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Global Call for Ideas

The Future
of Being Human 

CIFAR’s third Global Call for Ideas is soliciting proposals for new CIFAR programs related to The Future of Being Human. New program proposals should explore the long term intersection of humans, science and technology, social and cultural systems, and our environment. Our understanding of the world around us, and new insights into individual and societal behaviour, have the potential to provide enormous benefits to humanity and the planet. 

We invite bold proposals from researchers at universities or research institutions that ask new questions about our complex emerging world. We are confronting challenging problems that require a diverse team incorporating multiple disciplines (potentially spanning the humanities, social sciences, arts, physical sciences, and life sciences) to engage in a sustained dialogue to develop new insights, and change the conversation on important questions facing science and humanity.

CIFAR is committed to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. We welcome proposals that include individuals from countries and institutions that are not yet represented in our research community.


The deadline for registration is August 17, 2021.

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The Future of Being Human

How our increasingly interconnected lives shape how we live, the choices we make, and the unanticipated consequences of each.

The pandemic has revealed cracks in a world that was already experiencing multiple crises. It has highlighted deep societal fault lines, and exacerbated inequalities within and between countries, while leading to the retrenchment of multilateralism, the thickening of borders, and revealing the precariousness of a tightly coupled and interconnected global system. At the same time, it has galvanized international scientific cooperation and spurred scientific and technological progress. It has also made us rethink our ethical responsibilities for future generations, norms, and terms of accountability. Humans are at an inflection point. Radical new ways of thinking, coupled with an openness to action, are giving rise to a sense of both optimism and urgency, with a clear emphasis on the role of science for a better future. 

This increasingly complex and dynamic environment raises fundamental questions about the opportunities and limits of being human. Profound and rapid advances in technologies that enhance our human capacities, such as gene editing, algorithms for improving decision making,  and surveillance, have far outpaced our understanding of how to develop, use, and govern them responsibly. New methods and tools augmented by exponentially-growing computational power are opening new areas of enquiry not previously possible. The scale and scope of available data is staggering and still growing; while at the same time, public trust in the traditional institutions gathering and analyzing these data is eroding. 

Looking into the future, this situation forces us to think differently about how we govern, communicate and interact, and to re-evaluate what the essential qualities are that make us human.

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Join Our Global Research Community

CIFAR's research programs bring together international, interdisciplinary researchers who work together for five-year terms.

Programs are led by a director or two co-directors, engage approximately 20-40 fellows and advisors from around the world, and include two or three CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars for two-year terms. 

CIFAR’s current research portfolio spans four theme areas: Life & Health, Earth & Space, Individuals & Society, and Information & Matter.

“CIFAR is a truly remarkable institutional invention. It has already done, and it also promises to do, untold good.”

George Akerlof, University Professor,
Georgetown University

Nobel Laureate in Economics 2001

Researchers benefit from:

  • An unparalleled environment of trust, transparency and knowledge sharing
  • A culture of risk-taking that accelerates discovery and yields breakthroughs across borders and disciplines
  • Dedicated strategy and meeting support that frees researchers to do what they do best
  • Dedicated support on knowledge mobilization to catalyze change in industry, government and society
  • Dedicated support for strategic communications and public engagement 
  • Access to a global network of more than 400 leading researchers from 161 institutions in 18 countries including 100 Canada CIFAR AI Chairs
  • Opportunities to mentor and collaborate with CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars, the next generation of research leaders
  • Access to catalyst funds to accelerate collaboration and outcomes
  • Unrestricted research support for program co-directors and fellows
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Create Impact on a Global Scale

In our nearly 40-year history, CIFAR has made a significant impact on science and humanity. Widely-recognized impacts of CIFAR research programs include:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Role of strong institutions in successful societies
  • Importance of the early years in brain development
  • Endogenous growth theory
  • Advances in superconductivity
  • Socioeconomic determinants of health
  • UN World Happiness and Well Being Report
  • Quantum supremacy
  • Genetic networks underlying human health and disease

The Future of Being Human is our next challenge.

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Deadlines & Resources

August 17, 2021

January 26, 2022

LOI deadline

Spring 2022

LOIs invited to Full Proposal

Fall 2022

Full proposals due

March 2023

New program announcement and celebration

Support Us

CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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