Studies

Lilly Foundation Research Projects

Study #1: A Study of Leadership and Character Development in the College

TEAM

  • PI: Michael Lamb (Wake Forest University)

    Michael Lamb is the Executive Director of the Program for Leadership and Character and Assistant Professor of Politics, Ethics, and Interdisciplinary Humanities. He is also a Research Fellow for the Oxford Character Project. He earned a B.A. in political science from Rhodes College, a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University, and a second B.A. in philosophy and theology from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. His interdisciplinary research focuses on moral education, the ethics of citizenship, and the role of virtues in public life. He is the co-editor of Everyday Ethics: Moral Theology and the Practices of Ordinary Life, and his work has been published in a number of edited volumes and academic journals, including the American Political Science ReviewReview of PoliticsAugustinian Studies, and Journal of Religious Ethics. A political theorist with experience in practical politics, he has advised colleges on character education and civic engagement, co-founded a non-profit that supports sustainable development in Uganda, and served as chief of staff for campaigns for state senate, Governor, and U.S. Congress in his home state of Tennessee. Prior to joining Wake Forest, he helped to launch the Oxford Character Project and served as Dean of Leadership, Service, and Character Development for Rhodes Scholars. A recipient of teaching awards from Princeton and Oxford, he teaches “How to Keep a Republic” and “Commencing Character: How Should We Live?” and directs programs to develop leaders of character at Wake Forest.

  • Co-PI: Heather Maranges (Wake Forest University)

    Heather M. Maranges is the Senior Research Scholar at the Program for Leadership and Character, leading the program’s empirical assessment of programming, courses, and interventions to understand how to facilitate the formation of virtuous character. Heather received her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology at Florida State University, and the Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowship for work at the Social Justice Centre and Departments of Psychology and Philosophy at Concordia University. Early on in her in university years, her coursework incorporated considerable study not only in psychology, but also in philosophy, English literature, and biology. Today, her research seeks to understand what facilitates cooperation and virtue, inspired by both Aristotelian virtue ethics and behavioral ecology frameworks. In particular, she studies how both self-control and childhood environments/experiences shape moral character and decision making.

  • Co-PI: Kate Allman (Wake Forest University)

    Dr. Kate Allman is a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in English from Emory University, her M.Ed. in English Education from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on fostering holistic connections between student learning, evaluation, programmatic planning, and organizational thriving in Institutions of Higher Education. She has specialized expertise in holistic program evaluation, grant management, and institutional accreditation. Prior to coming to Wake, she served as a faculty member and administrator at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Towson University, where she led numerous formative, outcome, and impact evaluation projects using a collaborative, participatory approach. At Duke University, she was awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that supported the development of teacher leaders in STEM Education. As a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character, Kate coordinates and supports research activities and internal evaluation.

  • Co-PI: Sara Mendonça (Wake Forest University)

    Sara Etz Mendonça is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Program for Leadership and Character and in the Department of Psychology. She earned a B.A. in Romance languages and literature from the University of Chicago, an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Her research focuses on the development of character and virtues in youth and the creation of effective character interventions.  Her work has been published in edited volumes such as Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents and peer-reviewed academic journals including Current Psychology and Cross-Cultural Research. She has also presented her findings at multiple national and international conferences including the Society for Research in Child Development and the Association for Moral Education. Beyond her scholarly work, she is a dedicated educator who has won teaching awards from multiple middle and high schools from Illinois to Mexico to Sweden, and, most recently, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While working in high schools, she founded programs for immigrant parents and their children to inform them about the college admissions process so that the students could continue their education by attending university. A firm believer in the connection between mind and body, she has both founded and coached various track and soccer teams in the educational institutions where she has worked.

The purpose of this study is to understand whether a comprehensive program for leadership and character development, including multiple courses which integrate leadership and character into their curriculum and additional co-curricular activities, has a positive impact on the leadership and character development of students at Wake Forest University. Since most research on character development has focused on children and adolescents, this study contributes to the limited scholarly study of character development among young adults in the college context. The interventions focus on developing 12 target virtues of character (purpose, justice, honesty, empathy, kindness, gratitude, humility, temperance, courage, perseverance, hope, practical wisdom) and employs seven, research-based strategies for character development (habituation through practice, reflection on personal experience, engagement with virtuous exemplars, dialogue that increases virtue literacy, awareness of situational variables, moral reminders, and friendships of support and accountability).


