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William Grassie

Founding Director, Metanexus Institute

William John Grassie is an American interdisciplinary scholar, social activist, and organizational consultant. He received his doctorate in comparative religion from Temple University and his BA in political science from Middlebury College.

Grassie has taught in a variety of positions at Temple University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to graduate school, Grassie worked for ten years in international relations and conflict resolution in Washington, D.C; Jerusalem, Israel; Berlin, Germany; and Philadelphia, PA. Grassie is the founding executive director of the Metanexus Institute. Founded in 1998, Metanexus ran grant competitions and research conferences for the John Templeton Foundation. Grassie also served for seven years on the advisory board of the John Templeton Foundation and worked closely with the senior staff, trustees, laureates, advisors, and Sir John. At its peak, Metanexus had a staff of seventeen based in Philadelphia. The organization worked with over 400 partners at universities in 45 countries and hosted a dozen highly acclaimed international conferences. Metanexus began online in 1997 as a moderated listserv and grew quickly into an evolving website that continues today at Metanexus promotes scientifically rigorous and philosophically open-ended explorations of foundational questions under the banner “Big History, Big Problems, Big Questions.”

Grassie is the recipient of a number of academic awards and grants from the American Friends Service Committee, the Roothbert Fellowship, and the John Templeton Foundation. In 2007-2008, Grassie served as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Buddhist Studies at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Grassie is author of The New Sciences of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and Bottom Up (Palgrave Macmillian, 2010) and a collection of essays Politics by Other Means: Science and Religion in the 21st Century (Metanexus, 2010). Grassie has also edited two volumes: Advanced Methodologies in the Scientific Study of Religion and Spirituality (Metanexus, 2010) and H+/- Transhumanism and Its Critics (Metanexus, 2010) with Gregory Hansell.

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