Conditions

University Francisco de Vitoria and the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation have partnered to announce the Expanded Reason Awards, which aim to recognize and promote academic innovations in the spirit of Benedict XVI’s proposal to broaden the horizons of reason.

I Statement of purpose

Scientific and intellectual life, which is the lifeblood of the contemporary University, is dominated by a scientific rationality, a rationality that assumes that it itself is the only sure path towards correct knowledge and its applications for the good of the person and society. Indeed, a University that prides itself in being one will guard with scientific rigor its intellectual work. Yet, there is something more.

When the role of the sciences is misunderstood and distorted, however, several vital questions are neglected. These include inquiries into the meaning of reality, the nature of knowledge and truth, and the very possibility of science itself – that is, deeper questions that are not answerable, strictly speaking, from the scientific perspective, but instead properly addressed within the humanities, chiefly philosophy and theology.

Broadening the horizons of rational investigation, beyond the confines of the natural sciences, is essential to bringing man back into focus as the proper subject and beneficiary of scientific knowledge. At their inception, universities appreciated that this is precisely where man belongs.

The true origin of the university lies in the thirst for knowledge that is proper to man. He wants to know what everything around him is. He wants truth. In this sense, one can see Socratic questioning as the impulse that gave birth to the western university.

(Benedict XVI. Address prepared for a visit to the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, January 17, 2008).

The Expanded Reason Awards aim to promote an academic culture that maintains and develops an appreciation of this deep-seated desire for truth, and that resists succumbing to the attraction of utility as the ultimate criterion of validity for human knowledge (Benedict XVI, 2008b).

Keeping this appreciation of the human desire for the whole of truth alive requires an integrated approach to research and teaching in the sciences, one that recovers the fundamental existential questions which emerge within the context of the particular disciplines and through reflection on the scientific enterprise in general. Science is a natural response to man’s encounter with the wonders of reality, and so the confluence of deeper philosophical and theological questions and scientific inquiry is entirely appropriate.

The Expanded Reason Awards seek to promote academic engagement in the following areas:

The anthropological question

Each class in any degree program presupposes, to varying degrees of significance, certain anthropological premises, whether implicit or explicit. A vision of humanity, moreover, has profound effects on the contents of a curriculum. In the context of any course of study we may ask: What notion of the human being colors the material that is being taught: a being who is solitary and individualistic, or one who is communal and interpersonal? Limited in time and place, or open to transcendence? Deterministically disposed by genetic makeup or historic-cultural factors, or capable of freedom? Above all, we may ask: What kind of man in the world and what kind of society are fostered by these premises?

The epistemological question

Each course taught at a university similarly presupposes certain epistemological premises that may or may not be explicit. That epistemology, moreover, necessarily conditions the content and manner of teaching, inasmuch as it pronounces on the basic questions of truth and the possibility of its attainment. Any teacher should confront these basic questions: Is there truth in what I teach? What are the limits of my discipline and method?

The ethical question

The anthropological and epistemological questions cannot be separated from the question of how we should act, whether in our theoretical or practical research, or even in our everyday, nonacademic lives. Whether implicit or explicit, there is an ethical dimension to each scientific discipline, to the extent that each has certain goals as well as technological, cultural, social, and personal implications.

The question of meaning

All members of the university community ought to consider thoughtfully in their hearts and minds the very meaning and purpose of academic life. True, each will have a particular interest in and devotion to his or her own area of specialization. But no discipline, including the sciences, is an isolated or isolable subject for research and teaching. The sciences in particular are by man and for man, and they unleash awe-inspiring potential, both for good ends and for destructive ones.

These questions require answers that supersede scientific rationality and presuppose the need for a fruitful dialogue with philosophy and theology, in order to avoid living from a form of reason that is  self-sufficient or isolated from the foundations that give meaning to it (Cf. Ibíd.).

The Expanded Reason Awards seek to promote a transdisciplinary dialogue that not only appreciates the interdisciplinarity of the sciences, but also affirms the relevance of broader philosophical and theological concerns.

