Ideas

Explore firsthand accounts of research and questions posed by IAS scientists and scholars. From art history to string theory, from moral anthropology to the long-term fate of the universe, contributions span the last decade to the research of today.

Myles Jackson

Myles W. Jackson, Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, is a historian of science who explores the intersection between science, technology, music, history, and society. His

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Cord Whitaker

Cord Whitaker, Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study Member in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, is researching nineteenth- and twentieth-

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In the summer of 430 B.C.E., a ship from Egypt arrived in Piraeus with an uninvited guest onboard: the "plague." The symptoms of this yet-to-be-identified disease—hypotheses range from typhoid fever to viral hemorrhagic fever—are described by the...

Suzanne Akbari

On December 4, 2019, Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, gave the talk "What Is the Value of the Humanities? How We Read (and Write) Today," examining how we engage with literature...

Cord Whitaker gives a lecture in the Dilworth Room at IAS

On November 1, 2019, Cord Whitaker, Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study Member in the School of Historical Studies, gave the talk "Black Metaphors: How Modern Racism Emerged from Medieval Race-...

Gossuin de Metz's "Image du Monde"

To be bewildered is, literally, to be lost in the woods. Not lost in the beautiful and well-marked paths that wind through the Institute forest but trapped and disoriented in a dangerous place with the fear that you might never escape. The...

Book cover for "Black Metaphors" by Cord J. Whitaker

In the late Middle Ages, Christian conversion could wash a black person’s skin white—or at least that is what happens when a black sultan converts to Christianity in the late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century English romance the King of...

In 2019–20, Cord J. Whitaker, Member in the School of Historical Studies and Associate Professor at Wellesley College, is interested in the history and development of race...

Portrait of Karina Urbach

Karina Urbach, Visitor in the School of Historical Studies since 2015, is a German historian with a special interest in the Nazi period (1933–45). She has written several books on nineteenth- and twentieth-...

Book cover for "Muslim Perceptions"

Sabine Schmidtke, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, has coauthored, with Camilla Adang, Muslim Perceptions and Receptions of the Bible: Texts and Studies (Lockwood Press, 2019).

The...

Historical Studies

Cord Whitaker

with Cord Whitaker

Cord Whitaker, Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study Member in the School of Historical Studies, joins Distinguished Journalism Fellow Joanne Lipman to discuss the current racial unrest, its place in the history of racism, and where we go from here.

Video

By George Dyson

In 1916, social theorist Thorstein Veblen called for the post-war institution of “academic houses of refuge . . . where teachers and students of all nationalities, including Americans with the rest, may pursue their chosen work.” 

Social Science

By Ruha Benjamin

Like everyone who lives in a heavily policed neighborhood, I grew up with a keen sense of being watched. Family, friends, and neighbors—all of us caught up in a carceral web, in which other people’s safety and freedom are predicated on our containment.

Historical Studies

By Myles W. Jackson and Arnold J. Levine

What can the history of science contribute to two controversial aspects of biomedical research: gene patenting, and race and genomics?

Spectacular Black Death - Shatema Threadcraft with Didier Fassin

By Shatema Threadcraft

Think of what it means that all black bodies are not equally evoked by this all-important symbol of racial oppression … What then are those who would ameliorate the conditions of black women in society to do?

On February 13, 1960, students line the counter of a dime store in Greensboro, North Carolina, in protest of the store’s refusal to serve them.

By Michael Walzer

Every political activist who has fought for a good cause dreams of a chance to fight again. We live, right now, in a bad time; American politics has not been this ugly since the Joe McCarthy years or the Red Scare and anti-immigrant frenzy of the early 1920s. We need movements of resistance, and we need citizen activists who remember the old labor union imperative: Organize!

By Joan Wallach Scott

Some of the reasons usually offered to explain the persistence of gender inequality include large abstractions: patriarchy, capitalism, male self-interest, misogyny, religion. These are, of course, useful categories to work with, but none of them can account for how deep-rooted these inequalities are in our psyches, our cultures, and our politics. 

Natural Sciences

By Edward Witten

Much of the theory of knots is best understood in the framework of 20th- and 21st-century developments in quantum physics. In other words, what really fascinates me are not the knots per se but the connections between the knots and quantum physics.

Mathematics

By Richard Taylor

One of the oldest subjects in mathematics is the study of Diophantine equations, i.e., the study of whole number (or fractional) solutions to polynomial equations. 
Robbert Dijkgraaf

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Joanne Lipman, IAS’s Peretsman Scully Distinguished Journalism Fellow discuss the coronavirus epidemic, its impact on IAS, and the elevated role of science in society.

Artist's representation of COVID-19

Professor Emeritus Arnold J. Levine spoke with IAS's Joanne Lipman about the novel coronavirus outbreak, how it compares to previous pandemics, and potential therapies in the works that may help stop the spread.

Mathematics

By Ralph Martin Kaufmann

There is a certain scale for effectively communicating mathematical language and its associated truth and beauty. We can transmit ideas, but in order for them to be grasped, they have to be rediscovered or reimagined, much like in the translation of poetry.

Historical Studies

Gossuin de Metz's "Image du Monde"

By Suzanne Conklin Akbari

At the Institute, while each School certainly has its own character and researchers’ work is highly specialized, we share the experience of bewilderment, and the perpetual yearning for clarity.

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“We, mathematicians and scientists, are searching for truth. It’s our goal. But beauty is our guiding light and leads us there.”