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Davis awarded grant to study natural disaster survivors

College of Education and Human Development Assistant Professor Don Davis is part of a team that was awarded a three-year, $1.8 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation for a series of projects investigating spiritual and psychological growth following natural disasters.

Davis will work with faculty at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, the University of North Texas and Hope College on four core projects and three supplemental projects exploring how adult survivors grow both psychology and spiritually after regionally-impacting, federally-declared major natural disasters.

These projects include asking natural disaster survivors to journal about how they view and relate to God and how they make meaning from their disaster-related experiences; interviewing survivors about their representations of God over time and how individual-, social- and community-level factors have influenced these changes in God representations; and more.

“Our projects are based on Sir John Templeton’s belief that regardless of circumstance or challenge, people are capable of pursuing purpose and living abundantly,” he explained in the grant proposal. “In particular, our projects explore answers to big questions, such as how natural disasters affect the ways survivors find meaning, think about and relate to God, and ultimately grow and flourish from the experience of adversity.”

For more information about Templeton Foundation, visit