We are not yet at a stage where the study of existential risk is established as an academic discipline in its own right. Attempts to move in that direction are warranted by the importance of such research (considering the magnitude of what is at stake). One such attempt took place in Gothenburg, Sweden, during the fall of 2017: an international guest researcher program on existential risk at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, featuring daily seminars and other research activities over the course of two months, with Anders Sandberg serving as scientific leader of the program and Olle Häggström as chief local organizer, and with participants from a broad range of academic disciplines. The nature of this program brought substantial benefits in community building and in building momentum for further work in the field: of which the contributions here are one reflection. The present special issue of Foresight is devoted to research carried out and/or discussed in detail at that program. All in all, the issue collects ten papers that have made it through the peer review process.