Saybrook professor announces new scholarship with Ernest Becker Foundation

Saybrook University faculty member Louis Hoffman, Ph.D., recently announced that the Ernest Becker Foundation of Seattle, Washington, has agreed to offer a $1000 scholarship each year for the continuing Saybrook student who writes the best research paper using the work and research of Dr. Ernest Becker. Dr. Hoffman, who directs the Existential, Humanistic, and Transpersonal Psychology Specialization within the College of Social Sciences, began working last year with Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director at the Ernest Becker Foundation, to make arrangements for the scholarship.

“Becker has long had an influence on existential-humanistic psychology, and has long been integrated in various ways into the curriculum at Saybrook,” said Dr. Hoffman. “A number of the faculty at Saybrook identify Becker as one of their most important influencers, so Saybrook is deeply thankful for the relationship with the Ernest Becker Foundation,” he said. Saybrook faculty member Dr. Ed Mendelowitz, who is an insightful Becker scholar, will be the lead person for facilitating the scholarship and writing projects.

Ms. Jacobs hopes that by providing this scholarship the Foundation can encourage Saybrook students to engage deeply with Dr. Becker’s work and develop their ideas around the present-day applications of his synthesis. “We have long-standing relationships with Dr. Kirk Schneider and others at Saybrook, and have appreciated the University’s commitment to teaching Ernest Becker,” she said. “When looking for an opportunity to encourage student scholarship on Becker, Saybrook came first to mind as a great partner.”

Established in 1993, the Ernest Becker Foundation seeks to advance understanding of how the unconscious denial of mortality profoundly influences human behavior. Ernest Becker laid the foundation for this work in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death.

The student author of the winning paper receives $1000 and the potential to receive another $1000 if she or he chooses to develop the paper for publication under the mentorship of a Saybrook faculty member. The Foundation also provides a stipend of $2000 to the faculty advisor, Ed Mendelowitz, who works with the student to develop the paper. Papers are solicited by Saybrook faculty and judged based on the quality of writing and exposition of thought by a team of Becker scholars from both the University and the Foundation.

Ms. Jacobs is hoping that this scholarship project fosters deeper relations between the two organizations. “We would love to see the Saybrook and EBF communities have increased exchange of ideas, gatherings, and outreach efforts,” she said. “We encourage Saybrook students and professors to follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep abreast of our current and future partnerships!”

Dr. Hoffman said, “We really hope that our Saybrook students carry forth these ideas as ambassadors for Becker’s work. His work is extremely relevant to contemporary times.” For more information regarding the new scholarship, please contact Dr. Louis Hoffman.