Science fiction writer Ted Chiang to join Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang

The University of Notre Dame has announced that Ted Chiang, award-winning science fiction writer, will join the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) as an artist in residence during the 2020-21 academic year. Known for critically acclaimed stories such as “Tower of Babylon” and “Story of Your Life,” which was adapted into the science fiction film “Arrival,” Chiang will spend three one-week periods throughout the fall and spring semesters on campus. 

“Ted Chiang is one of the best science fiction writers of his generation. In 2020-21, NDIAS is recruiting a dream team of scholars from around the country to work collaboratively on our Nature of Trust Project. As artist in residence, Chiang will help us to think more imaginatively about the ethical implications of this important research,” said Meghan Sullivan, director of the NDIAS and the Rev. John A. O’Brien Collegiate Professor of Philosophy. “NDIAS believes in the power of research, creativity and collaboration to help us generate new insights on deeply perplexing questions, advancing the common good in the process.” 

Chiang will participate in a collaborative two-day workshop presented by the NDIAS and the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC). Throughout the event, he will discuss how technical researchers and artists can work together to develop morally significant options for engaging with technology. Additionally, as part of his residency, Chiang will engage with Notre Dame faculty on campus and participate in NDIAS weekly seminars. These seminars will give Chiang the opportunity to discuss his work in progress with NDIAS fellows, students and invited guests. 

“We are excited to offer a two-day workshop featuring Ted Chiang, where he will lead a discussion that explores what kind of future is possible as new technology develops,” said Mark McKenna, acting director of ND-TEC and the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law. “The goal of the event is to foster conversations about technology and ethics by helping us imagine what is possible and also addressing current preparations and needs for the future.”

Chiang will also talk with undergraduate students throughout his residency. Students will have an opportunity to engage with Chiang during a one-credit course about his and other science fiction writings taught by Sullivan and McKenna. First-year students enrolled in Sullivan’s course God and the Good Life will read “Hell is the Absence of God,” and Chiang will discuss the story with students in a question-and-answer session. 

The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty fellows, top doctoral candidates and undergraduate scholars to study questions that require a joint focus, benefit from sustained research and discussion, and advance our understanding on core issues that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives. To learn more, visit

Contact: Kristian Olsen, fellowships, outreach and operations program manager, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study,​​​​​​​, 574-631-2830; @NotreDameIAS

Originally published by Brandi Wampler at on Nov. 14.