The University of Amsterdam has established its Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) to offer outstanding researchers a haven - free from constraints of disciplinary boundaries - where they can work collaboratively on complex scientific and societal challenges.
The advancement of knowledge has taken a path of increasing specialisation, which is reflected in most of our teaching and learning, our academic structure, our research funding and evaluation. Whereas many challenges that mankind faces in science and society defy the traditional boundaries between academic disciplines.
Climate change, global health, financial markets are just some examples that require new ways of thinking about and understanding the complex, interconnected and rapidly changing world that we borrow from future generations. Understanding, quantifying and handling this complexity and the rapidly growing interdependence of systems is one of the biggest challenges of our time.
At the UvA Institute for Advanced Study researchers work collaboratively on selected themes, with systems thinking (and specifically complex systems methodology) as their common language. It facilitates the transition from multidisciplinary to true interdisciplinary research. We give researchers time and space to interact and let new ideas flourish. This synergy of sciences creates a ‘whole that is not only more, but also different than the sum of its parts’, (Philip Warren Anderson).
Scientific Director, Institute for Advanced Study
If you want to learn more about the origin and philosophy of the institute, read this short essay written by Peter Sloot: "Curiosity, Serendipity, and Complexity - reflections from a chesterfield chair in the Sweelinck board room".