IAS 5x5 Initiative

Applications for IAS 5x5s are currently OPEN! We are collecting responses; and hope to start working groups that will begin during Fall 2020.

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) is a University-wide center supporting interdisciplinary research, collaboration, and critical conversations. Our 5x5 initiative brings together small groups of people (about 5 people) from differing disciplinary backgrounds and positions in the University and off-campus communities for a low-stakes, short-term exploration (about 5 gatherings over several months).

Our goals are simple: for participants (you) to engage with people across disciplines and other boundaries in order to learn about and appreciate different perspectives and methods; to expand your intellectual and personal networks; to have a space and a group to explore new ideas; and to have a different kind of experience (and fun) than you may get in your daily work. We recognize that building collaborative relationships and interdisciplinary work may take a long time; this gives you a taste of the possibilities.  The benefits for the IAS are that we get to meet new people, expand our networks on and off campus, and promote interdisciplinarity and collaboration.

Groups may be organized around a theme or topic of common interest, readings, an activity, an idea, or bring together individuals the IAS thinks would find stimulating common ground. The IAS has the responsibility for putting groups together; unlike a grant proposal or an IAS Research and Creative Collaborative, you won’t have to identify co-conspirators.* You are welcome to list categories of people or disciplines whose work you would like to know more about, or suggest colleagues or others that you think would be interested in participating in a 5x5 (not necessarily the same one you might be in). This can include off-campus people and job categories.

Past and current 5x5 goups include:

  • Justice and Place
  • Storytelling and Climate
  • Trauma and Response
  • Human in the Data
  • Outcomes/Data/Learning Analytics
  • Youth Development and Challenges
  • Form and Transmutation
  • Biorhythms
  • Aggression
  • Movement and Gravity
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Animal-Human Connections

What you may gain from applying:

  • A one-to-one meeting with an IAS facilitator interested in learning more about your work and ideas and how we might support those through the 5x5 initiative or in other ways
  • Expanded intellectual and institutional networks
  • An opportunity to investigate or indulge a passion not within your usual scope

Each group will have the help of an IAS facilitator to get started and a budget of up to $1,000 for materials, lunches, field trips, or other expenses. The IAS staff is also willing to consult or facilitate if the group wants to continue, develop a project or event together, make connections outside the University, or other activities.  We hope all the participants will find the 5x5 stimulating; we have no expectations for outcomes beyond expanding participants’ networks and experience finding a common language for discussions across disciplines. This is an open-ended process—our goal is for you to meet people across disciplines, learn something, appreciate others, and help encourage interdisciplinary thinking.

*If you already have an idea for an interdisciplinary project or investigation and a group of people who want to work together on it, let us know. You should consider applying for an IAS Research and Creative Collaborative grant. You can find more information on the program and how to apply here.

Apply Now

Click here to complete the application. PLEASE NOTE: you cannot save or edit the form once you have begun; we strongly recommend you download the Word version of the questions and copy-paste them into the form when ready to submit.

5x5 Feature: A Flexible Approach to Sparkling Serendipity

As part of the first round of the 5x5 initiative, one interdisciplinary team explored the connection between our health and our circadian rhythms.The 5x5 team’s six members, whose expertise spanned the fields of nursing, medicine, wearable technology, and the history of science, technology and medicine, came together to discuss how assessing individuals’ circadian rhythms can play an important role in providing personalized health care and improving well-being.

Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms, the focus of one 5x5 group, are the physical, mental, and behavioral changes in most living beings that follow a daily cycle.

Dr. Ruifeng (Ray) Cao, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the U of M Medical School, Duluth Campus and a member of this 5x5 team, said working with experts from other fields made it possible to approach the subject from many different angles.

“Interdisciplinary collaboration was especially interesting to me,” he said. “For example, we had a design expert in the group, and she showed us how to design products to monitor individual daily rhythms. We also had a bioinformatician, who showed us how to utilize big data from public databases.”

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