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OU Initiative Focuses on Measuring Virtue, How It Develops in Humans

Nancy E. Snow, professor and director of OU’s Institute for the Study of Human FlourishingThe Self do-directs the Motivation and Virtue Project.

NORMAN — A $2.6 million three-year research initiative at the University of Oklahoma, titled The Self, Motivation and Virtue Project, is funding 10 interdisciplinary research projects on the moral self, with a special focus on new ways of measuring virtue and how it develops in human beings.   

Nancy E. Snow, professor and director of OU’s Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, co-directs the Project with Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. The Project began in September 2014 at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Snow was professor of philosophy and acting chair of the Philosophy Department. Snow brought the Project to OU this past summer when she accepted an offer to serve as director of OU’s new Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing.

The Self, Motivation and Virtue project research teams are studying topics ranging from the physiological manifestations of integrity versus disingenuous behavior, to the way in which people’s moral development is shaped by the master narratives of their cultures, to an empirical investigation of Buddhism’s central claims about the self and how virtue develops within it.

Research from the 10 teams will be presented at two Self, Motivation and Virtue Project-sponsored conferences, published in academic journals, and made available through an online repository created with the assistance of OU Libraries and hosted on The repository will be accessible through the Project website.

The Self, Motivation and Virtue Project is funded by grants from the Templeton Religion Trust and the Spencer Foundation with support from Marquette University and OU. For more information about this project, visit