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2004 - 2006: University of Southern California

Creativity: An Inquiry into the Nature of Innovation in the Science, Art, Philosophy, and Religion


Upcoming Lectures and Activities

    • Year 1 Theme
    • Year 2 Theme
    • Year 3 Theme
    • Year 4 Theme
Project Leaders

Organizing Committee/Working Group
Additional Information



USC’s multi-disciplinary Organizing Committee proposes to develop a vigorous dialog and engender top-quality research on creativity and modes of inquiry in the physical and biological sciences, the humanities, philosophy, and religion. We plan to establish a forum for exploring the core similarities and the core differences in the ways of thinking about thinking in each of the various areas. Of fundamental importance is how, where, and why the modes of inquiry differ and to what extent the modes prevalent in certain discipline areas can be effectively used in others. Lecture series by our annual Templeton Fellows will be complemented by lectures and panel discussions involving members of the Interdisciplinary Committee. This will be a cumulative program designed to uncover new territory in a systematic manner with an urgency to apply the knowledge gained to the improvement of individuals as well as the improvement of creativity in institutions.

We have crafted a four year program designed to foster faculty interactions and to lead to the publication of at least 5 volumes - three single author works written by the Templeton Fellows on the basis of their USC lectures, two edited volumes presenting the interactions of the Interdisciplinary Committee, the guest lecturers, and all the faculty participants, and a concluding volume written by Michael Arbib of USC updating his 1983 Gifford Lectures with Mary Hesse in light of the themes that are developed in the course of this project.

Starting in the first year with a historical perspective on the different modes of inquiry and creativity used in the various areas, we move in the second year to an exploration of the constraints and privileges imposed by the human brain on our modes of thought, on our intuitions, on our inspirations, and on our revelations, through lectures on psycho-neurobiology. From here we progress to the interaction of minds, brains, technology, and the physical and social environment. The third year of lectures focuses on modes of inquiry and creativity at multiple scales of human aggregation from the individual, to small groups, to institutions. We feel an urgency to apply the knowledge gained to explore ways of organizing an institution, like a university, to enhance creativity through the judicious harnessing of the diverse modes of inquiry prevalent among its constituent discipline areas; this too will be considered in year three. The fourth and final year deals with a retrospective analysis of where we have been, the new territory explored, and lessons learned and unlearned. Here again we plan to apply these lessons and the benefit of our hindsight to the development of strategies for creating paradigm shifts in the four disciplines, given their present state of historical development. In the fourth year, an International Workshop is planned on the topic of this proposal that will serve to disseminate our findings in an international forum and encourage scientists, artists, philosophers, and theologians to engage on a worldwide basis.



Upcoming Lectures and Activities

Note: The University of Southern California was awarded its grant for the Templeton Research Lectures on April 1, 2004. Stay tuned for updates as the organizing committee prepares the program for the Templeton Research Lectures!

Research Themes
The organizing theme throughout the three years will be concerned with the various modes of inquiry and creativity in the sciences, arts, philosophy and religion. We will explore the possibility of achieving greater concordance in our collective theorizing and identifying the extent to which the modes that are prevalent in certain discipline areas can be effectively used in others.


Theme for Year 1: Understanding and Comparing Systems of Inquiry, Inspiration, and Revelation
  1. The historic evolution of the different modes of inquiry in the sciences, philosophy, religion and the arts. This will provide a historical perspective on why it is that we have such a gulf at present in these modes and why even the meanings of words are so widely different among the disciplines as to make cross-talk between them often unintelligible.
  2. The spiritual evolution of the human being and society, in general, that leads to the establishment of personal truths, and how they may differ from communally accepted truths in each of the disciplines; modes of inspiration and revelation.
  3. The certainty of the unknown, and possibly the random, which leads various disciplines to develop methods and standards for discovering, and defining ‘truth.’
  4. Intuitive and aesthetic modes of inquiry and how they may play a role in the physical and biological sciences.



