Dedicated to fostering fresh thinking across cultures and disciplines and promoting practices of intelligent governance.

President Xi meets members of the Berggruen Institute's 21st Century Council
President Xi meets members of the Berggruen Institute's 21st Century Council

The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop foundational ideas and, through them, shape political, economic and social institutions for the 21st century. In the age of technology and globalization—as our traditions are challenged, new social orders are emerging and political institutions falter—critical analysis of our most fundamental beliefs and the systems founded on them is required.

Great Transformations are reshaping human life, social organization, and the world. These are epochal changes, not incremental, and are taking place now, in our lives and our children’s. The Berggruen Institute seeks to deepen understanding of these great transformations, the ethical responses they demand, the social decisions they make possible, and how they are seen from different civilizational perspectives:

  • Beyond Human: Science and technology, including especially artificial intelligence and bioengineering that can potentially redesign life itself.
  • Innovating Culture: Cultural change, including the influence of both globalization and creativity in science, art, and social life – and attempts to resist each.
  • Resilient Governance: The pursuit of more effective governance, including politics and social institutions.
  • Geo-Politics and the New Economy: The global intersection of geopolitics and economics, including possible transition beyond capitalism.

As an outwardly expansive and purposeful network, we bring together some of the best minds and most authoritative voices from across cultural and political boundaries to explore these fundamental questions of our time. Our objective is enduring impact on the progress and direction of societies around the world. 

For more see our Five Year Anniversary Report

Our History

Nicolas Berggruen (C), Queen Rania of Jordan (L), and Arianna Huffington (R) at the WorldPost Future of Work conference
Nicolas Berggruen (C), Queen Rania of Jordan (L), and Arianna Huffington (R) at the WorldPost Future of Work conference

In 2010 Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels sat down with a group of scholars in California to contemplate the challenges to governance in the 21st century. 

The tentative ideas that emerged from those original discussions became the foundation for the Berggruen Institute through the launch of its various projects and the publication of Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way Between West and East, a Financial Times “best book” of the year. 

The work of the institute has been devoted to proposing and implementing new ideas of effective governance. This has primarily been done through three projects: the 21st Century Council, the Council for the Future of Europe, and the Think Long Committee for California. Through these projects the Institute has worked closely with German and French Labor Ministers to develop a youth jobs plan for Europe; organized repeat delegations of government and industry leaders in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and other Chinese leadership to foster an open dialogue and better understanding between China and the West; and passed the California SB 1253 Ballot Initiative Transparency Act, strengthening the integrity of the state’s initiative process. In January of 2014, the Berggruen Institute formed a partnership with The Huffington Post, creating The WorldPost, an online global publication gathering top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet.

Students gathered at the Sciences Po, Europe: Next Step Town Hall.Paris; May 2013
Students gathered at the Sciences Po, Europe: Next Step Town Hall.Paris; May 2013

In 2015, the Institute expanded its mission with the creation of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center. The Center engages in the comparative study of different philosophical traditions crossing disciplines and cultures and fosters fresh thinking. It draws on Western and Eastern thinking much like the Berggruen Governance Center has done in its political work. The Center has launched fellowship programs at several universities, including Stanford University, Harvard University, NYU, Cambridge and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

In 2016 the Institute presented the first ever Berggruen Prize. The $1 million award is given annually to a thinker whose ideas are of broad significance for shaping human self-understanding and the advancement of humanity. The inaugural recipient - chosen by an independent jury - was Charles Taylor. One of the world’s foremost philosophers, Taylor is influential throughout the humanities, social sciences and in public affairs. He is a global leader in deepening understanding among different intellectual traditions and civilizations.

For more information about our history and work, please visit the Berggruen Governance Center and Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center sites.