What is hope?


In late 2023, Dr. Van Cappellen was awarded with grant funding from the John Templeton Foundation to investigate lived experiences of hope! Dr. Van Cappellen serves as Principal Investigator on this grant ($259,979) titled “What is Hope? Bridging the Gap Between Lived Experience, Practice, and Research”, a three-year project beginning in September 2024 to March 2027.

Hope is an important human experience and a valuable resource for practitioners working with people facing adversity. Pioneering work by Snyder (1994, 2002) focuses on goal pursuit motives of hope; this project aims to further expand the psychological study of hope by engaging with lived experiences of practitioners and community members, including people of faith. To do so, “stories of hope” will be collected from people of varied religious and cultural backgrounds. In addition, an interdisciplinary scientific meeting (psychology, theology, nursing and medicine, other practitioners) will be held to co-construct an expanded definition of hope that is both phenomenologically-grounded and scientifically precise. This project will build foundational basis and provide the impetus for a renewed study of hope in psychology, one that sits more closely at the interface of healthcare, spiritual care, and lived experiences.

Bass Connections Project Team

We are excited to announce an interdisciplinary Bass Connections Project Team for the 2024-2025 academic year for this research!  Dr. Patty Van Cappellen will be serving as Team Leader alongside Dr. Erin Johnston for this project entitled, “What is Hope? Bridging the Gap between Experience and Research.”

In year-long Bass Connections project teams, faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students engage in collaborative research that explores complex societal issues.

What is Hope?

Hope is a central concept not only to promoting resilience and flourishing, but also as a religious competency. Its scientific study is, however, surprisingly limited — existing conceptions range from too narrow to too broad. We aim to renew our understanding of hope through a deeper engagement with its lived experiences and existential roots.

This team will engage with the lived experience of hope as reported by practitioners and community members, including people of faith. Team members will expand the understanding of what hope is through semi-structured interviews to gather 30-60 personal stories of hope. A data repository will be created, containing rich qualitative data on experiences of hope from a diverse set of people representing different religious, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Student Opportunities:

  • The team will include 3 graduate students and 12 undergraduate students with interest and background in the social sciences.
  • Students will develop skills in project design and learn social science research methods, analytical skills, and critical evaluation.

Please see the Hope Project Team page for full details! See the 2024-2025 Project Teams call page to learn more about Bass Connections teams.

Summer 2024 Call: Still recruiting both undergraduate and graduate students for the Bass Connections Hope Project Team! Email Dr. Van Cappellen (patty.vancappellen@duke.edu) if interested!