Theme for Year 2: Psycho-neurobiological basis of inquiring systems; inspiration, revelation, intuition, and aesthetics

  1. The effect of various modes of inquiry on the extent and nature of creativity; paradigms for understanding creativity; how creativity is perceived, acknowledged, and instigated in various disciplines. The interaction of creative behavior with intuitive, aesthetic, and revelatory modes of inquiry.
  2. Interactions of mind, brains, technology, and physical/social environments; investigations into the psycho-neurobiological bases of inquiry and belief systems; the distinction between ‘truth’ and ‘value’ from the point of view of the accomplishment of tasks (along with their cost-benefit analyses) within the connected social community of humans.
  3. The effect and influence of validation, through community consensus, of the prevalent modes of inquiry, and the punitive measures taken in each discipline (area) for divergence from the accepted norms of inquiry; the cultural aspects of various modes of inquiry.
  4. The standards for what constitutes a ‘proof’ of a hypothesis in each of the disciplines; whether the Popperian principle, often used in science, is useful/useable in other areas like the arts and humanities.



Theme for Year 3: Modes of inquiry that foster creativity, internal peace, tolerance, and happiness at multiple scales of social connectivity.

  1. What modes of inquiry perhaps best foster creativity, internal peace, tolerance, happiness in individuals, institutions, and society; whether different modes may be called for at each level of human aggregation.
  2. How an institution, like a university, might be better organized to enhance creativity thorough a judicious harnessing of the diverse modes of inquiry prevalent among its constituent discipline areas.
  3. Engendering creativity in more general work and institutional settings; evaluating thelearning from the mind-sets of organizations known to have strong track records in creativity, such as the Santa Fe Institute?
  4. Considering the strengths and problem areas associated with our particular approach to the investigation of science, philosophy, arts, and religion?



Theme for Year 4: Strategies for Changing Paradigms for Inquiry and Creativity in the Sciences, Arts, Philosophy, and Religion.

  1. A retrospective look at the sciences-philosophy-arts-religion debate from the vantage point of all the knowledge gained in the previous three years.
  2. Development of strategies for change and renewal of inquiry in the various disciplines with special emphasis on their present state of historical development.
  3. The organization of an International Workshop on the subject of this proposal.


Project Leaders

Donald E. Miller (Co-Principal Investigator)
Donald Miller is the Executive Director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC as well as a professor of religion and sociology. He is a third generation native of Southern California and has been teaching courses in the sociology of religion at USC since 1975. He is the author/editor of seven books, including Armenia: Portraits of Survival and Hope (University of California Press, forthcoming in 2003), GenX Religion (Routledge, 2000), Reinventing American Protestantism (University of California Press, 1997), Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide (University of California Press, 1993), Homeless Families: The Struggle for Dignity (University of Illinois Press, 1993), Writing and Research in Religious Studies (Prentice Hall, 1992), and The Case for Liberal Christianity (Harper & Row, 1981). He has had major grants from the Lilly Endowment, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Haynes Foundation, the California Council for the Humanities, and Fieldstead Company. He is currently writing a book on global Pentecostalism, based on interviews and observations in twenty developing countries (to be published by the University of California Press).

Firdaus Udwadia (Co-Principal Investigator)
Firdaus Udwadia is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Southern California where he has served in this capacity since 1983. He also holds joint appointments at USC with the Marshall School of Business, and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Professor Udwadia’s research areas include: Applied Mechanics and Analytical Dynamics with particular emphasis on motion of constrained structure / mechanical systems, variational methods and optimal control and nonlinear dynamical systems and control; Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering with emphasis on the characteristics of strong ground motion; structural response and control; linear and nonlinear structural analysis and parametric and nonparametric structural identifiction. Computational Methods with emphasis on iterative methods for large-scale structural systems; optimization methods and dynamic programming and computation of lyapunov exponents for NL systems and Collaborative Engineering Design with emphasis on socio-technical framework for collaborative design; decision analysis and engineering management and conflict and crisis management. He is currently editor of the Journal of Aerospace Engineering, ASCE, and Associate Editor of the Journal of the Franklin Institute, Applied Mathematics and Computation, Mathematical Problems in Engineering, the Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, and Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Science.



Organizing Committee/Working Group

Click on the name of a committee member for biographical information.



Additional Information

Web Site:
University of Southern California-Templeton Research Lectures:



Donald E. Miller, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Center for Religion and Civic Culture
THH 328K, MC 0355
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0751

Work: 213-740-0278
Fax: 626-794-7892

Firdaus E. Udwadia, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Mathematics, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Olin Hall 430K
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1453

Work: 213-740-0495
Fax: 213-740-8071



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