Study #2: A Study of Character and Professional Identity in Law Students

TEAM

  • PI: Michael Lamb (Wake Forest University)

    Michael Lamb is the Executive Director of the Program for Leadership and Character and Assistant Professor of Politics, Ethics, and Interdisciplinary Humanities. He is also a Research Fellow for the Oxford Character Project. He earned a B.A. in political science from Rhodes College, a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University, and a second B.A. in philosophy and theology from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. His interdisciplinary research focuses on moral education, the ethics of citizenship, and the role of virtues in public life. He is the co-editor of Everyday Ethics: Moral Theology and the Practices of Ordinary Life, and his work has been published in a number of edited volumes and academic journals, including the American Political Science ReviewReview of PoliticsAugustinian Studies, and Journal of Religious Ethics. A political theorist with experience in practical politics, he has advised colleges on character education and civic engagement, co-founded a non-profit that supports sustainable development in Uganda, and served as chief of staff for campaigns for state senate, Governor, and U.S. Congress in his home state of Tennessee. Prior to joining Wake Forest, he helped to launch the Oxford Character Project and served as Dean of Leadership, Service, and Character Development for Rhodes Scholars. A recipient of teaching awards from Princeton and Oxford, he teaches “How to Keep a Republic” and “Commencing Character: How Should We Live?” and directs programs to develop leaders of character at Wake Forest.

  • Co-PI: Kenneth Townsend (Wake Forest University)

    Kenneth Townsend is the Director of Leadership and Character for the Professional Schools and Scholar-in-Residence at the Wake Forest School of Law. A recipient of the Truman Scholarship for Public Service and the Rhodes Scholarship, he earned a B.A. from Millsaps College, an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford, and a J.D. and M.A.R. from Yale University. Prior to joining Wake Forest, he worked at Millsaps College as Special Assistant to the President, Assistant Professor of Political Science, and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Professional and Civic Engagement and, before Millsaps, as a Fellow in the University of Mississippi’s Barksdale Honors College and Lott Leadership Institute. A licensed attorney and frequent commentator on public affairs, he has taught courses in ethics, political theory, public policy, and constitutional law at Millsaps College, University of Mississippi, and Yale University. He teaches “Professional Responsibility” and “Leadership and Character in the Professions” at the Wake Forest School of Law. His research focuses on the relationship between law and morality, the role of religion in a democracy, and the ethical obligations of professionals.

  • Co-PI: Kate Allman (Wake Forest University)

    Dr. Kate Allman is a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in English from Emory University, her M.Ed. in English Education from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on fostering holistic connections between student learning, evaluation, programmatic planning, and organizational thriving in Institutions of Higher Education. She has specialized expertise in holistic program evaluation, grant management, and institutional accreditation. Prior to coming to Wake, she served as a faculty member and administrator at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Towson University, where she led numerous formative, outcome, and impact evaluation projects using a collaborative, participatory approach. At Duke University, she was awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that supported the development of teacher leaders in STEM Education. As a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character, Kate coordinates and supports research activities and internal evaluation.

  • Co-PI: Heather Maranges (Wake Forest University)

    Heather M. Maranges is the Senior Research Scholar at the Program for Leadership and Character, leading the program’s empirical assessment of programming, courses, and interventions to understand how to facilitate the formation of virtuous character. Heather received her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology at Florida State University, and the Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowship for work at the Social Justice Centre and Departments of Psychology and Philosophy at Concordia University. Early on in her in university years, her coursework incorporated considerable study not only in psychology, but also in philosophy, English literature, and biology. Today, her research seeks to understand what facilitates cooperation and virtue, inspired by both Aristotelian virtue ethics and behavioral ecology frameworks. In particular, she studies how both self-control and childhood environments/experiences shape moral character and decision making.

