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New releases: Global Priorities Institute research agenda and posts we’re hiring for

The Global Priorities Institute has released a new research agenda, and is now hiring researchers and a maternity cover to run its operations. Please consider applying, or sending this to others you know who might be interested in applying!

 

What is the Global Priorities Institute?

The Global Priorities Institute is a research centre at Oxford University. Its aim is to develop the intellectual roots of the EA movement with an academic level of rigour and detail, and to spread EA theory and concerns throughout academia. Although effective altruism is gaining increasing traction in the non-profit world, it has gained comparatively little within academia so far. That is problematic because many of the world’s most talented researchers are academics, and would, therefore, have a lot to offer in answering the central question of effective altruism: how a given unit of resources can do the most good. In addition, academics are the authorities consulted by policymakers and the media, and they teach the next generation of leaders. It is likely that an important mechanism for getting society to a position where the major decisions in the world are made by determining what the worldwide priorities are in terms of importance, neglectedness and tractability, will be getting these principles accepted within academia. GPI seeks to make this happen. 

 

New research agenda

GPI has just released its new research agenda. It’s a work in progress, so we would be very grateful for comments! Its central question is how we can use our finite resources to do the most good, although we also plan to do some research on the nature and strength of people’s motivation and obligations to care about that question. How to use resources to do the most good can roughly be split into two areas of research: determining which problems are most important to work on (you might call this ‘working out what cause to prioritise’), and working out what the best means are for solving those problems. Within the first area we would work on questions such as to what extent the value of our actions is driven by their effect on the long-term future, and how likely it is that the long-term future has positive value. Examples of promising topics in the second area are what the best ways are for donors to coordinate, and whether we should be giving now or saving for the future.

 

Hiring

GPI is currently hiring three posts, to put our research agenda into practice.

Why work at GPI?

By working with GPI, you can have great impact on the world by contributing both to immediately answering foundational questions about how to do the most good and to building the groundwork for improved global decision making. You’ll be part of a close-knit team who all care about getting detailed and reliable answers as to improve the world most. You’ll be based in a stimulating office shared with the Future of Humanity Institute and the Centre for Effective Altruism, where there are frequent joint seminars and a many opportunities for collaboration.

Roles we’re hiring for:

Maternity cover to run operations (March-Sep 2018):

What is the job? This role will ensure the smooth set up of GPI by managing all operational aspects. Crucially, it will allow GPI to maintain momentum at the stage of coming into existence, and thereby not only facilitate excellent research during the period of the role, but also enable more going forward. Due to the early stage GPI is at, the position is fairly flexible. It’s likely to include the following: fundraising, liaising with Oxford University, overseeing processes such as finding new office space, managing GPI’s finances, supporting visiting researchers and setting up seminars and work in progress groups. There may be opportunities for longer-term involvement with GPI following this 6-month period, for individuals who are a good fit to the Institute. The role reports to the Director of GPI, and has a salary range of £31,604 – £33,518 p.a.. The title of the position is Researcher. If you’d like to know more about the role, see this page and please reach out to Michelle Hutchinson who currently holds the position.

Who are we looking for? For this role, we need someone who cares deeply about effective altruism and global priorities research, and who has excellent organisational skills. They also need good communications skills (both interpersonal and in writing), and an analytic mindset. It would be beneficial to have either a strong background in operations or in academia (for example, having recently finished or currently undertaking a Philosophy or Economics PhD). The ideal candidate would have experience fundraising and managing budgets. In particular, you should apply if you’re excited about getting a new project off the ground and about facilitating important research.

You can apply here, and the deadline is 12pm GMT Jan 4th 2018. Applicants for the post must submit a CV, a supporting statement and three references. The post is visa eligible.

 

Research Fellow in Philosophy and Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy (Each 4 years, starting Sep 2018)

What are the jobs? Research posts in Philosophy, the focus of which is research on global priorities and publishing that research in top academic journals. At least 50% of each researcher’s time should be spent on topics directly related to the GPI research agenda. You would participate in shaping the research agenda, and would attend and present at GPI seminars and work in progress groups. You would be based in the Oxford Philosophy department, which is one of the largest and highest ranked in the world. There is no requirement for teaching or other non-research duties, though we would endeavour to find teaching for those who would like to do some. The posts report to the Director of GPI, Prof Hilary Greaves. The Research Fellow in Philosophy is a Grade 7 job, salary range £31,604 – £33,518. The Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy is a Grade 8 job, salary range £39,992 – £42,418. Although the posts are fixed term for 4 years, we hope to build a long-term team. Therefore, if researchers turn out to be excellent fits for the roles, we would hope to provide them with new contracts in future.

