Berggruen Institute and Peking University Announce New Hub for Research and Dialogue on Global Transformations Affecting Humanity

Rachel S. Bauch

Berggruen Research Center, Peking University

Berggruen Institute Commits $25.5 Million to Establish the New Academic & Interdisciplinary Research Center on the Prestigious Peking University Campus

The Research Center to Study Chinese Perspectives in Frontier Technologies and Transformational Issues—from Artificial Intelligence, Gene-Editing to Global Governance Theories and Practices Inspired by Non-Western Traditions

The Research Center to host Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture Public Lecture Series; Academic Talks, Workshops, and Symposia

L-R: Song Bing (Director of the China Center), Ray Chambers (UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Health in Agenda 2030), Nicolas Berggruen (Chairman of the Berggruen Institute), Wang Bo (Vice President of Beijing University), and Lynn Zhao (President of Peking University Foundation USA)

The Berggruen Institute and Peking University, today announced the formation of a joint research center located on campus at Peking University. Focusing on scholarly research and public discourse, the new Berggruen Research Center, Peking University establishes a physical presence and formalizes the academic partnership between the Los Angeles-based think tank and the prestigious Beijing-based university.

The Berggruen Institute has committed $25.5 million to establish the Research Center which will include a fellowship program dedicated to the cross-cultural and interdisciplinary study of the transformations affecting humanity; house program activities such as lectures and symposia; and present a schedule of public events. Because of its location in Beijing, the Research Center will engage China’s most outstanding thinkers to examine, share and develop ideas to address global challenges.

“To address the transitions facing humanity throughout the world, we began to envision our work in China as a hub for both research and idea generation shaped by integrative disciplines and experts throughout China. “Our new Research Center provides a gathering place for linking the East and West—drawing from Chinese perspectives that will allow us to look at the world in a less fractious and compartmentalized way,” said Nicolas Berggruen, Chairman of the Berggruen Institute. “We are tremendously grateful to Peking University for their collaboration on this adventurous new Research Center and we greatly respect how its rich scholarly life will deepen our research and contributions to the important questions of our time.”

The announcement is the latest step in the Berggruen Institute’s East-West exchange. Since its inception in 2010, the Berggruen Institute has focused on partnerships and research in China through the Berggruen Fellows program; with academic partners at Tsinghua and Fudan universities; and most importantly through its Understanding China Conference series organized by the Chinese Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy (CIIDS) which is headed by Chairman Zheng Bijian. The conference brings together the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council with Chinese political leaders—namely President Xi Jinping—for wide ranging discussions about China.

With its increasing commitment to global dialogue, the Berggruen Institute retained Song Bing as director of the Berggruen China Center to lead its academic and policy research and fellowship programs in China and to establish partnerships with major academic institutions in China. Song Bing will serve as co-director of the Berggruen Research Center, Peking University, along with a counterpart from Peking University.

Intellectual themes for researchers and visiting scholars will focus on global transformations, specifically in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and gene-editing as well as issues involving global governance and globalization. Officials from Peking University stated the importance of working with the Berggruen Institute, a world-class think tank seeking solutions for real-world questions, as an international collaboration in education and research particularly in addressing the global challenge of academic research in frontier technologies that impact the future of mankind and society.

Events and public programs related to thematic areas will include both academic as well as public discussions, formal and informal gatherings, to tie the Research Center into the everyday fabric of the Peking University campus and into the city of Beijing. Seminars and public lectures featuring Berggruen Prize laureates and other prominent thinkers will take place throughout the year in coordination with the Berggruen Prize, a $1 million award given annually to a thinker whose ideas have shaped humanity over time. The Research Center will also present the scholarly and policy-driven contributions from its fellows’ community as well as written and multimedia work of the multidisciplinary professionals assembled to explore the Research Center’s thematic issues and projects.

“I am hopeful, that, with the opening of this new Research Center we will be the global platform where top thinkers from East and West can discuss and debate issues of global significance and bring fresh ideas and innovative thinking to a changing world,” stated Song Bing, Berggruen Institute China Center Director and Co-Director of the Berggruen Research Center, Peking University.


About the Berggruen Institute

The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop ideas and shape political, economic and social institutions for the 21st century. Providing critical analysis using an outwardly expansive and purposeful network, the Berggruen Institute brings together some of the best minds and most authoritative voices from across cultural and political boundaries to examine the changes sweeping across the world and to ensure humanity isn’t being lost in the mix. To date, projects inaugurated at the Berggruen Institute have helped develop a youth jobs plan for Europe, fostered a more open and constructive dialogue between Chinese leadership and the West, and strengthened the ballot initiative process in California. The Berggruen Institute partners with The Washington Post to produce The WorldPost, an award-winning global media platform. Additionally, the $1 million Berggruen Prize is conferred by an independent jury and awarded annually to a thinker whose ideas are helping to shape human self-understanding and advance humankind.

About Peking University

Since its establishment in 1898 as the first national comprehensive institution of higher learning ever founded in China, Peking University has been regarded as a symbol of modern Chinese education. With democratic administration laying great emphasis on academic freedom and scientific research, Peking University has produced a great number of scholars in various areas of concentration and specialty. The institution has always been at the forefront of China’s modernization, from offering innovative academic instruction to bolstering new overseas relationships. With current trends of worldwide globalization demanding rapid development in the social, economic, and technological spheres of Chinese society, Peking University utilizes its traditional strengths in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to make further progress in engineering, applied sciences, education, and numerous other interdisciplinary fields of study, resulting in the marked improvement of Peking University’s academic disciplinary system. With these serving as the basis for projected advancement, Peking University hopes to provide scholarly contributions to society, cultivate capable and inventive young minds, and ultimately better Chinese society both internally and on the global front.

Rachel Bauch, Berggruen Institute
O: (424)-229-9907; M: (323) 841-4139

composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.