Mission and history
The Paris Institute for Advanced Study (Paris IAS) is a research centre in the field of the humanities and social sciences (SHS), and related disciplines. It offers globally-recognised senior and junior researchers a chance to carry out five- to nine-month research stays in Paris.
The Paris IAS was founded in 2008 by Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH), École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), and École Normale Supérieure (ENS). In 2011, it became an independent, autonomous institution, with support from the 9 main universities and research institutes of the Paris region, as well as the City of Paris, FMSH, and the Île-de-France Regional Authority. It also enjoys funding from the French Ministry for Research and Higher Education as part of the “Investments for the Future” programme currently managed by RFIEA (a network of the four Institutes for Advanced Study in France).
Princeton, a source of inspiration
The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, founded in the 1930s, has served as an inspiration for numerous similar institutes worldwide. These institutes vary in size and focus; some are part of a university, whereas others are independent of the university system of their country. Some are private, while others are publicly-funded. Some have strict rules on guest researchers’ participation in the social life of the institution; others give fellows substantial freedom to complete their research projects.
For all of them, the objective is to generate knowledge by fostering communication across disciplines, nationalities and cultures.
The partnership between the Paris IAS and Île-de-France universities and academic institutions
Compared to other institutes located on university campuses or far from the city centre, the Paris IAS is unique because it is anchored in the heart of central Paris, in the midst of a very rich scientific and cultural life that fellows are encouraged to participate in.
While respecting our fellows’ need to focus on their projects and providing them with the services and assistance that free them from administrative and practical concerns, we strongly encourage the interactions within the Institute, and between the fellows and French researchers, notably those at the Paris IAS’s partner institutions.
Who are the Paris IAS’s fellows?
The Institute has a very selective recruitment process. We launch an annual Call for Applications throughout the international academic world. Preselected applications are first reviewed by at least two outside evaluators specialised in the applicant’s research field. The Institute’s Scientific Committee, comprised of internationally-recognised independent researchers, creates then a list of qualified applicants on the basis of the external evaluations, and the IEA’s Director makes the final selection.
Each year, we welcome around 20 researchers, one-third of whom are junior level. They cover a wide range of disciplines: archaeology, economics, psychology, philosophy, history, literature, philology, linguistics, art theory, architecture, sociology, or the history of science.
See the list of current guest researchers.
Scientific activities: seminars and conferences
In keeping with its scientific policy, the Paris IAS mainly organises interdisciplinary events that lie at the crossroads of approaches that are usually considered to be distinct. Apart from the weekly internal seminar, where each fellow has an opportunity to present his or her research project, the Paris IAS encourages fellows to organise conferences and workshops on its premises. It also organises scientific events in collaboration with its partner institutions.
See upcoming events.
Building bridges between human sciences and natural sciences
The boundaries of the social and human sciences are constantly changing. Charles Percy Snow, a British chemist, novelist, and high-level civil servant, gave a now-famous lecture in 1959 about the gap between the “two cultures”, namely, the humanities and the sciences. In the past 50 years, considerable efforts have been made to bridge this gap. In 1963, C.P. Snow introduced the concept of a “third culture” that could be a platform for dialogue between the human sciences and the so-called “hard” sciences. In the past two decades, concepts such as trans-, inter-, and multidisciplinarity have persistently dominated academic discourse, and the concept of the “two cultures” might seem to be outdated. Yet communication between the human and natural sciences is still not guaranteed. All too often, research on each side ignores the thinking and results of other fields. This results in a regrettable loss of knowledge.
The exponential growth in scientific data on the human body and brain is constantly revealing more information about how human beings function in their environment. It is becoming hard for the social and human sciences to continue to study humankind, the mind, and consciousness while ignoring neuroanatomical and neurofunctional data from the life sciences, especially neuroscience. Likewise, neuroscience cannot claim to understand the human being without including the knowledge acquired by the humanities. According to Rabelais, “science without conscience is the ruin of the soul”; the same is however true if we study the mind and “the soul” without taking into account the human brain and body. In this perspective, the Paris IAS supports the building of interdisciplinary bridges and fosters communication and intellectual debate among researchers in the human and natural sciences.
The Paris IAS at the Hôtel de Lauzun
In November 2013, the Paris IAS headquarters moved to the Hôtel de Lauzun, a 17th century hôtel particulier owned by the City of Paris. The municipality’s decision to refurbish this building and make it the headquarters of a research institute for the social and human sciences is a courageous act of cultural policy. It clearly demonstrates that the City of Paris is intent on promoting culture and knowledge, while opening the Île-de-France research sector up to the international academic world. Our desire is for the Paris IAS to become a leading scientific and cultural venue that will enhance the international reputation of the research institutions in the Paris region.