Who are we looking for? These roles require a PhD in Philosophy (completed or near completion). The PhD need not be directly related to the research agenda, but you must be able to show genuine interest in high-impact research related to the research agenda, and to effective altruism and global priorities research in general. We are looking for people who care deeply about having an impact with their work, and who are able to produce excellent, independent research. The successful candidates are likely to be producing work of a quality similar to that of a good graduate student in a top department. To apply for the Senior Research Fellow position, you should already have a strong publication record. If you are currently completing or have recently (within 1 or 2 years) completed your PhD, you will likely be a better fit for the Research Fellow position.

Please apply through these links: Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow, by 12pm GMT Jan 4th, 2018. Applicants for both posts must submit a CV, a supporting statement, three references as well as a sample of your best philosophical work. Short-listed candidates will have to submit a research proposal. For more details, see the GPI website or get in touch.

The posts are visa eligible.

Comments (9)

Comment author: SiebeRozendal 18 December 2017 03:46:08PM *  2 points [-]

Very exciting to read about this, especially the research agenda! I will definitely consult it when deciding on a topic for my master's thesis in philosophy.

I have a few questions about the strategy (Not sure if this is the best medium for these questions, but I didn't know where else);

  • a) Are you planning to be the central hub of EA-relevant academics?
  • b) What do you think about the Santa Fe Institute's model of a core group of resident academics, and a larger group of affiliated researchers who regularly visit?
  • c) Are you planning on incorporating more fields in the future, such as behavioural economics or complexity theory, and how do you decide on where to expand in?
  • d) Where can I find more information about GPI's strategy, and are you planning on publishing it to the EA Forum?

Btw, on p. 26 of the agenda there's an unfinished sentence: "How important is the distinction between ‘sequence’ thinking and ‘cluster’ thinking? What’s "

Comment author: Michelle_Hutchinson 21 December 2017 05:02:42PM *  2 points [-]

Glad to hear you're finding it useful!

a) Yes, that's the plan

b) We haven't decided on our model yet. Right now, we have a number of full-time academics, a number of research associates who attend seminars and collaborate with the full-time crew, and research research visitors coming periodically. Having researchers visit from other institutions seems useful for bringing in new ideas, getting to collaborate more closely than one could online, and having the visitors take back elements of our work to their home institutions. I would guess in future it would make sense to have at least some researchers who visit periodically, as well as people coming just as a one-off. But I couldn't say for sure at the moment.

c) Yes, we are. Behavioural economics is already something we've thought a little about. Our reason for not expanding into more subjects at the moment is the difficulty of building thoroughly interdisciplinary groups within academia. As a small example, GPI is based in the Philosophy Department at Oxford, which isn't ideal for hiring Economists, who would prefer to be based in the Economics department. Given that, and the close tie in the past between EA and philosophy, we see a genuine risk of GPI/EA being thought of as 'philosophy plus' rather than truly multi/interdisciplinary. For that reason, we're starting with just one other discipline, and trying to build strong roots there. At the same time, we're trying to remain cognisant of other disciplines likely to be relevant, and the work that's going on there. (As an example in psychology, Lucius Caviola has been publishing interesting work both on speciesism and on how to develop a better scale for measuring moral traits EAs might be interested in.)

d) The best source of information is our website. I do plan on putting occasional updates on the EA forum, but as our work output will largely be academic papers, we're unlikely to publish them on here.

Thanks for the heads up!

Comment author: sdspikes 16 December 2017 05:04:09AM 2 points [-]

It looks like these all require relocating to Oxford, is that accurate?

Comment author: Michelle_Hutchinson 16 December 2017 09:12:41PM 1 point [-]

Yes, that's right. For the researcher roles, you would at least need to be in Oxford during term time. For the operations role, it would important to be there for essentially the whole period.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 14 December 2017 11:49:40PM 2 points [-]

This is all very exciting. Just fyi, the application links for the research fellow and senior research fellow that you mention in your last paragraph are broken.

Comment author: Michelle_Hutchinson 15 December 2017 12:15:53PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the heads up! I think this is a browser issue with the uni website. It actually works for me on Chrome and Edge, but others have found they don't work on Chrome, but do work on Safari. Would you mind trying a different browser and seeing if that works?

Comment author: tobiaspulver 15 December 2017 03:24:07PM 5 points [-]

They also work for me, using Firefox.

But what I really wanted to say is that the reserach agenda looks great! I'm of course especially excited about the potential research projects mentioned in the section "The Value of the Future" :) Great to see that these questions are getting more attention!

I've shared the post with EA group leaders in the German-speaking community.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 16 December 2017 12:38:14AM 3 points [-]

Totally agree. I combed through the research agenda and thought there was loads of cool stuff there.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 16 December 2017 12:37:46AM 0 points [-]

Yeah, works with explorer but not chrome...