Research Fellowships

RFP: The Meaning of Love (2015-2016)

Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought (“the Center”) will grant multiple semester- and year-long residential research fellowships: roughly half of these will be awarded as external fellowships (for scholars from institutions other than Biola University), and the other half as internal fellowships (for Biola University faculty). Fellowship recipients will comprise an interdisciplinary group of approximately eight researchers per semester focused on the theme The Meaning of Love.

Fellowship Description

This $410,000 RFP will focus on questions concerning the origins, nature, and implications of love. Questions to be addressed include:

  • What is love? (Nicholas Wolterstorff, for example, distinguishes three kinds of love: love as attraction, love as benevolence, and love as attachment. What is the relationship between these? Are there other kinds of love?)
  • Is there a distinctly Christian conception of love (for example, an agapic account of love)?
  • What are the ethical implications of Jesus’s love commands?
  • What should be made of the Christian notion of enemy love?
  • What can be learned from recent scientific work on love about intentional practices likely to conduce to a loving character?
  • What light do contemporary normative theories shed on the moral dimensions of love?
  • What are the prospects of a love-centered ethic and how might such an ethic shed light on talk of beneficence, obligation, rights, virtues, etc., in contemporary normative theory?
  • What are the connections between a love-centered and a care-centered ethic?

Proposal requests from non-Biola-affiliated scholars will be for up to $90,000 for projects lasting the full 2015-2016 academic year and up to $45,000 for projects lasting one semester that academic year. For those relocating to the Biola area, additional support is available for housing and relocation expenses. A post-doc fellowship may also be available pending qualified applicants and available funding. Proposal requests from Biola faculty will be for teaching-load reductions sufficient to reduce their teaching to approximately one half of their normal contracted teaching load. We anticipate hosting a total of eight fellows per semester (some of whom will stay for only a semester, others for the entire academic year), about half of which will be non-Biola scholars and the other half, Biola faculty. Fellows will be in residence at Biola University for either the fall term (August 28, 2015 to December 20, 2015) or the spring term (January 27, 2016 to May 24, 2016) or both.

The final team of fellows will comprise an interdisciplinary team of scholars from the sciences, humanities, and theology. Non-Biola fellows will have office space in the Center, a first-rate facility built around a large conference table and designed with collaboration in mind. All fellows will meet for weekly roundtable meetings to discuss and critique one another’s research. They will also participate in a year-end conference in which they present the results of their research, some of which will then be published in an edited volume. Each fellow will have the opportunity to collaborate with Center staff to communicate their research to both academic and non-academic audiences. There are no teaching or other requirements connected to the fellowships. During the course of the year, fellows will have the opportunity to interact with senior, visiting scholars at the Center’s roundtable meetings. This will be an opportunity for fellows to hear presentations on the RFP’s focal questions and receive feedback on their research. Visiting scholars will be in residence at the center for two-or three-day visits and will return to Biola in May for the end-of-year conference.

Visitors for the 2015-2016 year include:

  • Gerald Bray / Theology (Beeson Divinity School)
  • Bennett Helm / Philosophy, Moral Psychology (Franklin & Marshall College)
  • Thomas Oord / Philosophy, Theology (Northwest Nazarene University)
  • Stephen Post / Psychology (Stony Brook University Medical School)
  • Alan Tjeltveit / Psychology (Muhlenberg College)
  • Lynn Underwood / Public Health, Medicine, Arts, Spirituality (Research Integration)
  • Nicholas Wolterstorff / Philosophy (Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University; Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia; Honorary Professor of Australian Catholic University)

(More visitors to be announced soon.)

Application Instructions

Applicants are asked to submit the following by email to the Center’s Director, Gregg TenElshof, at Deadline: November 1, 2014.

  • Cover letter clearly stating applicant’s preferred semester(s) in residence (fall, spring, either, or both)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Name and contact information of three references familiar with applicant’s scholarly work
  • A research proposal that begins with a 150-word abstract summarizing applicant’s proposed research project. The body of the proposal (600 words maximum) should clearly state the connection of the research to the Center’s 2015-2016 theme, the significance of the research, the distinctive character of the argument advanced, and the methodology employed.
  • Visiting applicants should indicate the award (not to exceed $45K per semester) for which they are applying. Roughly half of an applicant’s salary at their home institution is a good rule of thumb.
  • Biola applicants must also include permission from their department chair and dean among their application materials.

Fellowship Eligibility and Benefits

To be eligible, applicants must hold a PhD or equivalent terminal degree, identify themselves as members of the Christian tradition, broadly construed, and be willing to relocate to Biola University for one or two semesters. Selection criteria include: fit of research proposal with focal theme and questions, coherence of the intended research plan, feasibility of the project in the specified timeframe, prior research accomplishments, and fit of research proposal with other fellowship applicants.

External Research Fellows will receive the above-mentioned stipends, office space, and access to the Center’s research assistants. A one-bedroom apartment near the Center will be provided for Fellows. If additional housing space is required, Center staff will work with Fellows to locate suitable housing. In that case, though, Fellows should budget for subsidizing the CCT housing allowance. Funds will also be available to offset relocation expenses. Internal research fellows will each receive a course reduction of their teaching load and access to the Center’s research assistants.


  • November 1, 2014 – Deadline for completed applications
  • March 1, 2015 – Awards announced (Winners will be announced on the Center’s website and by press release)
  • August 28, 2015– Program start date (Fall)
  • December 21, 2015 – Program end date (Fall)
  • January 27, 2016 – Program start date (Spring)
  • May 25, 2016 – Program end date (Spring)



About CCT Research Fellowships

Each year, the Center for Christian Thought awards a variable number of Research Fellowships, for scholarship on a selected theme. These Fellowships are awarded both to Visiting Research Fellows and Biola Research Fellows. Research Fellows meet weekly for roundtable seminars with the Center's leadership, to share ideas, present their research, and sharpen each other’s thinking around their research project. 

Research Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in private roundtable seminars with Visiting Scholars, all of them experts from their respective fields, on topics related to the theme. Research Fellows will also have the opportunity to share the fruit of their research with the public:

  • through the popularization efforts of the Center (see our Resources page and our blog, The Tablefor examples of these efforts),
  • during the Center’s Annual Conference (scheduled for the end of each academic year), and
  • through contribution to a published volume, edited by the Center, on the selected yearly theme.

Visiting Research Fellows

Awarded to scholars from other universities to relocate to Biola University and spend from a semester up to a year as scholars-in-residence at the Center. Awards range from $35,000–$45,000 per semester to $70,000–$90,000 per year, plus a $8,000 relocation and/or housing stipend per semester in residence.

Biola Research Fellows

Awarded to existing Biola University faculty, who will receive a course release to enable individual research and participation in the Center's activities.

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