Smiling man and woman

What does it mean to live well? To be truly healthy? To thrive? Researchers and clinicians have typically answered these questions by focusing on the presence or absence of various pathologies: disease, family disfunction, mental illness, or criminal behavior. But such a “deficits” approach tells only so much about what makes for life well-lived, about what it means to truly flourish.

That’s all about to change.

In the largest initiative of its kind, the Global Flourishing Study will investigate the determinants of human flourishing. This $43.4 million, five-year annual study will survey 240,000 individuals in 22 countries across a broad range of well-being outcomes.  

Led by sociologist, Byron Johnson, PhD, distinguished professor of the social sciences at Baylor University, and epidemiologist Tyler J. VanderWeele, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, the Global Flourishing Study will examine the determinants of well-being including the effects of religion/spirituality. 

“This groundbreaking study will shed light on the extent to which different nations are flourishing, explain the causes of societal flourishing, and establish how various aspects of major faith traditions and spirituality affect flourishing in specific cultural contexts around the world,” notes Fetzer Senior Program Officer, Mohammed Mohammed

For Fetzer, this deepened examination of religion and spirituality as an indicator of human flourishing is especially important. Better understanding the influence of religion/spirituality and the role that religious communities have on human flourishing will help inform our assertion that our world’s greatest challenges have a spiritual core in need of tending.  

Over the next five years, the team will analyze longitudinal data on the patterns, determinants, and social, psychological, spiritual, political, economic, and health-related causes of human flourishing. “The scope of this project is unprecedented and likely to yield valuable insights for global survey research using this type of methodology,” noted Dr. Rajesh Srinivasan, Global Research Director of the Gallup World Poll. 

The research team will partner with the Center for Open Science to make the data an open-access resource so researchers, journalists, policymakers, and educators worldwide can use one of the richest datasets in the world on the markers of human flourishing to make policy and design future research.  

Fetzer is honored to partner with these distinguished scholars from Baylor and Harvard, as well as the Gallup Organization and the Center for Open Science, as part of a consortium of funders providing joint support for this important work: the John Templeton Foundation, the Templeton Religion Trust, the Templeton World Charity Foundation, the Paul L. Foster Family Foundation, the Wellbeing for Planet Earth Foundation, Well Being Trust, and the David & Carol Myers Foundation.  

Sign up for our email list to receive important updates on this study, and learn more about the questionnaire design for the Global Flourishing Study in this detailed report from Gallup.  


Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion logo

Baylor University’s Institute for the Study of Religion exists to initiate, support, and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum.

Harvard University Human Flourishing Program logo

Harvard University's Human Flourishing Program at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science aims to study and promote human flourishing, and to develop systematic approaches to the synthesis of knowledge across disciplines.

Gallup Organization "G" logo in white with black background

The Gallup Organization is a global analytics and advice firm that helps leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems.

Center for Open Science logo in black white and blue

The mission of the Center for Open Science is to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scholarly research.