• Largest research project in Baylor history to study human flourishing around the world

    Baylor Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Baylor ISR Director Byron Johnson, and project co-director Tyler VanderWeele

    When Dr. Byron Johnson first suggested the idea that is now the Global Flourishing Study, responses from potential collaborators ranged from “a pie in the sky” to “crazy.” Now, it’s being called a “dream come true” and the “largest initiative of its kind ever to study human flourishing.”

    The Global Flourishing Study is off and running, a massive research project that aims to uncover what its means to live well and to thrive around the world. A partnership between Baylor, Harvard University, Gallup, and the Center for Open Science, the study is being led by Dr. Byron Johnson, distinguished professor of the social sciences and director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. And while the dollar amount is certainly eye-popping — with $43.4 million in grants from a variety of sources, it’s the largest funded research project in Baylor history — its impact will be even more impressive.

    Over the next five years, the Global Flourishing Study will survey 240,000+ people across 22 nations worldwide about a variety of factors related to human flourishing, such as close relationships, mental and physical health, material stability and more. Further, it will apply scientific research methods to study the impact of faith on human flourishing across a variety of global religions.

    [MEDIA: Watch the launch of the Global Flourishing Study || Listen to Dr. Byron Johnson’s recent appearance on the Baylor Connections podcast]

    There’s another aspect of the study that particularly excites researchers: it’s longitudinal. That means researchers will survey the same people repeatedly throughout the life of the study. Gallup, a partner on the project, describes a longitudinal approach as the “holy grail” –scientists get causal data, not just correlational data. Most surveys of this magnitude survey different people each year because of the cost and efforts involved in surveying a representative sample repeatedly. The funding applied to this project amplifies the value scientists see in this approach. Johnson says the data will impact not only higher education, but has the potential to shape public policy, healthcare, religious organizations and more.

    Baylor is a natural fit for the project, since “Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics” is one of five signature academic initiatives of Illuminate, the strategic plan guiding Baylor towards preeminence as a Christian research university.

    “In some ways, I see this as Baylor’s gift to the world, to look at human flourishing,” Johnson says. “This is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s a topic that’s overwhelmingly important. If we can help figure out what makes people flourish or what hinders them from flourishing, maybe we’ll become more thoughtful as a society. That’s where this gets really exciting. There’s no better place than Baylor to lead a project that will can touch so many different aspects of our lives.”

    Sic ’em, Dr. Johnson and the Global Flourishing Study!