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Fung Global Fellows Program

Annual Research Topics

Current Research Topic

2022-23: Sustainable Futures

During the academic year 2022-23 the Fung Global Fellows Program theme will once again be "Sustainable Futures." The program will examine varied notions and workable practices of sustainability.  We define sustainability expansively.  What does economics teach us about inclusive growth, equality of opportunity, minimizing negative externalities, and the costs of low growth for job creation and skill acquisition?  How can countries, individually and collectively, leverage ecological sciences and engineering to scale energy sources that are both sustainable and practical, encourage environmentally sound consumption patterns, promote resource renewal and protect biodiversity?  What would sustainable global integration look like, and how would countries get there?  How is understanding the behavior of complex systems crucial to sustainability?  How can architecture and engineering build residences, workplaces, cities, and exurbs in smarter ways?  What can countries learn from sociology about supporting family structures, kin networks, and community institutions?  How might information science and technology render virtual public spheres civil while keeping them open, and promote a sense of shared truth?  How can societies use political science to improve governance, raise political participation, and manage a wide diversity of views that healthy societies must have?  Above all, how can countries create and propagate consensus narratives of sustainability that balance interests?

Faculty Director | Elke U. Weber - Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

 
Future Research Topics
2023-24: Sustainable Futures

In 1987, the United Nations’ Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  Subsequently the UN codified 17 more specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed to bring peace and prosperity to the lives of all present and future people around the world by 2030. SDG 13, for example, calls for mitigating the hazardous man-made effects of climate change and SDGs 14 and 15 call for more sustainable practices in using the earth’s natural resources in the oceans and on land, respectively.  Unfortunately, human behavior and formal and informal institutions at the individual and collective level have not moved us closer to many of these goals. A livable climate is just one of nine planetary boundaries (including biodiversity and freshwater availability) that human behavior is putting into jeopardy, while also distributing material resources like income and energy access in increasingly inequitable ways, both within and between countries.

While technological, economic, and sociopolitical solutions to advance a sustainable future exist, vast status-quo bias, personal and organizational inertia, and active opposition by vested interests prevent their implementation.  Finding ways to change the behavior of individuals, households, and public and private sector organizations to better align with the human species’ long-term existence and well-being on planet Earth is an “all-hands-on-deck” challenge that requires cooperation and creative collaboration between a broad range of social and physical sciences, the humanities, engineering, and more.  The Fung Global Fellows Program encourages early-career academics from outside the United States to bring their disciplinary perspectives and geographical or sectoral concerns about sustainable futures to Princeton and to work with each other and existing research initiatives at Princeton to advance their research goals. 

Some relevant centers, institutes, departments, and programs at Princeton are listed here.

Faculty Director | Elke U. Weber - Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

Please visit our Call for Applications webpage for more information about the application process and requirements.

 

Past Research Topics

2021-22: Sustainable Futures

We define sustainability expansively.  What does economics teach us about inclusive growth, equality of opportunity, minimizing negative externalities, and the costs of low growth for job creation and skill acquisition?  How can countries, individually and collectively, leverage ecological sciences and engineering to scale energy sources that are both sustainable and practical, encourage environmentally sound consumption patterns, promote resource renewal and protect biodiversity?  What would sustainable global integration look like, and how would countries get there?  How is understanding the behavior of complex systems crucial to sustainability?  How can architecture and engineering build residences, workplaces, cities, and exurbs in smarter ways?  What can countries learn from sociology about supporting family structures, kin networks, and community institutions?  How might information science and technology render virtual public spheres civil while keeping them open, and promote a sense of shared truth?  How do changes in environmental quality and access to vaccines affect those that bear the heaviest burden of pollution and disease? How can societies use political science to improve governance, raise political participation, and manage a wide diversity of views that healthy societies must have?  Above all, how can countries create and propagate consensus narratives of sustainability that balance interests? 

Faculty Acting Director | Stephen Kotkin - Director of PIIRS, John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairsin the Department of History, and the Director of the Program in History and the Practice of Diplomacy.

