Berggruen Institute

Berggruen Institute
Founder Nicolas Berggruen
Type think tank
Key people


Website Berggruen Institute

The Berggruen Institute (formerly Berggruen Institute on Governance) is an independent, non-partisan think tank which develops ideas to shape political and social institutions.

Mission Statement

The Institute’s mission is to “develop foundational ideas and, through them, shape political and social institutions for the 21st Century.” It’s self declared mission is to foster new ideas and challenge assumptions in “the age of technology and globalization… critical analysis of our most fundamental beliefs and the systems founded on them is required.”[2]


The Berggruen Institute was founded in 2010 by Nicolas Berggruen. Formerly known as the Berggruen Institute on Governance, the Institute launched various projects devoted to proposing and implementing new ideas of governance. Today the Institute is composed of the Berggruen Governance Center and the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center.[3]

Berggruen Governance Center

The Berggruen Governance Center is dedicated to the design and implementation of new ideas of good governance relevant to the common challenges of globalization in the 21st century. This is primarily being done through three projects: the 21st Century Council, the Council for the Future of Europe, and the Think Long Committee for California.[4]

21st Century Council

The 21st Century Council brings together former heads of state, global thinkers and entrepreneurs to address the challenges arising as power shifts from Western-dominated globalization to a multipolar world. The Council is devoted to global governance reform with the aim to “build on a convergence of interests in order to create a community of interests.”[5]

Initially formed as a shadow G-20, the Council presented its recommendations to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in 2011 prior to the G-20 Summit in Cannes, as well as to President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and his successor Enrique Pena Nieto in 2012 prior to the G-20 Summit in Mexico.

In November 2013, the Council held its first “Understanding China” conference in Beijing with President Xi Jinping of China. A second meeting was held in November 2015. The Council met with Chinese officials including State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying, and the deputy head of CCPPD, Lu Wei.

The council is chaired by former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo and includes thinkers and luminaries like Nouriel Roubini, Hugh White, Nicolas Berggruen, Paul Keating, Henry Kissinger, Jared Cohen, Nathan Gardels, Shaukat Aziz, Dambisa Moyo, Eric Schmidt, Felipe Gonzalez. .[.[6]

The Council for the Future of Europe

The Council for the Future of Europe is a committee engaged in research, debate and advocacy to move forward the project of a united Europe. The key theme of the Council is “Europe is the solution, not the problem”[7] and it advocates not only a fiscal and political union within Europe but also the engagement of European citizens. One of the ways that the Council implements its ideas is through “town hall” meetings[8] and seminars to provide a forum for Council members and European leaders to bring their ideas to bear on the public. Past meetings have been held in Berlin, Paris, Madrid, and Brussels.

In May 2013, the Council held a “town hall” meeting endorsed by the French President Francois Hollande, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and Italian labor minister. The Council and Germany’s labor minister, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed an investment, training, and jobs program for Europe. The program eventually became a part of European policy in January 2015 when European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed the 315 billion euro Investment Plan.[9]

The Think Long Committee for California

The Think Long Committee for California aims to offer a comprehensive approach for repairing and renovating California's broken system of governance while proposing policies and institutions vital for the state's long-term future. The Think Long Committee for California has involved a politically bi-partisan board from the outset.

In November 2011, the Think Long Committee published a report, A Blueprint to Renew California.[10] The report recommended the devolution of power to local governments and school districts, reform of the democracy initiative process to ensure greater consideration of measures proposed by the public, establishment of a “rainy day” fund for economic downturns, a body of long-term oversight to balance the short-term, special-interest character of the elected legislature, and modernization of California’s tax system.

In 2014, the Committee formed a coalition of 30 labor, business, and civil rights groups to forge SB 1253, “The Initiative Transparency Act,” which was eventually approved by Governor Jerry Brown on September 28, 2014.[11] SB 1253 allows lawmakers and proponents to make changes, corrections and compromises before ballots go to the voters. The law also pushes the Secretary of State to feature the top funders of proposed initiatives in online ballot materials.

The Think Long Committee also joined Governor Jerry Brown during the November 4th, 2014 election to approve Proposition 2, “The Rainy Day Fund.” Under this measure, a small percentage of revenue will be put aside every year to pay the state’s debt and safeguard against economic downturns.[12]

Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center

The Philosophy and Culture Center launched in September 2015 with the mission to help bridge cultural divides, particularly between the East and the West and to foster the development of new ideas.[13] According to its website, the center is committed to explore the origins and development of thought; clarify consensus and divergence among different philosophical traditions; and stimulate new developments within and across traditions, as well as develop new and original philosophical thinking. The themes the Center focuses on include: The Individual and the World; Harmony and Freedom; Equality and Hierarchy; and Humans and Technology.

The center's mission is fulfilled through its three main programs: the Berggruen Fellowship Program, the Berggruen Philosophy Prize, and the Berggruen Ideas Competition.

Global Fellowship Program

The Fellowship Program is a two-year program that gives scholars the opportunity to study at academic institutions all over the world.[14] The fellowship results in symposia, video and written materials including articles and books. The Program also supports research at the University of Southern California (USC) Brain and Creativity Institute under Dr. Antonio Damasio.

The academic institutions include: Stanford University's Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Harvard University, Oxford University, New York University, Tsinghua University, and Peking University.

Berggruen Philosophy Prize

The Berggruen Prize for Philosophy honors a living thinker whose ideas are of basic importance for contemporary life. It calls attention to the role of ideas, of deep and careful thought, and with them humanistic scholarship and social research. The inaugural Berggruen Prize was awarded to Charles Taylor for his contributions that have "fundamentally shaped public discussion of the nature of multiculturalism, secularism and contemporary religious life."[15]

The Berggruen Philosophy Prize carries a cash award of $1 million. The honoree will be invited to present and discuss his or her work in a major lecture and a special symposium held within a year of the announcement of the award. Nominations of thinkers from all languages, religions and/or philosophical traditions are welcome. The deadline to nominate is in August of each year.[16]

An independent Jury is responsible for selecting the Prize laureate. In 2016, the Jury members are:

Berggruen Ideas Competition

The Berggruen Ideas Competition will be organized annually to identify new thinking for the modern era. The goal of the competition is to source new, fundamental thinking that will shape the future and encourage applicants to develop, disseminate, and implement those ideas. The first competition is expected to take place in early 2017.

The WorldPost

The WorldPost is a partnership between The Huffington Post and the Berggruen Institute featuring news coverage, commentary and analysis from around the globe.[17] Featured contributors and interviews have included Yo-Yo Ma, Orhan Pamuk, Craig Venter, Nadine Gordimer, and Jonathan Franzen. It launched in Davos, Switzerland in January 2014.

Board of Directors

The Institute's board members include Shaukat Aziz, Daniel Bell, Nicolas Berggruen, Jared Bluestein, David Bonderman, Juan Luis Cebrián, Ray Chambers, Geoffrey Cowan, Mohamed El-Erian, Nathan Gardels, Amy Gutmann, Arianna Huffington, Mary Klein, Margaret Levi, Dawn Nakagawa, and Ernesto Zedillo.


The Berggruen Institute has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Berlin, and Zurich.


External links

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