Call for Application: Peking University Berggruen Research Center Fellowship

About the Berggruen Research Center, Peking University
The Berggruen Research Center at Peking University
(henceforth referred to as ‘the Center’) was established on December 19, 2018. Launched by the President of Peking University and the Chairman of the Berggruen Institute, the Center is a hub for East-West research and dialogue dedicated to cross-cultural and interdisciplinary studies of the transformations affecting humanity. The Center engages China’s most outstanding thinkers to examine, share, and develop ideas to address global challenges. Intellectual themes for researchers and visiting scholars focus on frontier technologies and society—specifically in artificial intelligence, the microbiome, and gene editing, as well as issues involving global governance and globalization. The Berggruen Institute has committed $25.5 million to establish the Center, which includes a fellowship program, and houses program activities such as lectures and symposia alongside a host of other public events. Click here for the Center’s 2020 Annual Report.

About the Berggruen Fellowship
The Center seeks to foster a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, economic, and governance-related transformations that are reshaping the human condition in order to better inform practical responses. It organizes and supports inquiries that bring multicultural and interdisciplinary knowledge to questions of governance, philosophy, culture, and to questions of global restructuring, especially in the context of China.

Selected Berggruen Fellows will work on topics related to the Center’s three core themes:

Frontier technology and philosophy: What kind of new topics and challenges has frontier technology brought to us? What kind of new perspectives and intellectual resources can philosophy contribute to those topics? In light of the developments in areas like evolution, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence, we welcome forward-looking philosophical reflections on life, society, and the self-understanding of humans. We also welcome explorations of the underlying connections between science, technology, and the humanities from perspectives of the science fiction and art.

Frontier technology and society: How is the rapid development of frontier technologies interconnected with the structural changes of human society? The outbreak of Covid-19 has rekindled conversations about our relationship with each other, with nature and other beings, and on how we can use technology to respond to disasters. The breakthroughs in gene editing, microbial research, and artificial intelligence have generated numerous social implications. We need to examine these implications in view of their cultural and ethical foundations in different societies.

Transformation of governance: Facing the pressing changes and transformations in all areas of governance across the world, we need to rethink, from individual, social, political, cultural, and ecological perspectives, the fundamentally relational nature of human rationality. How could we transcend the limits of the current global system and embrace a novel, truly pluralistic framework of global governance? We endeavor to think in terms of a comprehensive worldview that observes the holistic good of humans and their environment, to build a convivialistic, planetary system for the future of governance.

Thinkers in all areas, including science, philosophy, sociology, art, etc. are welcome to join us. The fellowship is part-time and is expected to last one year from 2021 to 2022. The Center will negotiate with the fellow on their individual starting date. A yearly stipend of 200,000 CNY (before tax) will be paid to the selected fellow on a monthly basis, and the fellow is expected to be aware of her/his own income tax structures.

The selected fellow will negotiate an agreement with the Center to contribute to the Center’s yearly programs, such as writing three short essays, organizing events, or conducting her/his own initiatives. Fellows are required to participate Center’s fellow gathering events.

Criteria:

• You must be a faculty member of Peking University.

• You must be committed to intellectual work of the highest quality.

• Applicants should hold the highest degree in their field of study or commensurate research expertise.

To Apply:

Send application materials denoted below to ChinaCenter@berggruen.org before May 31, 2021.

I. Curriculum Vitae

II. Project Statement

Your project statement (up to 1000 words) should answer two questions:

Question #1: What is your proposed project?

Concisely describe the work you plan to do during your fellowship year(s):

• Explain the specific questions and research ideas that you will explore as well as your working schedule for the entire year of your fellowship.

• Describe the public impact of your project: how will you collaborate with the Center to raise public awareness of this organization’s theme and work?

Question #2: What is your most important work relevant to the Center’s three core areas?

• Identify your most important book, book chapter, or article and explain its importance and its relevance to the Center’s work. Explain how it corrected a misconception in the literature, how it advanced thinking in some salient way, and/or how it filled an important knowledge gap.

The application deadline is May 31, 2021. The Center’s Academic Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Lin Jianhua and Professor Roger T. Ames, will decide upon the awardee. The awardee will receive notification of their fellowship before August 20, 2021.


Attachments (Programs’ Description)

Frontier Technologies and Philosophy Program

Introduction

We live in an era of explosive growth in knowledge. Frontier technologies are allowing humans to understand the world in unprecedented ways at speeds faster than in any other time in history. At the same time, they have also created new perspectives from which human beings understand themselves. Progress in digital technologies and cognitive science, which includes the field of artificial intelligence, constantly refreshes and challenges the human understanding of the mind. Meanwhile, the rapid development of biotechnologies has created new ethical issues.

The Berggruen Research Center, Peking University believes that it is imperative to make full use of intellectual resources from across the world to explore topics in philosophy which can respond to the challenges from frontier technological paradigms, provide an interdisciplinary roadmap for the way ahead, and connect the past with the future. In this way we can develop and shape impactful ideas and scientific/technological concepts.

