Applications for the 2020 Summer Research Fellowship have now closed.

Impact of Covid-19 on the fellowship: we are currently considering contingency plans for the summer research fellowship, in case Covid-19 makes it unsafe for the fellowship to run in person. Options include delaying the fellowship, and running it remotely. We will communicate in more detail about this with shortlisted applicants, and make further decisions in May.

The Future of Humanity Institute is excited to launch its Summer Research Fellowship. FHI is seeking research fellows for summer 2020 to pursue research aimed at improving the long-term future. This is an opportunity to work with researchers and make original contributions in a young and exciting field.

Participants will likely take the lead on a project, with mentorship and support from a more experienced researcher on FHI’s Research Scholarship Programme. The expected output is a research article or similar on a question relevant to the long-term future.

We expect to offer six to twelve summer research fellowships. We aim to have all fellows stay in Oxford for the six weeks from July 13th, but are open to considering different dates for exceptional candidates.

Candidates we’re looking for

Successful candidates will show an aptitude for independent research, good written communication skills, relevant knowledge, and an understanding of our work. Applicants will be considered with academic backgrounds ranging from pre-undergrad to those with a doctorate.

Further details

The fellowship will take place at the Future of Humanity Institute’s office, which we share with the Centre for Effective Altruism. The fellowship will be unpaid, but we will cover travel to Oxford, and offer a stipend towards living expenses. We will likely be able to provide a limited number of visas for exceptional non-EU applicants, so we welcome applications from all over the world.

This year’s project leads are Eliana Lorch, a Research Scholar at the Future of Humanity Institute, and Rose Hadshar, Research Scholars Project Manager.

How to apply

Applicants should prepare a research proposal of 300-500 words. The audience is the research team at the Future of Humanity Institute. The proposal should:

  • Briefly explain your research question. This could be a specific research question, a clear statement of confusion in a specific area, a motivating puzzle, or something else.
  • Set out your current thinking on the potential impact of your question, and why you think it might be valuable and not valuable.
  • Suggest how, concretely, you would go about pursuing this proposal with a month’s work.
  • Flag your biggest uncertainties or concerns with the proposal and where you’re least compelled by your own idea.

Aim to be to-the-point and clear, and feel free to use structures (sections, bullet-point lists) which facilitate this.

A successful candidate will not necessarily work on their proposed question, if we agree that there is a better one to address. Two key reasons why we are asking for a research proposal are that it tests a lot of relevant skills at once, and that it is independently a valuable exercise to undertake (for people considering research in this area). We think that the act of creating a proposal is useful for causing more awareness and nuance around doing research, even when that proposal isn’t then followed in its concrete written form. In assessing the proposals, we will be looking for:

  • Good judgment about which directions to pursue
  • Clarity of language, communication, and thinking
  • Generating interesting and thoughtful ideas
  • Ability to think and work independently
  • Intellectual ability and curiosity
  • Relevance of the research question to improving the long-term future.

Writing a research proposal is a relatively involved task, and including thinking-time we’d expect people to spend between 3 and 6 hours on it. (We also understand that there’s a lot of interpersonal variation in time spent on such a task among otherwise qualified candidates. For example, native English speakers might need less time to edit their language for clarity than others. We think that in some rare cases an otherwise qualified applicant might spend up to a couple of days to find and clearly express a research idea.) We are not expecting the proposals to be perfect or ready-to-go; we would like to see how you think about it. Once the content we’ve asked for has been expressed clearly, we therefore don’t think that investing more time into the research proposal will improve our evaluation.

We are an equal opportunity organisation and we value diversity. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, colour, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability status. We are happy to make any reasonable accommodations necessary to welcome all to our workplace. Please let us know if there are any special provisions we should make which would allow you to participate fully in the application process. Please contact srf@philosophy.ox.ac.uk to discuss any adjustments that may be required.

Please send to srf@philosophy.ox.ac.uk:

  1. Your 300-500 word research proposal as a PDF
  2. Your CV as a PDF

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Applicants should include details of their availability in the email if they won’t be available for the full period from July 13th to 21st August.

The deadline for application is 4PM GMT on 22nd March. Originally we said that interviews would likely be conducted in person or over Skype on 1st-3rd April, and final decisions made by 10th April. Due to the volume of applications and to the illness of one of the selection committee members, we now expect this timeline to be pushed out by somewhere between 2 days and 2 weeks. We will keep candidates informed.

If you have any questions about this role, please contact srf@philosophy.ox.ac.uk.

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