The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) seeks to ignite creative, innovative, and profound research and discovery in the sciences, humanities, and the arts. The Institute for Advanced Study is a site, a concept, and a community dedicated to public and intellectual exchanges across the fields of human endeavor.
The IAS core programs include public events, our Thursdays at Four series, semester and year long residential fellowships for faculty and graduate students, year-long research and creative collaboratives and two year symposia.
IAS residential fellows comprise faculty, graduate students, and outside scholars who spend a semester or year in residence at the IAS. Together they constitute a supportive interdisciplinary intellectual community in which fellows work intensively on their own research and creative projects and meet regularly to discuss their work and exchange ideas.
Each year the IAS supports ten or so Research and Creative Collaboratives. These are self-organized groups engaged in a variety of interdisciplinary projects. Collaboratives are chosen in an annual competition. The conveners submit a short proposal and budget which are reviewed by an IAS Advisory Board committee; the IAS director makes the final award based on its recommendations. Annual R/CC award amounts are generally between $5,000 and $12,000, and include programming and administrative support. Collaborative conveners are responsible for designing and leading the collaborative’s activities—which can involve speakers, workshops, reading groups, or rehearsals for original music, dance, or theater productions. Some groups form to pursue common research interests; others form with a particular object or product in mind, such as developing a cross-disciplinary curriculum in Disability Studies or creating a performance that arises out of active collaborative dialogue between biomechanical scientists and dancers. The expectation is that participants will pursue intellectual and creative activity that bridges disciplines and communities. Faculty report that they have used IAS collaboratives (such as Theorizing Early Modern Studies and Global Sexualities) to recruit graduate students. Some of the collaboratives completed the tasks they set out to do; others found other funding. And some discovered that there was not in fact enough faculty energy to continue with the initial project.
In the Thursdays at Four series we feature an eclectic mix of scholars, artists, and practitioners from diverse disciplines who present in a variety of forms, including lecture, discussion, and performance.
In addition to the presentations and performances connected with Quadrant and the University Symposium, the IAS organized several notable events. Myron Gutmann (Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation) drew national attention with his talk “Questions Without Borders: Why Future Research and Teaching Will Be Interdisciplinary,” which was followed by a roundtable in which University of Minnesota faculty members David Fox (Earth Sciences), J. B. Shank (History), and Dominique Tobbell (History of Medicine) discussed specifics of interdisciplinary research and graduate and undergraduate education. Award-winning poet Ed Bok Lee read from his new collection Whorled and discussed life as a global citizen with Maria Damon (English). Indonesian filmmaker Gotot Prakosa screened and discussed his path-breaking (and originally banned) Kantata Takwa, an incisive, epic combination of rock opera, film-poem, and Islam-infused political protest.
The IAS organizes a University Symposium; each Symposium lasts two years. The theme of the Symposium is designed to catalyze conversations and advance innovative research and creative activity across the University of Minnesota. The Symposium topic is determined by the IAS Advisory Board and then developed by groups of faculty with interests related to the theme. In 2010-12 the topic was “Abundance & Scarcity.” The current 2012-2014 topic is “Site & Incitement.” The IAS holds monthly brown-bag lunches on topics relevant to the Symposium, organizes faculty seminars and curricula on the topic of the Symposium, and provides funding for faculty who are doing research on topics related to the Symposium. Faculty who meet for the first time at a Symposium roundtable often discover common interests that lead to collaborative research in innovative new directions.
A group of faculty serve as consultants as the IAS develops ideas for the topic; this group is self-selected from across the University, and members attend occasional planning meetings and offer feedback via email. Over 160 colleagues served on the Body & Knowing planning group; 72 are serving on the Abundance and Scarcity group. Faculty also propose projects for competitive awards for research and creative projects related to the Symposium, funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research. Faculty who receive these awards frequently participate in public events related to the Symposium; often these faculty members also participate in the planning group.
In 2009 the IAS offered its first faculty seminar, in conjunction with the University Symposium on Body & Knowing. Faculty seminars are taught by interdisciplinary teams of faculty who propose and design the seminar; participants are primarily other University faculty, but graduate students and community members are also welcome. Seminars are selected by a committee with representatives of the IAS board and the Office of the Vice President for Research. These seminars meet for one semester and are usually limited to ten participants. The faculty leaders of the seminar receive a course release each; faculty participants are paid a small stipend. The IAS has now offered two faculty seminars (“Beyond the Eye: Toward an Understanding of Non-Visual Theories and Methodologies” and “Corporeal Epistemologies: Knowing and Body Across the Disciplines”). Organizers and participants of the two Body & Knowing seminars uniformly agreed that the seminar was a formative experience and extraordinarily productive for their work. The great strength of the seminars is that the focus and curriculum is entirely based on the faculty leaders’ interests and driven by the participants’ contributions.