metanexusinstitute: history

Image: William Grassie, John Templeton, and Holmes Rolston at first Metanexus Institute symposium in 1999 at the University of Pennsylvania.

1997

William Grassie, an assistant professor in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University, launches the “Meta-List,” a moderated listserv on science and religion that begins with 600 subscribers and quickly grows to several thousand.

1998

William Grassie and four faculty members from the University of Pennsylvania—Andrew Newberg, Sol Katz, Peter Dodson, and Steven Dunning—incorporate as the Interfaith Center for Science. The board soon changes the name of the organization to the Philadelphia Center on Religion and Science (PCRS).

1999

PCRS hosts a special symposium at the University of Pennsylvania with Holmes Rolston III on the subject of his Gifford Lectures and newly released book Genes, Genesis, and God: Values and Their Origins in Natural and Human History.

2000

PCRS is renamed the Metanexus Institute, and the Meta-List relaunches as a dynamic website with the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, Metenexus then launches the $5.1 million Local Societies Initiative (which funds 200 groups worldwide) and hosts the “Genetics, Bioethics, and Evolution” conference at Haverford College

2001

Metanexus administers the $800,000 Templeton Research Lectures program (which awards grants for interdisciplinary studies and lecture series) and hosts the “Interpreting Evolution” conference at Haverford College.

2002

The organization receives a $3 million expansion grant from the John Templeton Foundation and hosts three conferences: “Interpretation Matters” at Haverford College, “Science and Ultimate Reality” in Princeton, New Jersey, and “Spiritual Transformation Research” at the University of Pennsylvania. Metanexus moves its offices to University City, Philadelphia.

2003

Metanexus launches the $3.3 million Spiritual Transformation Scientific Research Project and hosts two conferences: “Works of Love: The Science of Altruism” at Villanova University and “Spiritual Capital” at Harvard University.

2004

Metanexus launches the $3.75 Spiritual Capital Research Program and administers the $4.8 million renewal of the Templeton Research Lectures program. The organization also hosts the “Science and Religion in Context” international conference at the University of Pennsylvania

2005

Metanexus launches the $5.79 million Templeton Advanced Research Project and hosts the “Science and Religion: Global Perspectives” international conference at the University of Pennsylvania.

2006

A Metanexus delegation attends the International Conference on Science and Religion in Tehran, Iran, and the organization hosts three conferences of its own: “Continuity and Change” at the University of Pennsylvania, “Amazing Light: Visions for Discovery” (including the Young Researchers Competition) at the University of California, Berkeley, and “Spiritual Transformation” at the University of California, Berkeley

2007

Metanexus launches the $8.9 million Metanexus Global Network Initiative (MGNI) and hosts the “Transdisciplinarity and the Unity of Knowledge” international conference at the University of Pennsylvania. There are also organizational changes: Eric Weislogel is appointed the new executive director; the offices move to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; and William Grassie leaves Metanexus to spend a year abroad as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Buddhist Studies at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka (though he continues to serve on the Metanexus board).

2008

The organization hosts the “Subject, Self, and Soul” international conference in Madrid, Spain, and receives a Google Grant of $120,000 per year. Eric Weislogel resigns as executive director.

2009

Metanxus hosts the “Cosmos, Nature, and Culture” international conference at Arizona State University. William Grassie returns as Acting Executive Director.

2010

Metanexus launches a book series and publishes three books: Politics by Other Means, Advanced Methodologies, and Transhumanism and Its Critics. William Grassie also writes a book, The New Sciences of Religion, which is published by Palgrave Macmillan to critical acclaim. The organization hosts David Christian for lectures on “Big History” at the New York Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and Villanova University. Metanexus also receives a Salesforce Foundation grant of $15,000 per year and its offices move again, this time to Center City, Philadelphia

2011

The board of Metanexus adopts a new mission promoting scientifically rigorous and philosophically open-ended approaches to foundational questions. The organization closes its Philadelphia office and relocates to New York. It also creates a small offshoot organization at Chestnut Hill College. Metanexus publishes a new book, Indic Visions in an Age of Science by V.V. Raman, initiates a salon series in New York City, and launches a new website.

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