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SPEAK Fellowship

Register for the programme

Applications for the SPEAK fellowship in Semester 2 are open until January 29th for all students at the University of St Andrews. Sessions will be run both online and in-person, so you do not need to be in St Andrews to take part.

The Social and Personal Effective Altruism Knowledge (SPEAK) fellowship is a ten-week introduction to Effective Altruism, culminating in high-impact career planning. If you're new to EA, this is a great place to start!

You'll be paired with one of our mentors, and each week consists of readings and discussions about EA-related topics. Our curriculum's overarching theme is about the world's most pressing problems, and what we can do to solve them. As a result, the readings cover a wide range of topics, including global health, tools of rationality, biosecurity, and long-termism. 

Discussions will consist of either 2-1 discussions with your mentor, or group discussions with fellow participants. Between the readings and the meetings, we expect SPEAK to be a 2 - 3 hour weekly commitment.

Spacecraft in Orbit

Programme Curriculum & Readings

Topic 1: Introduction to Effective Altruism

This week, we'll be familiarising ourselves with Effective Altruism (EA) – what it is, how it fits into the world, and what impact it can have.  

Topic 2: Global Health and Poverty

As you’ve already familiarised yourself with the ideas and motivations behind Effective Altruism, we are now moving onto a specific, though very broad cause area: Global Health and Poverty.

Topic 3: Tools of Rationality

This week we'll look at how to improve our ability to think and reason, especially when facing complex problems.

Topic 4: Animal Welfare

An important cause area in Effective Altruism, animal welfare is very great in scale and relatively neglected. The largest subset of causes in this area is in factory farming, as it entails the largest number of animals.

Topic 5: Introduction to Long-Termism

The theme for this week is long-termism, which is the idea that the most important impacts of our actions lie in how they affect the long-run future.

Topic 6: AI, Biosecurity and Existential Risks

Trying to prevent anthropogenic existential risks, or risks caused or influenced by humans, is one of the focusses of EA. This week we'll look at some concrete sources and examples of these, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), biological risks and nuclear war. 

Topic 7: Uncertainties in EA

We now move on to exploring uncertainties in the wider EA community. It’s important to identify such uncertainties, as this helps signpost what topics need further research and consideration. The resources on the right are grouped into two distinct areas, namely uncertainties in cause areas, and uncertainties in research and methodology.

Topic 8: Meta-Charities and Meta-Causes

This week’s theme is about meta-level concepts, defined here as ideas that are big-picture abstractions. The readings are organised into two categories. Firstly, we will look at meta-charities, which are organisations that evaluate and support charities. Then, we will examine meta-causes, which indirectly support one or more cause areas. 

Topic 9: Career Foundations

What makes a fulfilling career? The key idea for this week is on how to use your career to have a positive impact on the world.

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