The Telos Project

Research Study

The Telos Project

Research Study

September 2020—Present

Research Team

Pamela Ebstyne King, Principal Investigator

Rodrigo Riveros Miranda, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Funded By

The Thrive Center for Human Development

Project Overview

Given the radical and frantic change throughout society, the Telos Project seeks to convene interdisciplinary scholars and to synthesize existing scholarship to further understand the ends of human development and thriving. Drawing on psychological science, philosophical, and theological perspectives, teleology provides a framework for human thriving pointing to the importance of the development of differentiated individuals in reciprocating relationships with others, and evolving moral and spiritual aspirations that contribute to flourishing society.

Related Publications

The Reciprocating Self, 2nd Ed
The Reciprocating Self: Human Development in Theological Perspective

In this revised and expanded second edition, Drs. Jack Balswick, Pamela King, and Kevin Reimer present a model of human development that ranges across all of life’s stages, based on a theologically grounded understanding of the nature of persons and the self. The authors do this by drawing on a Biblical model of relationality, where the created goal or purpose of human development is to become a reciprocating self—fully and securely related to others and to God. Critically engaging social science research and theory, The Reciprocating Self offers an integrated approach that provides insight helpful to college and seminary students, as well as those serving in the helping professions. Those in Christian ministry will find in-depth discussion of the implications for moral and faith development nurtured in the context of the life of the church.

Joy as a Virtue: Means & Ends of Joy

Dr. King and Thrive Fellow, Defoy propose a definition and framework for understanding joy through thriving.

Joy Distinguished: Teleological Perspectives on Joy

Dr. King propose a teleological framework to conceptualize joy as a virtue that can lead to thriving.

Religion, Spirituality & Thriving

Thrive scholars propose that religion/spirituality is related to thriving through telos, virtues, and transcendence.

The Reciprocating Self: Being & Becoming

Drawing from Christology, Dr. King proposes that humans were created to be reciprocating selves.

Related Resources

Teens on Their Phones
Telos, Technology & Thriving

Dr. Pamela Ebstyne King shares how telos provides a framework for understanding how technology can serve as a potential source for thriving.


Selected Presentations

The role of telos

Dr. Pam King defines telos and explains the important role it plays in youths' lives this interview with the Yale Youth Ministry Institute.

This interview was published by Yale Youth Ministry Institute.

Practical applications of telos

Dr. Pam King sits down with the Yale Youth Ministry Institute and shares the meaningful ways youth practitioners can help advance a youth’s telos or purpose.

This interview was published by Yale Youth Ministry Institute.

Young people & the church
Dr. Pam King responds to the lecture by Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean from Princeton Theological Seminary, reflecting on the “telos” of Christian faith and its relationship to empowering youth.

This interview was published by FULLER Studio.