  • Co-PI: Sara Mendonça (Wake Forest University)

    Sara Etz Mendonça is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Program for Leadership and Character and in the Department of Psychology. She earned a B.A. in Romance languages and literature from the University of Chicago, an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Her research focuses on the development of character and virtues in youth and the creation of effective character interventions.  Her work has been published in edited volumes such as Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents and peer-reviewed academic journals including Current Psychology and Cross-Cultural Research. She has also presented her findings at multiple national and international conferences including the Society for Research in Child Development and the Association for Moral Education. Beyond her scholarly work, she is a dedicated educator who has won teaching awards from multiple middle and high schools from Illinois to Mexico to Sweden, and, most recently, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While working in high schools, she founded programs for immigrant parents and their children to inform them about the college admissions process so that the students could continue their education by attending university. A firm believer in the connection between mind and body, she has both founded and coached various track and soccer teams in the educational institutions where she has worked.

The purpose of this study is to understand whether course-based and co-curricular interventions focused explicitly on character can have a positive impact on the character, leadership, and professional identities of law students. Interventions include courses and programming that draw on research-based methods to promote and strengthen character virtues in law students.


Study #3: Impact of Environmental Justice Role Models

TEAM

  • PI: Elizabeth Whiting Pierce (Wake Forest University)

    Elizabeth Whiting Pierce is Assistant Director for Leadership and Character in the Professional Schools. She earned a B.S. from Trevecca Nazarene University, an M.Div. from Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. in Religion from Emory University, concentrating in Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. Before joining the Leadership and Character Program at Wake Forest University, Dr. Pierce directed the Center for Ethics and taught philosophy courses at Mars Hill University. Those courses include “Democratic Legitimacy,” “Environmental Ethics,” and “Business Ethics.” A primary goal of her research and teaching is equipping leaders to constructively engage conflicts arising in their professional settings and in society at large.

  • Co-PI: Kate Allman (Wake Forest University)

    Dr. Kate Allman is a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in English from Emory University, her M.Ed. in English Education from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on fostering holistic connections between student learning, evaluation, programmatic planning, and organizational thriving in Institutions of Higher Education. She has specialized expertise in holistic program evaluation, grant management, and institutional accreditation. Prior to coming to Wake, she served as a faculty member and administrator at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Towson University, where she led numerous formative, outcome, and impact evaluation projects using a collaborative, participatory approach. At Duke University, she was awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that supported the development of teacher leaders in STEM Education. As a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character, Kate coordinates and supports research activities and internal evaluation.

Scholars concerned with the global climate crisis pay particular attention to the role hope plays in promoting responsible, constructive action (Kleres & Wettergren, 2017, Williston, 2012, Pikhala, 2017). Without hope, humans tend to respond to the climate crisis with either denial or despair and are more likely to abdicate responsibility for addressing the climate crisis. This study investigates the effectiveness of environmental justice role models in developing hope among students who wish to address the climate crisis.


Study #4: Fostering the Pluralistic Orientation of College Students

TEAM

  • PI: Kate Allman (Wake Forest University)

    Dr. Kate Allman is a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in English from Emory University, her M.Ed. in English Education from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on fostering holistic connections between student learning, evaluation, programmatic planning, and organizational thriving in Institutions of Higher Education. She has specialized expertise in holistic program evaluation, grant management, and institutional accreditation. Prior to coming to Wake, she served as a faculty member and administrator at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Towson University, where she led numerous formative, outcome, and impact evaluation projects using a collaborative, participatory approach. At Duke University, she was awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that supported the development of teacher leaders in STEM Education. As a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character, Kate coordinates and supports research activities and internal evaluation.

  • Co-PI: Bradley Burroughs (Wake Forest University)

    Bradley Burroughs is Assistant Director of Leadership and Character in Religious Life. He received a B.A. from Allegheny College, an M.Div. from Duke University Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. His academic work integrates theological ethics, modern social theory, and contemporary theories of virtue to explore the role and development of character in contemporary life. He is the author of Christianity, Politics, and the Predicament of Evil: A Constructive Theological Ethic of Soulcraft and Statecraft, as well as articles that have appeared in The Journal of the Society of Christian EthicsThe Journal of Lutheran EthicsChristian Century, and elsewhere. Prior to joining Wake Forest, he taught at Allegheny College, United Theological Seminary, and the Graduate Theological Union, where he held a joint appointment at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. In addition to teaching courses in ethics, theology, and formation, he also has experience in broad-based community organizing.

