Guest Scholar Program

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Guest Scholar Program is a scholarship initiative meant to give students of color the opportunity to foster their professional and academic career in the field of media and technology policy. The program first began in 2001. Each year doctoral (or other advanced graduate program) students of color are invited to apply for a Guest Scholarship to attend the Annual Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy that takes place at the Aspen Meadows Conference Center in Aspen, Colorado.

This year, the program is pleased to extend the Guest Scholarship to an individual interested in attending the 3rd Annual Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence in Santa Barbara, CA. As a Guest Scholar, students are full participants in roundtable discussions. Scholars have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of competing tensions on important technology issues and get the opportunity to gain a network of professional colleagues.

The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an annual private seminar of business executives, government leaders, and visionaries. It examines the implications of artificially intelligent technologies on societies, governments, communities and individuals, and the new leadership roles that are required.

The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence, February 11-13, 2019

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming fully integrated into our daily lives, bringing to light new efficiencies and innovations for humankind. At the same time, many worry and caution that the advances can have counterweights in certain uses, unintended consequences, or control by bad actors.  This Roundtable, entitled Developing Goals and Metrics for the Good Society, 2040, addresses how society should think about and interact with AI in a way that is socially beneficial, i.e., used for the greater good, and individually useful rather than oppressive.

Past Roundtables have traversed topics from the philosophical to the applied, and have raised deep, fundamental questions on how to guide the trajectory of AI “with meaning and dignity for humans.” This year, the Roundtable will build on these past learnings and aim to move the conversation forward. The Roundtable agenda sets a challenge to envision a purposeful future with AI that reflects principal cultural values.  To achieve this, participants will explore the impact of AI in three pre-identified areas: employment, education and governance (Berkman-Klein Global Dialogue on AI). The goal is to uncover the necessary signposts and metrics needed to achieve such an aspirational future, and that could signal when the path towards that future is going astray.

The meeting of approximately 25 leaders and experts from industry, academia, government and the non-profit sector is scheduled for February 11-13, 2019 at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, California.


The Guest Scholar’s travel and accommodations will be paid for by the Communications and Society Program. Scholars will attend all conference sessions as a full participant in the discussion. She or he will be expected to read the pre-conference materials provided. The scholar will also be asked to write a blog for the Communications and Society Program on a topic of interest after the Conference.


The Guest Scholar should be a U.S. resident and a minority student, based on the definition of minority created by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, or Alaskan Native.

  • Currently enrolled in a Ph.D. or other advanced graduate program at an accredited college or university; and have attained a cumulative GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale (un-weighted).
  • Applicants must provide a statement of interest.
  • Applicants must provide one reference (name, title, phone number, and email).
  • Applicants must provide an unofficial copy of transcripts from currently enrolled university.
  • Applicants must commit to attending the entire conference.

Additional requirements for the 2019 Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence 

  • The student should have a clearly defined interest in computer science and/or engineering as evidenced by published papers, a major research project, or dissertation on the conference topic.
  • Specific interest(s) in machine learning, data science, natural language processing, neural networks, cognitive computing, cognitive science and semantic technologies are welcomed.
  • The student must also demonstrate an interest in the impact of technology on social issues. Candidates with experience in technology policy are highly encouraged to apply.


Friday, December 14th, 2018.




If you have any questions, please contact Dominique Harrison by email at

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