Since its establishment in 2018, the Center has focused on frontier technologies that involve artificial intelligence philosophy, biotechnology philosophy, and Chinese philosophy. In projects that explore bioethics against the backdrop of frontier technologies, we explore the new challenges to human self-awareness and practice brought about by a wide range of biomedical technologies, from gene editing to embryonic stem cell technology. In the field of artificial intelligence ethics, we promote communication between scientists and philosophers and advocate thinking about fundamental issues before formulating specific ethical codes.

The Center plans to expand further into the intersection between technology and philosophy. We will turn our focus to the topics and challenges brought about by frontier technological research in life sciences, cognitive science, and intelligence science to the traditional humanities such as philosophy. We will also explore how philosophy can provide new angles and ideas for further exploration of topics related to these frontier technologies. The Center encourages effective cross-disciplinary dialogue between cutting-edge fields such as evolution, cognition, and artificial intelligence that reflects philosophically on the future of life, human society, and human self-understanding. At the same time, starting from perspectives in sci-fi literature and art, we will discuss topics such as the underlying relationship between technology and humanity and what the future holds for the human race. By fully tapping into ideas offered by different cultures and historical traditions, we hope to positively contribute theoretical approaches to how humans can coexist harmoniously with nature in the technology age. We encourage interdisciplinary thinkers to join our projects and jointly promote the enrichment and development of these topics, which are not only of great urgency, but also of profound value to future generations.

This program is closely linked with the Center’s “frontier technologies and society” and “governance transformation and change” programs, providing them with guidance through fundamental ideas that will enhance our understanding of this era of change and help institutions, policymakers, and members of the public from around the world cope with these profound changes.


Frontier Technologies and Society Program

Introduction

The rapid development and extensive application of life technologies and digital technologies are profoundly changing how human society is organized, requiring us to assess and reflect on the interaction between frontier technologies and society.

The Berggruen Research Center, Peking University believes that it is imperative to make full use of intellectual resources from across the world to deeply examine, from an interdisciplinary perspective, how human society has been changed by the development of frontier technologies, as well as to explore the opportunities and challenges that we face in regards to ethics and governance.

Since its establishment in 2018, the Center has focused on ethical and social discussions related to artificial intelligence, gene editing, and other fields of research. In our “AI narratives in China” project, a collaborative with the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, we explore how ancient Chinese classics and folk legends and contemporary science fiction narratives and media jointly exert an impact on contemporary public attitudes towards intelligent technology. In our “AI and privacy” project, we cooperate with industry partners to explore the challenges that new technologies such as facial recognition have brought to society, inquiring what the concept of privacy means at a fundamental level. Co-directors and scholars of the Center have also contributed to the book project Chinese Prospects for the Standardization of Robot Ethics, commissioned by the National Robotics Standardization General Working Group of China.

The Center hopes to further expand into fields where technology and society intersect, uphold the concept of openness, and encourage the examination of how different social, historical, and cultural backgrounds lead to different conceptions of relational rationality. This will allow us to unearth the cultural and social implications that underlie frontier technologies and related ethical topics, from fundamental reflections on the social significance of the ethical foundations of science and technology that arose due to the breakout of COVID-19, to new challenges to social governance created by the development of artificial intelligence, gene editing, and microbial communities. We encourage interdisciplinary thinkers to join our projects and together promote these topics of profound contemporary and future significance.

The program is closely linked to the Center’s “frontier technologies and philosophy” and “governance transformation and change” programs, which will structurally enhance our understanding of this era of change, cultivate and advance new ideas and concepts, and help institutions, policy makers, and members of the public from around the world cope with these profound changes.


The Transformation of Governance Program
Introduction

We live in an era of great transformation. Frontier technologies are developing rapidly, geopolitical rivalries are intensifying, political polarization is occurring in many countries, social divisions are worsening, and the climate crisis continues unchecked. Amidst all these are repeated surges in COVID-19 outbreaks around the world. Together, these global challenges have exerted a profound impact on human society.

The Berggruen Research Center, Peking University believes that it is imperative to make full use of intellectual resources from across the world to discuss and explore future-oriented global governance concepts aligned with the overall interests of mankind and our living environment, so as to develop and shape new ideas, concepts, and practices that will have an impact on the world.

Since its establishment in 2018, the Center has focused on global governance. In our “Tianxia” project, we have explored how a worldview founded upon all-embracing openness, integration, and relational rationality inspires, impacts, and advances global governance.

In exploring related topics, we are focusing on how value systems originating from the world’s philosophical, cultural, and historical traditions both shape and limit concepts and practices in contemporary global governance. We encourage drawing upon underlying intellectual frameworks to reflect on the relational nature of human rationality at the levels of the individual, societal, political, and cultural ecosystems, in order to explore paths towards a truly open and pluralistic value system that encompasses the big picture. Through these explorations, we think about how to build a planetary system that is oriented toward the overall interests of mankind and our living environment and that reflects a “planetary mindset” characterized by harmonious, convivial coexistence. We encourage interdisciplinary thinkers to join our project and together promote this far-reaching intellectual shift.

This program works closely with the Center’s “frontier technologies and philosophy” and “frontier technologies and society” programs, and it is closely linked with projects led by the Los Angeles Center. Through holding academic seminars, supporting experimental exploration, and launching a full range of media products, this project helps institutions, policymakers, and members of the public from around the world cope with the challenges brought about by global change.