Americans are deeply polarized. The institutions, commitments, and practices that have long helped us find common ground are under stress. At the same time, America is becoming more diverse, making it even more important that college students learn to recognize and understand differences. Principled pluralism affirms the importance of respecting different beliefs and viewpoints, rooted in a commitment to both individual dignity and shared community (Smidt, 2007; Johnson, 2012). It affirms the value of robust engagement across differences and encourages sharing one’s values and viewpoints while engaging generously, even if critically, with people who hold different commitments and perspectives.

Little research has examined how principled pluralism can be explicitly fostered among college students. This study examines the effectiveness of an undergraduate, summer fellowship program in promoting pluralistic attitudes and orientations among college students.


Study #5: Understanding Faculty Integration of Character Education

TEAM

  • PI: Kate Allman (Wake Forest University)

    Dr. Kate Allman is a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in English from Emory University, her M.Ed. in English Education from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on fostering holistic connections between student learning, evaluation, programmatic planning, and organizational thriving in Institutions of Higher Education. She has specialized expertise in holistic program evaluation, grant management, and institutional accreditation. Prior to coming to Wake, she served as a faculty member and administrator at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Towson University, where she led numerous formative, outcome, and impact evaluation projects using a collaborative, participatory approach. At Duke University, she was awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that supported the development of teacher leaders in STEM Education. As a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character, Kate coordinates and supports research activities and internal evaluation.

  • Co-PI: Michael Lamb (Wake Forest University)

    Michael Lamb is the Executive Director of the Program for Leadership and Character and Assistant Professor of Politics, Ethics, and Interdisciplinary Humanities. He is also a Research Fellow for the Oxford Character Project. He earned a B.A. in political science from Rhodes College, a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University, and a second B.A. in philosophy and theology from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. His interdisciplinary research focuses on moral education, the ethics of citizenship, and the role of virtues in public life. He is the co-editor of Everyday Ethics: Moral Theology and the Practices of Ordinary Life, and his work has been published in a number of edited volumes and academic journals, including the American Political Science ReviewReview of PoliticsAugustinian Studies, and Journal of Religious Ethics. A political theorist with experience in practical politics, he has advised colleges on character education and civic engagement, co-founded a non-profit that supports sustainable development in Uganda, and served as chief of staff for campaigns for state senate, Governor, and U.S. Congress in his home state of Tennessee. Prior to joining Wake Forest, he helped to launch the Oxford Character Project and served as Dean of Leadership, Service, and Character Development for Rhodes Scholars. A recipient of teaching awards from Princeton and Oxford, he teaches “How to Keep a Republic” and “Commencing Character: How Should We Live?” and directs programs to develop leaders of character at Wake Forest.

  • Co-PI: Heather Maranges (Wake Forest University)

    Heather M. Maranges is the Senior Research Scholar at the Program for Leadership and Character, leading the program’s empirical assessment of programming, courses, and interventions to understand how to facilitate the formation of virtuous character. Heather received her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology at Florida State University, and the Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowship for work at the Social Justice Centre and Departments of Psychology and Philosophy at Concordia University. Early on in her in university years, her coursework incorporated considerable study not only in psychology, but also in philosophy, English literature, and biology. Today, her research seeks to understand what facilitates cooperation and virtue, inspired by both Aristotelian virtue ethics and behavioral ecology frameworks. In particular, she studies how both self-control and childhood environments/experiences shape moral character and decision making.

Advocates of character education in higher education (Brooks et al., 2019; Lamb et al., 2019) highlight the importance of preserving and strengthening character shaped in previous levels of education. While there is a growing body of research examining course-based character interventions in universities (Khoeler et al, 2020; LaSalle, 2015; Seligman, 2011), further research is needed to better understand faculty attitudes towards character education and the impact of targeted faculty development initiatives that promote course-based character education. This study aims to fill this gap in the research by examining faculty attitudes towards character education integration and how these attitudes change after involvement in a professional development workshop designed to support course-based character education across diverse disciplines.


