Announcing a predoctoral research programme in economics at the Global Priorities Institute

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Overview

We are excited to announce the GPI Predoctoral Research Programme, a one-to-two-year position for early-career researchers interested in pursuing academic careers in economics to advance the field of global priorities research.

Predoctoral research fellows will spend one to two years in Oxford, depending on their preference, providing research assistance both to senior GPI researchers and to faculty in Oxford’s Department of Economics. Researchers will have access to open plan desk space in the Department of Economics, and will have the opportunity to attend seminars and to enrol in an Economics MPhil graduate option course, subject to approval. More information about the programme can be found on the GPI website.

Motivation for the programme

GPI aims to work toward a world in which large-scale political and philanthropic resource allocation decisions are routinely made on the basis of rigourous academic research into how to do as much good as possible.

We believe that currently mainstream approaches to policy analysis and programme evaluation give insufficient attention to a variety of key considerations, including

  • the comparison of interventions across very different cause areas;
  • the comparison of potential impacts on the size and number of future generations; and
  • the estimation and incorporation of flow-through effects, including those that may persist into the very distant future.

We therefore hope to build an academic field, termed 'global priorities research', populated by world-class researchers applying tools from economics, philosophy, and other disciplines to the many unanswered questions posed by the project of global prioritisation.

Thanks in large part to the effective altruism movement, there are currently many enthusiastic young people with an undergraduate training in economics and an interest in building the field of global priorities research. On the other hand, there do not yet appear to be many senior researchers in economics who engage directly with foundational questions of global prioritisation. The GPI Predoctoral Research Programme is designed in response to this pair of circumstances. Predoctoral research fellows will receive mentorship concerning the development of the global priorities research community, as well as the research training necessary for admittance to a world-class graduate programme in economics.

Should I apply?

The Predoctoral Research Programme requires an undergraduate or master’s degree in economics or a closely related discipline, completed by spring 2019, and evidence of strong research potential. An intention to pursue an academic career in global priorities research is also required. Candidates of all nationalities who meet these criteria are encouraged to apply.

The ideal candidate will have a strong background in mathematics, analytic philosophy and (especially) economics; prior research experience; and close familiarity with the thinking that has already been produced by the effective altruism community.

Those intending to pursue careers in less foundational areas of economic research, such as mainstream development economics or domestic policy analysis, are not encouraged to apply.

I'm an aspiring economics researcher, but this programme isn't right for me at the moment. How else can I get involved?

Current students and researchers at any level are of course more than welcome to work independently on topics listed on the GPI research agenda. You are also welcome to explore global priorities research questions formulated elsewhere, such as on the 'economics' page of the website effectivethesis.com. If you produce a piece of research you think may be relevant to the question of global prioritisation, please let us know!

Economics students interested in entering global priorities research are also encouraged to take coursework, and gain research experience, in the most relevant subfields of economics. In particular, while valuable insights can come from any source, we currently (tentatively) believe that the most promising subfields of economics are microeconomic theory, political economy, the economics of discounting and optimal timing and the economics of catastrophic risk. More generally, we believe that theoretical tools will typically prove more valuable than empirical tools at this stage. This is because the task of creating a framework within which to evaluate impacts on very long timescales allows relatively little directly relevant data.

For current job openings in global priorities research, check out the 80,000 Hours job board.

If you have any questions about the Predoctoral Research Programme, or about getting involved with GPI or global priorities research in any other capacity, please don’t hesitate to email gpi-office@philosophy.ox.ac.uk.

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