Press Release

Berggruen Institute Announces 2019-2020 Class of Fellows in U.S. and China as International Cohort of Berggruen Thinkers to Study Great Transformations

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Berggruen Institute has announced its fifth cohort of Berggruen Fellows to research the transformative ideas shaping our society and their impact on humanity while promoting both academic and cultural exchange globally. Joining a notable roster of Berggruen Fellows—one-year endowments include Amitav Acharya, S.M. Amadae, Naazneen Barma, R. Alta Charo, David Ciepley, Christina Dunbar-Hester, Brent Durbin, Misha Glenny, Michael J. Hiscox, Gabriel Kahan, Aaron Maniam, Allison Pugh, Venkatesh Rao,Philipp Schmitt, Yukiko Uchida, Yangming Wang, Steven Weber, and Yi Zeng. Advancing to the second year of their three-year fellowship are: Jacob Browning, Francis McKay, David Platzer, Nicole Rigillo, and Julianne Yip.

Founded in 2010 by philanthropist and investor Nicolas Berggruen, the Berggruen Institute mission is to develop foundational ideas and provide critical analysis that will shape political, economic and social institutions for the 21st century. Since its inception, the Berggruen Institute has launched the 21st Century Council, the Council for the Future of Europe, Berggruen China Center, the Think Long Committee for California, and the signature Berggruen Prize.

“The work of our Berggruen Fellows is central to the way in which the Berggruen Institute nurtures and develops groundbreaking ideas. This year’s program creates integrative and collaborative research opportunities for the Fellows and allows them to interact with one another to expand and refine their individual ideas,” said Berggruen Institute Vice President for Programs Nils Gilman.

As part of the University of Southern California Dornsife College fellowship are Christina Dunbar-Hester, Brent Durbin, Misha Glenny, Aaron Maniam, Alison Pugh, and Venkatesh Rao. Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) fellowship includes R. Alta Charo, David Ciepley, Michael J. Hiscox , and Yukiko Uchida. S.M. Amadae will conduct her research at both CASBS for the first half of the year and USC Dornsife for the remainder of her Fellowship.

The Fellowship Program offers scholars the opportunity of flexible periods to live and work in both the United States and China. Over the last four years, the themes of the fellowship have evolved from comparative philosophy and religion to the great transformations impacting the world today. The 2019-2020 Berggruen Fellows will produce books, scholarly workshops, deliver lectures, colloquia and academic articles to disseminate the ideas cultivated throughout their fellowship.

Great Transformations Fellows Research

Berggruen Fellows independent research and collaboration points will extend into the Institute’s programmatic areas to study the Great Transformations: Future of Capitalism,Globalization and Geopolitics, Transformations of the Human, and the Future of Democracy.

The Future of Capitalism program has two primary areas that the Fellows will be focusing on, Universal Basic Capital and New Political Economy. Globalization and Geopolitics research projects include Transactional International Order and US-China Dialogue on AI & Security to improve mutual understanding between the United States and China in relation to security risks, safety concerns, and potential cooperation opportunities involving AI in the security sphere. The Future of Democracy program brings together thoughtful leaders and leading thinkers to re-imagine democracy for the new era. Berggruen Fellows will work primarily on three topics: Digital Governance Through Social Credit System, Social Cohesion and the Public Square, and Renovating Institutions. Transformations of The Human (ToftH) is designed as a philosophical study and artistic exploration of the multiple ways in which AI and biotech challenge established ways of thinking about how we see ourselves as Human. Fellows will be placed in AI and Biotech labs to make visible that these are not only technical fields but also philosophical laboratories for reformulating what it means to be human. The program aims to help our partner sites build technology that can live up to their philosophical –– and human –– stakes.

About the 2019-2020 Berggruen Fellows: (for full Fellow bios, please visit (

Amitav Acharya will examine the crisis in the liberal international order and the emergence of a more pluralistic and post-Western Multiplex World. He is the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance and Distinguished Professor at the School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC. In addition to writing multiple books and op-eds he is the first non-Western scholar elected to lead the International Studies Association (ISA), the world’s largest and most influential association on international studies.

S.M. Amadae will conduct research on how neoliberal capitalism anticipates the political illiberalism stoking national populism. She is currently a University Lecturer in Politics at the University of Helsinki, Finland and is studying the Nordic welfare model as a non-utopian alternative to neoliberal forms of political economy. Her publications include Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy (Cambridge University Press 2016) and the award-winning Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy: Cold War Origins of Rational Choice Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Naazneen H. Barma will work on a collaborative project that aims to develop a 21st century-appropriate roadmap for constructing an international architecture to advance global liberalism. Barma is Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, and is also one of the founders and a co-director of Bridging the Gap, an initiative devoted to enhancing the policy impact of contemporary international affairs scholarship. Her research has spanned topics including peacebuilding, foreign aid, natural resource politics, and global governance with a regional focus on Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

R. Alta Charo will develop a structured approach to when and how biological concepts should be used to constrain legal imagination versus when and how they should be abandoned in favor of social definitions that better serve the purposes of law. Charo is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. Most recently Charo was one of the organizers for the Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong and was named to the WHO advisory committee on “Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing.”

David Ciepley will write a book on the two-hundred-year effort of Americans to keep their corporate economy compatible with constitutional democracy. His central contention is that corporations are not purely private associations but little governments created by the state in its own image, then placed in private hands. Ciepley was previously associate professor of political science at the University of Denver.

