A new opportunity for select undergraduates to work with The Center for Practical Ethics. Get involved in our research and connect with external organizations through our Policy Talks event and more.
Research + Policy
Are you interested in exploring solutions to real-world problems? The Center for Practical Ethics's newly-created Circle Fellows program gives you an opportunity to do just that. We will select a small and exclusive cohort of students each year to help us with our policy research and proposals. You will be on the front lines of ethical policy white papers, recommendations, presentations, and events.
Circle Fellows are comprised of our top-performing students and are presented with numerous opportunities to develop their skills and become leaders in the world of ethical policy. Students not only assist with policy research and development but also are invited to assist with our annual Policy Talks event.
Want to know more?
If you are dedicated to a better tomorrow, to shaping the future and driving positive change, reach out to us today.
"The inaugural group of Circle Fellows will find their place among the top-performing students at our university. They will assist us with research and policy development, as idea generators and drafters. They will also help us with our annual Policy Talks event so that legislators, business leaders, federal and state regulators, academics, and other leaders know that our fellows have the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the complex landscape of ethical decision-making and research excellence."
—Deborah Mower, Director of The Center for Practical Ethics
Learn more about Policy Talks
Why be a fellow?
Circle Fellows receive guidance directly from TCPE staff and learn invaluable research skills. Their research journeys on each year's Policy Talks topic also provide an incredible amount of technical information about particular topic areas including Artificial Intelligence, drone technology, sustainability, and (of course) ethics.
At monthly lunch gatherings, Circle Fellows meet with each other and TCPE staff for a 'lunch and learn' style meal. This time allows our staff to ensure that fellows are successfully continuing their research and policy development work and provides the chance to cement bonds that will last well after graduation.
It's never too early to start developing your professional network. Our work intersects with industry, government, and academic leaders of all stripes. That includes our events and focus groups where we investigate and develop policy as well as presentations to clients such as regulators and business people.
Are there any requirements?
Because we rely on Circle Fellows to represent TCPE at important gatherings and to conduct top-tier research, we are highly selective. We show strong preference for students have taken our Policy Talks Research Seminar, though there are no formal prerequisites. It all begins with an email letting us know you're interested.
Circle Fellows are expected to attend monthly lunch and learns as well as regularly interface with TCPE staff about their research projects. In addition, they are highly encouraged to assist TCPE with our Policy Talks event and to serve as moderators for our civil discourse programs.
Policy Talks Research Seminar
Each year, we will offer a class in conjunction with the Honors College that focuses on that year's Policy Talks topic. Students who take this course are given preference among Circle Fellow applications in part because they will have already studied the upcoming topic closely and will be better positioned to contribute to discussions and research surrounding it. We encourage students to use the policy proposals developed as part of this course as the basis for their honors thesis.
This year's class: A.I., Narratives, and Social Engineering
Policy Talks 2024 addresses the potential, the ethics, and the policy of the emerging technology of narrative artificial intelligence, i.e., computers which detect and/or generates narratives. Some have thought that the logic of narratives is definitively beyond the scope of artificial intelligence. Recent developments have cast doubt on this limitation, and yet even the impressive generative-text capacity of GPT palpably fails to really grasp extended narrative. But computer scientists engaging with the field of narratology are making progress on other fronts.
Can AI catch up, and what are the implications if it can? What could governments and corporations do with virtually-unlimited capacity to detect, build, and distribute narratives across the internet?
Fall semester of 2024 we'll take our first official look at these questions in "Honors 399: AI, Narratives, and Social Engineering." UM students of all disciplines are invited to explore this new AI horizon and consider joining our first cohort of Circle Fellows.