The synthesis of knowledge as the achievement of expanded reason

Scientific inquiry requires specialization, as each practitioner sets out to study and uncover a particular aspect or dimension of the universe. Each of the sciences has its own methods and goals suited to its own domain. Notwithstanding the fragmentation of knowledge that may be the consequence of specialization, it is the duty of a university to counteract this tendency. The disparate conclusions and findings of specialized disciplines need to be synthesized, so that an appreciation of something more than mere utility emerges.

Any such synthesis must go beyond the mere collecting of knowledge from different disciplines. Indeed, it must strive for a unifying principle, something deeper which underlies a complete picture of knowledge.

When scientific inquiry happens alongside engagement with philosophy and theology, its findings and conclusions will not appear as irreducible and disparate vis-à-vis the humanities. Rather, these findings and conclusions will have the opportunity to be integrated with the perspective of the humanities, and what would otherwise remain fragmented knowledge has the chance to be assembled into a unified whole. This synthesis may well be understood as the passage from knowledge to wisdom, from knowledge of a phenomenon to grasping its foundations (Fides et ratio, n. 83).

To strive to synthesize knowledge in this manner is thus to promote a renewed science that transcends the narrowness and limitations of the individual disciplines. From this broadened vantage point, the scientific disciplines can each be nurtured, and in turn they can nurture philosophy and theology as well by supplying new data and experience for their reflection.

The Expanded Reason Awards thus seek to acknowledge scientists, artists, philosophers, and theologians who are making significant contributions to this transdisciplinary dialogue at their own institutions.

                                                    

II Object

The University Francisco de Vitoria, in collaboration with the Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, launches the Second Edition of the Expanded Reason Awards, whose object it is to celebrate and encourage innovation in scientific research and academic programs from the perspective of Benedict XVI to broaden the horizons of reason.

The awarding jury will review submissions of transdisciplinary academic projects, as characterized above in the statement of purpose, which demonstrate how the sciences can be integrated with the humanities. Such integration requires not only dialogue among the sciences, but also engaged and fruitful conversation with philosophy and theology regarding those questions that range beyond the purview of the sciences themselves. Successful projects will draw together reflections on the explicit and implicit humanistic questions of anthropology, epistemology, ethics, and meaning that are relevant to the scientific disciplines.

      These works must correspond to an active dialogue, based on themes that are contemporary and socially relevant for today.

      The research category includes scholarly works whose date of publication should not be prior to January 2015. If a work was published before that date, and the participant believes that it is still relevant in its topic, focus, and methodology, the participant must justify this properly when submitting the work.

The category encompasses scholarly articles and books that engage the challenge of the anthropological, epistemological, ethical and meaning questions from within their respective science or discipline. The works should be original even if based on prior works, adapted in its submission and explanation to accord with the current Edition of the Awards.

There are issues that currently require a transdiciplinary focus, as could be, for example, in the areas of,

  • Ecology of nature and ecology of the person.
  • Transhumanism.
  • Neuroscience and human personality.
  • Poverty, technology and the just economy.
  • Humanization of the business enterprise.
  • Justice and law, politics and the common good.
  • Communication and truth.
  • Artificial Intelligence

It is our hope that individual researchers and teams that are working along these and other lines of research will be able to find in these Awards an important encouragement for their continued work.  

In the teaching category, the jury seeks to honor current academic programs (syllabi, teaching guides, study plans, curricula, programming for educational communities, and so on) that explain in detail how they seek to integrate the anthropological, epistemological, ethical, and meaning questions into the teaching of a particular science or discipline. Works submitted in this category must be original and developed at the applicant’s home institution, and must be accompanied by a evaluative statement of efficacy based on the results of implementing the program in question.

In addition to the main work, an explanatory document is requested that, as a type of reading guide for the main work presented, it shows how the main work responds to the anthropological, epistemological, ethical and meaning questions. This document will help the jury understand to which extent the submitted work answers the challenge of the Expanded Reason Awards. This is why the supporting document is crucial to weigh in on both the value and relevance of each work.

University professors and researchers of any nationality are invited to apply for these awards, either individually or as a collaborative work group. The name of the principal coordinator should be clearly indicated for any collaborative projects.