John Templeton Foundation (JTF) Exemplar Research:

Study #1: Manipulating Narrative Points of View: A Potential Key Mechanism for Exemplar Interventions

TEAM

  • PI: Peter Meindl (Calvin College)

    Peter is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Calvin College whose research focuses on the cultivation of character virtues. Previously, he researched character education interventions as a postdoctoral fellow with the Character Lab at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Co-PI: Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania)

    Angela is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. A MacArthur Fellow, she is also the Founder and CEO of Character Lab.

  • Co-PI: Jesse Graham (University of Utah)

    Jesse is George S. Eccles Professor of Business Ethics and Associate Professor of Management at the University of Utah. He has extensive expertise on the psychology of moral values, moral judgment, and character education.

In Manipulating Narrative Points of View: A Potential Key Mechanism for Exemplar Interventions, Meindl and his team pay close attention to the contexts that enable the success of exemplar interventions, particularly in middle schools and high schools. Building on their past work in moral psychology, character education, and psychological interventions, they will develop a set of school-based interventions based on insights derived from innovations on “wise” interventions that consistently shape middle and high school students’ character virtues. Additionally, they will tailor these interventions in a classroom-friendly manner that motivates middle- and high-school teachers to utilize their interventions in the classroom.


Study #2: The Role of Emotions in Exemplar Interventions for Academic Character Building

TEAM

  • PI: Bart Engelen (Tilburg University)

    Bart is Assistant Professor of Philosophy who has published on the use of nudges and exemplars in moral education. Coordinating the service teaching courses at Tilburg, he plays a pivotal role in the implementation of the Tilburg Educational Vision with its focus on Academically Building Character.

  • Co-PI: Alfred Archer (Tilburg University)

    Alfred is Assistant Professor in Ethics with expertise in moral philosophy, moral psychology, and moral education. He was the primary investigator of the “Identifying Morally Exceptional People” project (funded by The Beacon Project at Wake Forest University) that brought together a team of philosophers and psychologists to investigate how morally exceptional people can be identified and what role they ought to play in moral education

  • Co-PI: Joanne Chung (University of Toronto)

    Joanne is Assistant Professor of Psychology with expertise on emotions and personality development. She is co-investigator of the project, “Emotional Character Growth Following Adversity” (funded by the Pathways to Character Project/John Templeton Foundation).

  • Co-PI: Theo Klimstra (Tilburg University)

    Theo is Associate Professor in Developmental Psychology. He has expertise in narrative analysis, the development of identity and morality-related personality dimensions, and longitudinal data analysis.

  • Co-PI: Anne Reitz (Tilburg University)

    Anne is Assistant Professor in Developmental Psychology. Her research focuses on the social contexts and processes of the development of personality and the self and draws on developmental, personality, and social perspectives while applying a wide range of longitudinal research methods.

  • Co-PI: Jelle Sijtsema (Tilburg University)

    Jelle is Assistant Professor in Developmental Psychology. He has expertise in the field of social relationships and pro- and anti-social behavior.

In Exemplar Narratives as Teaching Tools for Academic Character Building, Engelen’s team will focus on identifying key mechanisms that can influence the success of exemplar interventions in the university context. Specifically, they will run a longitudinal study examining the efficacy of different exemplar interventions with a focus on the role of self-transcendent and other-praising emotions in promoting character growth. Emotions have been hypothesized to promote character virtues by reinforcing key values. Additionally, emotions such as admiration, elevation, inspiration, compassion, gratitude, and awe may plan a particularly important role in promoting character virtues. In addition to examining the role of these emotions, Engelen and his team will employ a contextualized approach that examines which specific exemplar narratives are effective for which types of students.


