Jonathan Rowson

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Jonathan Rowson is co-founder and director at Perspectiva, Essayist, Scottish Londoner, an author of 5 books, father of sons, and Chess Grandmaster.

About: A chess Grandmaster from Scotland, Jonathan Rowson is the co-founder and the director of Perspectiva, a research institute based in London seeking to highlight the importance of the connections between systems, souls, and society in a range of complex problems. He was formerly the director of the Royal Society of the Arts’ Social Brain Center, where, over the course of six years, he published a range of influential reports on behavior change, climate change, and spirituality.

Educated at the Aberdeen Grammar School, Dr. Rowson traveled widely as a chess professional before going to Keble College, Oxford, and earning a first-class degree in politics, philosophy, and economics. He spent three more years as a chess professional before going on to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education as a master’s student studying mind, brain, and education. He returned to the United Kingdom to complete a Ph.D. in the social sciences at Bristol University in 2008, with a thesis on the concept of wisdom. While working on his doctorate, he won the British Chess Championship in three consecutive years (2004-6) and in 2008 he was part of the analytical team of World Champion Viswanathan Anand.

In 2018 he was awarded an Open Society Fellowship which led to "a loss of liberal innocence" and an influential "Open Letter to the Human Rights Movement". He is also a research fellow at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity at the University of Surrey, where he supports the center’s meanings and moral framings strand of inquiry and published on the idea of Bildung. Rowson is the author of three books on chess as well as Spiritualise: Cultivating Spiritual Sensibility to Address 21st Century Challenges, published by RSA/Perspectiva in 2017. In 2019 his memoir connecting chess and life The Moves that Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life, was published by Bloomsbury. Dr. Rowson recently published an essay providing an overview of the world's predicament from Perspectiva's Perspective called "Tasting the Pickle: Ten flavors of meta-crisis and the appetite for a new civilization." He is also working on currently working on an academic book for Palgrave Macmillan called The Seven Dimensions of Climate Change: Rethinking the World's Toughest Problem. His writing has been published by, for instance, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The New York Times and Aeon magazine.