The fields of knowledge that fall within the scope of these Awards are those fields and subfields proposed by UNESCO (according to the proposed international standard nomenclature for fields of science and technology).

III Prizes

  • Research Category:

Two prizes of 25,000 euros will be awarded.*

  • Teaching Category

Two prizes of 25,000 euros will be awarded.*

To receive an Award a recipient agrees to share the winning work at least at one seminar-symposium with other intellectuals. The modality of such an event will be established by the organizers of the Awards. The cost of travel, room and board for this will be handled by the organizers.

It is also possible to grant Honorary Mentions which will assume participation in the seminar-symposium with the awardees, as well as an invitation to participate at the Award Ceremony. The cost of travel, room and board for this will be handled by the organizers.

The Jury will further may choose up to 20 finalist works whose authors may be invited to attend the seminar-symposium with the awardees. For them, room and board will be handled by the organizers (but travel will be at the expense of the finalists).

*The amount of the cash award is subject to tax withholding as applicable by law.

IV Submissions and timetable

Submissions will be accepted in two languages, Spanish and English, both for junior or senior professors and researchers, understanding that both contribute to the search for truth from their innovation and experience and are needed in any academic community.

The length of the main document and its explanatory document is not set. A CV of each participant in the Awards must be included.

Submissions should be filed via the application section of the website http://www.expandedreasonawards.org filling out the appropriate forms provided.

Please note the following timetable:           

  • Submissions accepted beginning on October 1, 2017.
  • Last day submissions will be accepted: April 4, 2018.
  • List of honorees published on July, 2018, at http://www.expandedreasonawards.org

Should a work be submitted that had been presented at a previous edition of the Awards, this must be noted when submitting the work and the modifications must be noted in each case through an appendix or other suitable means.

V Criteria to be considered by the jury

In the Research category, special attention will be paid to:

  • Quality, rigor, and topical nature of knowledge of the particular science or discipline.
  • Transdisciplinary vision promoting true unity of knowledge.
  • Soundness of foundations in the areas of anthropology, epistemology, ethics, and meaning.
  • Breadth and depth of the bibliography.
  • Timeliness, originality and social relevance of the topic.

In the teaching category, special attention will be paid to:

  • Quality, rigor, and topical nature of knowledge of the particular science or discipline.
  • Transdisciplinary vision promoting true unity of knowledge.
  • Soundness of foundations in the areas of anthropology, epistemology, ethics, and meaning.
  • Breadth and depth of the bibliography.
  • Clarity of the underlying approach and its pedagogical suitability.
  • Originality of the proposed teaching/learning methodologies.
  • Evidence of transformation of the students and the common good.

VI Authorship, originality and dissemination of works

Participation in this competition implies full acceptance of any and all provisions contained in these rules, as well as acceptance of the jury’s decisions, which are final. Specifically, participants agree to the following:

  • Participants guarantee that they are the authors of the works submitted, and that they possess all the permissions required to submit them for this award, in order to be examined and assessed by the jury.

VII Jury

The jury will be composed of seven members of acknowledged international reputation, among whom will be a representative from the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, and the Rector of University Francisco de Vitoria, who will act as co-chairs. Jury members will be appointed by University Francisco de Vitoria (with the approval of the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.

The jury’s decisions will be made by a majority of the votes cast.

The awards may be declared void if, in the jury’s opinion, the quality of the proposals received does not meet the required standards. Honorary Mentions may also be selected.

All participants expressly waive the right to challenge the failure to award a prize.

These Conditions can be modified at any time without prior notice.

VIII Protection of personal data

In accordance with the provisions of Spanish Organic Law 15/1999 on the Protection of Personal Data, the personal data of award participants will be incorporated into a file which University Francisco de Vitoria will be responsible for, in order to manage participation in the award, promote it, present the awards, and invite participants to award events that they may consider to be of interest. Participants may exercise their rights of access, rectification, consultation and opposition by sending a request to the email address info@expandedreasonawards.org, along with a photocopy of their ID card, foreign residency number, or passport.

If you have any questions, please contact the organization at: info@expandedreasonawards.org