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Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) Program


The CAT programme was created in 2019 at the initiative of the Paris IAS, with the support of 9 Institutes for Advanced Study. It aims to encourage networks of excellent early-career researchers dedicated to developing new ideas to understand and address current and emerging societal challenges, and to help transform these ideas into concrete action. While it is strongly focused on the societal relevance of projects, CAT is entirely open-ended and non-thematic. The program supports basic research and encourages openness to non-academic actors (industry, policy makers, NGOs...) willing to help or engage in innovative research initiatives.
With few guidelines and a very light application process, CAT is designed to maximize the creativity of the groups. Collaboration between different institutes in different countries aims to give these groups access to a wide variety of top researchers and intellectuals in order to go beyond the current frontiers of knowledge and develop innovative ideas on how to address very complex societal issues.

How it works

CAT helps groups of 3 to 5 people from any discipline, led by an early-career researcher and possibly including PhD students, to work on their project for up to 3 years. To allow them to engage in conversation and mature their ideas, the groups have the opportunity to meet for short stays (two weeks maximum) at participating institutes, and to be put in contact with local residents and research communities.

The proposals sent by the groups are reviewed by the participating institutes and studied by experts. In the spirit of an open, non-telematic call, the way in which the teams understand the call and design their proposal is an evaluation criterion, as is the societal relevance of the proposal, the quality of the team, its organisation, the expected results and the innovative nature of the proposed approach to the problem under study.

10 participating institutes from 8 countries

  • CEU Institute for Advanced Study, Budapest
  • Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem
  • Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Berlin
  • Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions, Montpellier
  • Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Amsterdam
  • Paris Institute for Advanced Study, Paris
  • Scienza Nuova, Torino
  • Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala
  • Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, Bielefeld
  • Zukunftskolleg, Konstanz

5 projects selected in the 2019 call for application

The Institutes for Advanced Study involved in the CAT program met in Edinburgh in November 2019 to select the first CAT projects. Five teams were given the opportunity to develop their interdisciplinary project in various institutes, from 2020 to 2022.

“Unravelling existential suffering and its relation to depression in older adults: EXIST-well in nursing homes”, led by Jessie DEZUTTER, KU Leuven. Team hosted at NIAS (Amsterdam), Zukunftskolleg (Konstanz), MAK’IT (Montpellier) and Paris IAS.

“Cartoons in Court: Towards a Forensic Analysis of Visual Humor”, led by Alberto GODIOLI, University of Groningen. Team hosted ad The team will be hosted at CEU-IAS (Budapest), NIAS (Amsterdam), IIAS (Jerusalem) and SCAS (Uppsala).

“Moving beyond traditional methods of identifying and overcoming negative attitudes towards vaccinations (ACTION team)”, led by Angelos KASSIANOS, University College London and University of Cyprus. Team hosted at SCAS (Uppsala), IIAS (Jerusalem), MAK’IT (Montpellier) and Scienza Nuoa (Turin)

“A psycholegal approach to international criminal justice. Improving decision making in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court”, led by Anna SAGANA, Maastricht University. Team hosted at ZIF (Bielefeld), NIAS (Amsterdam), CEU-IAS (Budapest) and Zukunftskolleg (Konstanz).

“Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Empirical Research: Critical Reflections on Concepts, Data and Methods”, led by Ilona WYSMULEK, Polish Academy of Sciences. Team hosted at Paris IAS, NIAS (Amsterdam), Madrid IAS and SCAS (Uppsala).

Call for Applications 2020: the Paris IAS selects two CAT projects

The Institutes for Advanced Study involved in the CAT program met in Edinburgh in November 2019 to select the first CAT projects. Three teams were given the opportunity to develop their interdisciplinary project in different institutes in 2022 or 2023.

Among them, two teams will be hosted at the Paris IAS

“Socio-ecological reshaping of European Cities and Metropolitan Areas” led by Joachim HACK (PI – TU Darmstadt), with Carlos Oliveira Cruz (Universidade de Lisboa), Rieke Hansen (Hochschule Geisenheim) & Andrea Nóblega Carriquiry (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

“Reconstituting Publics through Remembering Transitions: Facilitating Critical Engagement with the 1980-90s on Local and Transnational Scales”, led by Ksenia ROBBE (PI - University of Groningen), with Agnieszka Mrozik (Polish Academy of Sciences), Andrei Zavadski (HU Berlin) & Alexander Formozov (Dekabristen e.V. https://dekabristen.org/)

One other project selected under the CAT 2020 call for applications

“Light as a key predictor of human health and well-being: Robust evidence and translation to public health”, led by Manuel SPITSCHAN (PI - University of Oxford), with Laura Kervezee (Leiden University), Renske Lok (Stanford University), Ray Najjar (Duke-NUS Medical School) & Elise McGlashan (Monash University)

Next call for applications

The third CAT will be launched in spring 2021 for projects to be conducted in 2022-2023-2024.