Bìguān is a term used in various eastern philosophies and traditions to describe a quiet retreat. Although its origins are sometimes the subject of debate, most scholars agree that bìguān is about eliminating outside distractions to allow for hushed, dedicated focus.
During his tenure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, current SPH-B Dean David Allison suggested a series of days dedicated to proposal development—with as few distractions as possible. A colleague responded that this sounded like bìguān, and although Dean Allison had never heard this term, he was intrigued.
Since 2018, under the guidance of Dean Allison, SPH-B has hosted between three and five annual workshops, reverently referred to as bìguāns, with the goal of supporting faculty and graduate student efforts to write, revise, and submit proposals for project funding. While submitting these proposals is common and expected of many SPH-B faculty and graduate students, it's difficult to find ideal conditions to produce them. An SPH-B bìguān provides all-day dedicated space, silence, and continuous access to a variety of experts for five consecutive weekdays. These experts include grant writing consultants, statisticians, graphic designers, business and budget specialists, and fellow scientists—all of whom offer unrivaled support during the intensive process.