where the award winners presented their new research projects. 

The two Heidelberg dissertations which received this distinction had been conducted at the Faculty of Theology. Dr. Christian Polke investigated in her thesis the religious and ideological neutrality of the constitutional state in the modern age. Currently, she is a research associate at the University of Hamburg. The dissertation by Dr. Wai Hang Ng, now Assistant Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, focused on the anthropological persuasions of philosopher and sociologist Max Scheler, with special reference to his concept of love as a response to Nietzsche’s critique of Christian morality. The other award winners were Christopher Beeley (Notre Dame University), Dominic Doyle (Boston College), Brent Hege (Union Theological Seminary), Paul Dafydd Jones (Harvard University), John Kaufman (Oslo School of Theology), Chris Keith (University of Edinburgh), Christophe Nihan (Université de Lausanne), Benjamin Schließer (Fuller Theological Seminary), Jeffrey Stackert (Brandeis University) and Alexandra Wörn (University of Cambridge).

“The John Templeton Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of research, notably the dialogue between theology, religious studies and the natural sciences,” says Prof. Dr. Dr. Michael Welker, executive director of Heidelberg University’s Research Centre for International and Interdisciplinary Theology (FIIT). The American foundation awards the prize in conjunction with the FIIT. Applications for the award were submitted from 13 countries and a wide range of research fields and were evaluated by an awarding committee of 26 scholars from 19 countries. In the next two years the awardees will also receive $ 10,000 each to cover the travelling costs for guest lectures at universities all over the world.

The public prize award ceremony took place at 4.15 p.m. on Friday, 7 May 2010 in the Great Hall of the Old University (Grabengasse 1). For more information on the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, go to


Prof. Dr. Dr. Michael Welker
Research Centre for International and Interdisciplinary Theology
phone: +49 6221 543356

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