Christina Dunbar-Hester will research shifting techniques for the creation of planetary knowledge in a period of accelerated biodiversity loss. She is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and author of numerous books and articles, including Hacking Diversity: The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures (forthcoming, Princeton University Press) and Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism (MIT Press, 2014).

Brent Durbin will research strategies for advancing human rights, self-determination, and competition in a world characterized by weak institutions and retreating liberal leadership. He is Associate Professor of Government at Smith College, where he teaches courses in U.S. foreign policy, international relations, strategic intelligence, and the politics of information. He is also co-director of the Bridging the Gap Project, which promotes connections between scholars and the broader foreign policy community.

Misha Glenny will examine how we have, over the past 500 years, we have adapted our environment to a human scale and how technology both threatens the need for balance and yet may provide some solutions. He is a multiple award-winning British and Irish investigative journalist and historian who is currently working on the development of two television dramas and a stage play. A former BBC Central Europe Correspondent, Glenny covered the revolutions of 1989 and the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Michael J. Hoscoxplans to examine the ways businesses are responding to new and growing pressures to do good (by improving environmental and social outcomes) at the same time as they do well (by making profits and increasing shareholder value). Hiscox is the Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the department of government, Harvard University. At Harvard he is the founding director of the Sustainability, Transparency, Accountability Research (STAR) Lab and a faculty member of the Behavioral Insights Group at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership.

Gabriel Kahan has created an urban collective-intelligence resource and social methodology to help people from all backgrounds and abilities to have a voice in their community, understand their city, guide multi-pronged decision making, and cultivate shared perspectives. Kahan’s method is being developed into Berggruen Institute program for social cohesion, public participation and dialogue in Los Angeles called Sense LA. For more than a decade, he has worked closely with local and national governments, NGO’s and schools, creating and deploying online educational content, impacting more than 4 million students and teachers in the US.

Aaron Maniam will focus on how technology is changing international and national order and how governments can respond to these emerging challenges. He was the first Head of Singapore’s Centre for Strategic Futures (CSF) (2009-2011) and Institute Director of the Civil Service College’s Institute of Public Sector Leadership (2011-2013). Most recently, he served as Senior Director at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, coordinating policy on manufacturing, services, tourism and economic transformation. His research interests include the governance of and with digital technology, deliberative democracy, complexity theory, and polycentric governance.

Allison Pugh will be writing a book about the standardization – and automation – of work that relies on relationship. She is Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia. Her research, supported by the National Science Foundation, has taken her from observing therapy sessions in Virginia to juvenile detention classrooms in California to robots in Japan. She has been a visiting scholar in Germany, France and Australia, and her writing on work, relationships and inequality has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New Republic and other outlets.

Venkatesh Rao plans to study the changing relationship between time perception and the human condition, with particular focus on the hypothesis that a century-old culture based on universally shared objective clock time is giving way to a condition of multi-temporality — a human condition based on a fragmented landscape of subjective time cultures. He is best known as the founder and editor of the influential longform blog, Ribbonfarm, where he has been publishing both his own work, and that of several other influential contemporary essayists, for more than a decade.

Philipp Schmitt is a Berggruen Junior Fellow in residence at Facebook AI Research. His practice engages with the philosophical, poetic, and political dimensions of computation by examining the ever-shifting discrepancy between what is computable in theory and in reality. His current work addresses notions of opacity and the automation of perception in artificial intelligence.

Yukiko Uchida plans to evaluate the current global ranking systems of well-being from a cultural psychological point of view with special attention to how the current trend of market globalization changes local cultures, and consequently, the psychological functions of people in such cultures. As a cultural psychologist, she studies the psychological mechanisms behind the experience of emotions like happiness.

Yangming Wang will lead a project to study ethics and regulation policy on newly emerging interspecies chimera technology. He is the Principal Investigator at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Peking University where he studies the function of noncoding RNAs-the dark matter of our genome-and stem cells that hold potential to cure a variety of diseases such as diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Wang is broadly interested in the impact of cutting-edge biotechnology development such as genome editing, DNA sequencing and genetic diagnosis, and stem cell therapy on human society.

Steven Weber will work on a collaborative project to develop a 21st century-appropriate roadmap for constructing an international architecture to advance global liberalism. He is Professor at the School of Information and Department of Political Science at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the political economy of knowledge-intensive industries with special attention to digital technologies and national competitiveness. His best-known book, The Success of Open Source, was one of the first extensive studies of how the open source software community works.

Yi Zeng will contribute to forming and analyzing the global landscape of AI Principles and how these considerations are to be incorporated in the whole lifecycle of AI models and services. He is a Professor and Deputy Director at Research Center for Brain-inspired Intelligence, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, a board member for the National Governance Committee for the New Generation Artificial Intelligence, Ministry of Science and Technology China, and is also the Director for the Research Center on AI Ethics and Governance, Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence.


The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop foundational ideas and shape political, economic, and social institutions for the 21st century. Providing critical analysis using 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 fundamental questions of our time. Our objective is enduring impact on the progress and direction of societies around the world. 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, strengthened the ballot initiative process in California, and, included the creation of The WorldPost, a global media platform that brings thought leaders from around the world to share ideas. In addition, the Berggruen Prize, a $1 million award is conferred annually by an independent jury to a thinker whose ideas are shaping human self-understanding to advance humankind.

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

About The Berggruen Institute

The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop foundational ideas and shape political, economic, and social institutions for the 21st century. Providing critical analysis using 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 fundamental questions of our time. Our objective is enduring impact on the progress and direction of societies around the world.