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April 07, 2017

Penn researcher awarded grant to dig deeper into connection between the arts and well-being

Final phase of research will be to apply new learned practices to communities

A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania has been awarded a three-year, $2.5 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to hone in on the connection between the arts and humanities and one’s well-being, according to Penn News.

Ultimately, the goal of the research, which is being led by James Pawelski, director of education and senior scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, is to come up with new applications to bring increased exposure to the arts into real-world settings like schools and organizations.

In doing so, Pawelski and his team plan to collaborate with organizations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center and OPERA America in New York City; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Penn News said.

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The research will build upon Pawelski's previous work on the subject, which focuses on the theory that involvement in the arts can activate the brain, "triggering positive emotions, engaging creativity, enhancing meaning or even supporting moral choices and greater participation in civic life."

Penn News notes that the research will be broken into three phases, with the first kicking off this month and bringing together scholars in philosophy, theology/religious studies, history, literature, music, art, theater and film to discuss the well-being value of their respective fields in forums and written anthologies.

The next step, or phase, will use what is learned from the experts as the basis for large-scale, longitudinal studies “to test our hypotheses and look for valuable new knowledge about the various ways the arts and humanities affect well-being,” Pawelski told Penn News.

The last step will be to apply the findings to individuals and communities.

Read more at Penn News.