Jonathan Schulz awarded $2.54 M grant from John Templeton Foundation

Schulz focuses on medieval Europe to identify cultural factors influencing liberty and economic prosperity

Jonathan Schulz awarded $2.54 M grant from John Templeton Foundation

Economics Assistant Professor Jonathan Schulz and Joseph Henrich, a collaborator at Harvard University, have been awarded a $2.54 million research grant from the John Templeton Foundation to explore the important factors that promote liberty, free markets, and prosperity.  Assistant Professor Dr. Jonathan Beauchamp is also a contributor to this research project.  The award provides support for three years.   

Read more about the grant on the Templeton Foundation website:   

Religion, Family Structure and The Origins of Individual Freedom and Economic Prosperity.  

Dr. Henrich’s and Dr. Schulz’s team is tracing the origins of liberty, individual rights, and representative democracy by examining the historical transformation of social organization and family structure from kin-based institutions (e.g., clans) during the Middle Ages toward the nuclear family through influences from the Catholic Church.  They will investigate whether a more individualistic psychology develops outside of the strong bonds of the kin-based system, promoting individual rights and the development of democratic and more prosperous societies.  In the contemporary world, they will investigate how the strength of kin-based institutions related to economic and political outcomes.

Leveraging new scientific tools and emerging data in the cultural economics field, Schulz and his team will create databases using new digital corpora. These data will allow them to further explore how culture and customs, psychology, religious beliefs, and family structure have affected political and economic outcomes through history and in contemporary global societies. 

Novel approaches developed for their data collection and analysis also promise to contribute new methods for conducting large historical research projects.  This work requires cultivation of an interdisciplinary research team as the investigators bring together development economists, economic historians, geneo-economists, experimental economists, historians, linguists, psychologists, anthropologists, and computational biologists. 

For more information on this project and his research, contact Dr. Schulz at

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Dr. Schulz is an Assistant Professor affiliated with the Economics Department’s Center for Study of Public Choice.  Learn more about Dr. Schulz’s research, publications, and his Fall 2022 courses here, and follow him on Twitter.

Dr. Beauchamp is an Assistant Professor affiliated with the Department’s Interdisciplinary Center for Economics Science.  Find about his research and his Fall 2022 courses here

Read Schulz and Beauchamp’s earlier research article on cultural evolution and economics published in Science:

Schulz, J. F., Bahrami-Rad, D., Beauchamp, J., and Henrich, J. (2019). The Church, intensive kinship, and global psychological variation. Science. 366 (6466).

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The Templeton Foundation:  To learn more about the interdisciplinary work the Foundation supports across scientific, theologic, and philosophic disciplines, see the Vision, Mission & Impact statements.