Meet past Members at the Institute for Advanced Study and discover their unique passion for curiosity-driven research in the new Scholar Spotlight video series.
For more than 90 years at the Institute for Advanced Study, the world’s greatest thinkers in the sciences and humanities have explored ideas and questions that open new frontiers of discovery and transform the way we understand our world. IAS is devoted to basic research and built around four broadly defined fields of study—mathematics, natural sciences, historical studies, and social science—each led by a faculty of preeminent scholars in those areas. Our foremost purpose is to advance the work of the world’s most promising researchers by providing residencies in an ideal environment that gives scholars a quiet space to follow their curiosity and a collegial and creative community for discussion and debate.
Unlike American universities, IAS has neither tuition nor licensing revenue streams, nor a donor base of alumni and their parents. As an independent institution, the Institute relies more heavily on its endowment (which provides 68% of the operating budget) than other educational organizations do, and we are dependent upon philanthropy to cover the gap between endowment returns and annual expenses.
As we recover from a global coronavirus pandemic, we are also seeing shrinking budgets throughout academia, particularly at the graduate level; and opportunities for early-career scholars are becoming ever fewer and farther between. The Institute’s role in helping young, independent-minded scholars establish themselves is all the more crucial during this time. Indeed, history shows that great thinkers tend to do some of their most radically original thinking when they are young—Einstein being just one example. IAS is a lifeline for such scholars, lest they leave academia altogether for lack of opportunities to develop and pursue their work.
A Model of Visionary Philanthropy
The Institute remains true to its original mission and ever-committed to its model solely based on philanthropy. While the initial gift from the Bamberger-Fuld families has increased in value over the years, and many generous donors have added to the corpus, the endowment cannot solely provide operating funds. The IAS must rely on gifts from individuals, and grants from foundations and the government to fund scholars and activities on an annual basis. We are grateful to the Board of Trustees, AMIAS, Friends, individuals, foundations, and other organizations for their continued support.
Your Role in Supporting Basic Research
A gift in support of the Institute is an act of visionary thinking that will have exponential impact spanning disciplines, continents, and future generations of scholars. The Institute remains steadfastly committed to academic freedom and creating a community of diverse voices in scholarship. In a time when the need for basic research is misunderstood or overlooked, and government funding is declining, the IAS stands as a beacon for the most promising minds and ideas.
IAS needs a strong base of supporters who can help sustain independent inquiry and the search for deeper knowledge.
Please consider these ways to give and join us in investing in these great minds.