2019-20 and 2020-21: Thinking Globally

How people have thought about the planet has informed the institutions, norms, and policies that have pulled it together and torn it apart.  For centuries, ideas of free trade, human rights or global governance have framed cooperation and competition, order and disorder.  Such ideas have also spawned border-crossing movements, from campaigns to end slavery to commitments to reduce carbon emissions.  In turn, global thinking and action have often reinforced commitments to national ideas and efforts to curb global exchange.  The goal of this research theme is to explore how ideas framed the understanding of interests and the making of institutions that have yielded commonness and conflict across and within borders.  We also want to understand how these ideas and practices came into being through scientific networks, foundations, and think tanks.  In addition, we will examine rival world ideas that have challenged prevailing orthodoxies.  The goal of the 2019-20 Fung Global Fellows cohort will be to explore the ways people learned to rely on or to reject strangers far away, as well as to imagine how global relationships came to be and could be different.  

Faculty Directors: Jeremy Adelman, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History (2019-20) and Sandra Bermann, Cotsen Professor in the Humanities. Professor of Comparative Literature (2020-21).

2018-19: Interdependence

Food, clothes, entertainment, and the security and health of the planet depend on what distant people do for, with, and against others.  Sometimes, recognition of interdependence has led to cooperation, other times to conquest or competition, and frequently to a mixture of all three.  Oftentimes, new social identities and movements, national, regional, and religious, emerge in response to rising interdependence and the convergences and inequities it has produced.  The goal of the 2018-19 Fung Global Fellows cohort was to explore the ways people learned to rely on or to reject strangers far away, as well as to imagine how global relationships came to be and could be different.  

Faculty Director: Jeremy Adelman, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History

2017-18: The Culture and Politics of Resentment

Resentment is a powerful emotion for expressing culture and politics. Experiences and memories of humiliation, oppression, and marginalization have stimulated emotions of resentment, and produced compelling demands for political inclusion and justice around the world. Alternatively, rage against what is seen as the “tyranny of the minority,” inequality, the corruption and aloofness of elites, the “foreign,” and the illegitimate have generated powerful populist upsurges against the perceived enemies of a homogeneous body of “the people.”  The goal of the 2017-18 Fung Global Fellows cohort was to explore the full range of phenomena involved in the culture and politics of resentment, the conditions that produce such sentiments, and the projects they advance.  Scholars whose work addressed this topic in any historical period or region of the world and from any disciplinary background in the humanities and social sciences were invited to apply. 

Faculty Director: Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History

2016-17: International Society - Institutions and Actors in Global Governance

The growth of international organizations and transnational actors has brought about the emergence of a dense international society above the nation-state. Under what circumstances do new international organizations or transnational associations emerge, and when do they expand in their membership and jurisdiction? Does international society function as a constraint on states? How do states and societal actors navigate the complex and overlapping jurisdictions of international organizations? In what ways do international organizations and associations function as distinct cultures or as bureaucracies with their own interests? The 2016-17 cohort of Fung Fellows was to examine the emergence, functioning, and effects of international organizations and transnational associations of all types (state and non-state, focused on a single issue or world region, or examined comparatively) from a cultural, historical, political, sociological, or other perspective. 

Faculty Director: Christina Davis, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

2015-16: Ethnic Politics and Identities

Current events around the world highlighted the role of ethnic politics and identities in shaping domestic and international political arenas. The Fung Global Fellows Program invited scholars whose work explored the causes, narrative modalities, and consequences of the politicization of ethnic, racial, and national divides from a comparative perspective.

Faculty Director: Deborah J. Yashar, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

2014-15: Global Diffusion

The objects of diffusion include specific modes of social categorization (such as “race” in census forms), principles of legitimation (such as democracy), government policies (such as minority quota systems), forms of conflict (such as revolutions), or cultural practices (such as Tango dancing or marrying “in white”). The program invited applications from scholars developing new, innovative ways to study global diffusion processes. Analytically oriented approaches that identified recurring patterns and mechanisms through rigorous comparison of multiple cases or quantitative analysis, with broad geographic (preferably transcontinental) coverage, were of particular interest for this program.

Faculty Director: Andreas Wimmer, Hughes-Rogers Professor of Sociology

2013-14: Languages and Authority

In the program’s inaugural year, the fellows and the program's seminar series focused on how languages interact with political, social, economic, and cultural authority.  Languages can be powerful tools for expressing and asserting authority, yet they also constitute forms of authority in and of themselves (such as in the standardization and uniformity that they impose). Languages as forms of authority are also contested, and language communities have often formed a basis for resisting authority. Possible topics for this cycle included the ways in which languages and language use interact with globalization, empire, decolonization, nation-state formation, nationalism, language policy, language ideology, social stratification, migration, commerce and trade, social and religious movements, and the sociology of knowledge production.

Faculty Director: Michael D. Gordin, Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History