Santa Monica’s Berggruen Institute, headed by billionaire investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen, on Wednesday announced the launch of a new division of the think tank that will be dedicated to examining different cultures.

The goal of the addition, dubbed the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center, is to expand on the political work done by the Berggruen Governance Center to better understand the philosophical and cultural roots of various governments.

“The kind of governance work we’ve done from the very beginning is both intellectual and on the structural side,” Berggruen said. “We looked at other systems on other sides of the world to see if we could learn from them. … So it was very natural for us to go from the political side to see what is behind (governance).”

Berggruen, sometimes known as the “homeless billionaire,” spends much of his time in Los Angeles and ranks No. 38 on the Business Journal’s list of the Wealthiest Angelenos with an estimated net worth of $1.57 billion.

The Santa Monica institute also announced on Wednesday a $1 million prize that will be awarded annually to “a living thinker whose ideas have deeply influenced our world.” The first Berggruen Philosophy Prize is expected to be presented next fall, according to the institute. An independent jury will determine the recipient of the award each year.

The new philosophy center will also sponsor a two-year fellowship that will connect participants with opportunities to live, work and study at various universities in the United States, China and the United Kingdom.

UCLA is among the initial partner schools participating in the fellowship program, the Berggruen Institute said in a press release. The program, however, will also support research at USC’s brain and creativity institute.

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