Grants: Theology of Free Will (2011-2012)

Grants offered through Florida State University supporting philosophical and theological inquiry into the importance and implications of free will in the theological domain.

Fellowship Announcement

The Big Questions in Free Will Program offers funds for inquiry into theological presuppositions and implications of belief in free will. Grants will support work along two general lines. The first includes projects that aim to elucidate the nature of divine freedom itself. The second includes projects addressing the interplay between human free will and divine attributes.

Florida State University, with the support of a generous grant from The John Templeton Foundation, is pleased to announce the “Big Questions in Free Will: The Theology of Free Will” program for 2010-2013. Florida State University invites scholars in the relevant fields to apply for funds for research into the theological presuppositions and/or implications of free will. Younger scholars are especially encouraged to apply.

This program will generally sponsor research projects of two sorts. The first sort includes projects that aim to elucidate the nature of divine freedom itself and the implications of freedom for various attributes of God (and the implications of divine attributes for the notion of freedom). Examples include:

  • Do certain traditional attributes of God constrain divine freedom, such as immutability or beneficence? In the case of beneficence, if there is a wholly good being, is that being bound to always choose the best? And if so, do such constraints undermine free will? If not, what does this say about the connection between free will and alternative possibilities?
  • Does God’s relationship to nature constrain divine freedom, particularly divine action in the material world? Are traditional ideas like kenosis or newer theological perspectives like Open Theism adequate to preserve divine freedom?

The second sort includes projects addressing the compatibility of human free will with divine capacities (and vice versa). Examples include:

  • Do certain divine attributes constrain human free will, such as providence (or omniscience)? Is there a conception of providence that does not undermine free will? If not, are ideas like kenosis or Open Theism adequate to the task of accounting for the reality of divine providence?
  • What do theological understandings of human nature that consider imago dei, sin, salvation, and sanctification contribute to the notion of free will?
  • Can free human actions impact divine freedom?
  • Research carried out under this project will typically be undertaken by scholars with specializations in philosophical theology, systematic theology, the history of philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and/or metaphysics.

Letters of Intent are due by October 1, 2010. Successful applicants at the LOI stage will be notified by November 15 and asked to submit full proposals no later than February 15, 2011. Final award decisions will be issued by March 31, 2011.

Fellowship Director: Alfred Mele, Florida State University

Fellowship Description

In the area of the theology of free will, the Big Questions in Free Will program provides one-year grant awards in amounts not to exceed $80,000. Average award amounts are anticipated to be $60,000. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider spending at least one semester of the research year as a fellow in residence at Florida State University. Successful applicants who wish to be in residence are eligible for residential stipend supplements of $6000 for one academic semester or $12,000 for one academic year. Stipend supplements will not count against the $80,000 award cap. Grant recipients will be expected to participate in – and help plan and organize – a conference on the theology of free will to be held in December, 2013.

All award recipients are expected to complete and disseminate the results of their research through publications, lectures, or presentations at academic conferences within a short time after the end of the fellowship program. Award recipients are also required to submit a report to the Director describing the effects of the funded research on the direction of their research within a year following the fellowship period, and to send the Director notice of presentations as well as copies of any papers and books resulting from research conducted during the award period.

Application Instructions

Award recipients are chosen from applicants in a worldwide open competition administered by Florida State University.

Letter of Intent (LOI) Stage

Applicants are required to submit:

  1. A complete curriculum vitae. (For team proposals, a CV is required for all major team members).
  2. A letter of intent, not to exceed 1000 words, that includes a description of the work to be carried out and a simplified budget with accompanying narrative.
  3. Three letters of recommendation (to be sent to us by their authors; see FAQ).

Application materials should be submitted by e-mail attachment, if possible, to The word “Theology” should appear at the top of all proposals and in the e-mail subject line. Acceptable file formats: Word and PDF only. Questions about the application process can be sent to the same address. All application materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received no later than October 1, 2010.

Full Proposal Stage

Applicants are required to submit:

  • A description of the work to be carried out, not to exceed 1500 words.
  • A budget with accompanying narrative, not to exceed one single-spaced page.
  • CVs and letters of recommendation submitted at the LOI stage will be saved.
  • Full proposals should be submitted by e-mail attachment, if possible, to The word “Theology” should appear at the top of all proposals and in the e-mail subject line. Acceptable file formats: Word and PDF only. Questions about full proposals can be sent to the same address. Full proposals must be received no later than February 15, 2011.

Grant Eligibility

Applicants must have a Ph.D. and be affiliated with an accredited college or university. Applicants should be able to demonstrate strong promise of or an established record of successful publication.


Date Event
October 1, 2010 Deadline for LOI submission
November 15, 2010 Invitations for full proposals issued
February 15, 2011 Deadline for invited full proposals
March 31, 2011 Award announcements issued
August 2012 Research concludes

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not answered below, please contact us at

What kinds of research projects may I work on?

The examples offered above provide guidance about this but are not meant to be exhaustive.

Given that the “Theology of Free Will” project is part of a three-pronged project that involves cutting edge scientific and philosophical work on free will, are “Theology of Free Will” proposals required to make contact with these other two fields?

While not absolutely required, clear points of contact with cutting edge scientific or philosophical work on free will (or both) would be a definite plus.

May I propose more than one research project?

No. Each applicant may propose only one project – including solo projects and team projects.

What is a typical use of the available grant money?

Normally, funds will be used to support sabbatical leaves or other research leaves.

How should letters of recommendation be submitted?

Authors of letters of recommendation should submit them by e-mail to or send a printed letter to BQFW, Attn.: Karen Foulke, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1500 USA.

By what date must applicants have a Ph.D. and an affiliation with an accredited college or university?

Applicants must have both by the time they submit a LOI.

In my LOI or my full proposal, should I request funds for travel to BQFW colloquia?

No. Should you be a grant winner, your reasonable travel expenses for attendance of BQFW colloquia (including accommodations and some meals), will be reimbursed by the BQFW project.