Universities research all sorts of things. Medicine, policy effectiveness, science questions, historical events. Because studies are often funded by grants, the secret is finding a foundation that will fund it. And foundations can find researchers to study whatever they need to know. But this one is particularly unusual.
According to have a piece by Mark Muckenfuss at The Press-Enterprise:
UC Riverside philosophy professor John M. Fischer… has been given a three-year, $5 million grant to explore the boundary between life and death. He has dubbed the effort the Immortality Project.
“The main thing I hope is that we can understand our own mortal lives better,” Fischer said.
The grant comes from the John Templeton Foundation. The organization’s philosophy, which attempts to bring science and spirituality together, concerns some within the scientific community. Studies on subjects such as love and the efficacy of prayer tend to raise eyebrows.
About half of the grant will go toward scientific research into near-death experiences. Fischer will also study some attempts to prolong life. “People are beginning to talk about uploading our minds onto computers,” Fischer said to Muckenfuss, “taking a scan of our brains and being able to preserve it.” He acknowledged that such attempts were perhaps unusual, but “in philosophy we believe in thinking through these problems,” he explained.
The grant will also support staff and graduate students, as well as two conferences at the university.
This is apparently the largest ever awarded to a UC Riverside humanities professor.