Study #3: Educating Character through Exemplars: Designing Research-Based Interventions for Colleges and Universities

TEAM

  • PI: Michael Lamb (Wake Forest University)

    Michael is Executive Director of the Program for Leadership and Character and Assistant Professor of Politics, Ethics, and Interdisciplinary Humanities. He is also a Research Fellow with the Oxford Character Project, where he researched, designed, and facilitated exemplar-based character interventions. A Rhodes Scholar, he previously served as Dean of Leadership, Service, and Character Development for the Rhodes Trust.

  • Co-PI: Ann Phelps (Wake Forest University)

    Ann is the Director of Programming for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University. Previously, she served as Interim Director of Religious Life, Adjunct Professor, and Director of the Faith and Work Initiative at Millsaps College and a Research Fellow, Teaching Assistant, and Residential Fellow at Yale University.

  • Co-PI: Kenneth Townsend (Wake Forest University)

    Kenneth is the Director of Leadership and Character in the Professional Schools and Scholar-in-Residence in the School of Law. Previously he was Assistant Professor of Political Science, Special Assistant to the President, and founding Executive Director of the Institute for Civic & Professional Engagement at Millsaps College. A Truman Scholar and Rhodes Scholar with a J.D. and M.A.R. from Yale University and an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford. He pursues research on law and morality, the role of religion in a democracy, and the ethical character of professionals.

In Educating Character through Exemplars: Designing Research-Based Interventions for Colleges and Universities, Lamb and his interdisciplinary collaborators will draw on theoretical and empirical research to design a series of creative exemplar-based interventions to build character virtues among students at Wake Forest University. They aim to answer three key questions about promoting character in an institutional context: Which types of exemplar interventions are most effective for shaping the character of “emerging adults” in a university context? Which functions of exemplars are most relevant for students in this developmental stage? And how can exemplar interventions be integrated organically into both curricular and co-curricular offerings? By designing and assessing multiple types of exemplar interventions, their team will develop resources to enable other colleges and universities to adapt exemplar interventions for their own contexts.


Study #4: Using Exemplars to Facilitate Growth Following Adversity: Developing the SecondStory 2.0 Intervention

TEAM

The question of how exemplar interventions promote specific character virtues is a core goal of Jayawickreme’s study, Using Exemplars to Facilitate Growth Following Adversity: Developing the SecondStory 2.0 Intervention. Jayawickreme and his interdisciplinary team will examine whether narratives of moral exemplars who have experienced and overcome adversity can facilitate the promotion of specific character virtues. Recent philosophical work has highlighted how moral exemplars who have experienced adversity may lead to increased admiration for the exemplar, enable more effective emulation, and affirm important truths about the human condition. Jayawickreme’s team will develop an interdisciplinary account of how such exemplars can be successfully employed to develop character growth in the wake of adversity and test a modified intervention designed to promote such growth in a randomized controlled trial.


Study #5: The Role of Spiritual and Literary Exemplar Narratives in Cultivating Character

TEAM

  • PI: Liz Gulliford (University of Northampton)

    Liz is Senior Lecturer in Positive Psychology at the University of Northampton. Previously, she developed projects on the development of character virtues as a Senior Research Fellow at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham.

  • Co-PI: Edward Brooks (University of Oxford)

    Edward is the Executive Director of the Oxford Character Project, where he has researched, designed, and facilitated exemplar-based character interventions.

  • Co-PI: Oliver Coates (Cambridge University)

    Oliver is a lecturer in the faculty of History at the University of Cambridge who specializes in literary and textual analysis.

  • Consultant: Jonathan Brant (University of Oxford)

    Jonathan is Director of the Oxford Character Project, a Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford. He is also the Chaplain for the Oxford Pastorate.

In The Role of Spiritual and Literary Exemplar Narratives in Cultivating Character, Gulliford and her team will employ textual analysis to analyze different genres of exemplar narratives from diverse disciplinary perspectives. Their analysis will provide important information about how exemplar narratives appeal to individuals, as well as how they promote emulation and admiration. In doing so, Gulliford and her team will identify some of the psychological, pedagogical, and spiritual mechanisms that imbue moral exemplar narratives with their motivational and inspirational impact. By providing researchers and practitioners with important insights about the active ingredients of different types of exemplar narratives, they will facilitate the development of new interventions and narratives.