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Mission and approach

Many breakthroughs in modern science happen at the interface of previously unconnected fields of insight. Our mission is to advance novel cutting-edge interdisciplinary research that addresses complex scientific and societal challenges.

Scientific role: bridging disciplines, scales and paradigms

Interdisciplinary research is ‘a mode of research […] that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines […] to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice’. Strengthening and developing knowledge, skills and methods to enable this integration forms the scientific core of the IAS. As part of that we also study the applicability of existing methods and theories across disciplines.

To make the transition from disciplinary to interdisciplinary research, researchers must speak each other’s language. At the IAS, we use system's thinking and complexity science methods, as our 'common language' to explore challenging interdisciplinary research topics.

Accelerating and facilitating role

We bring together a collaborative research community that nurtures creative, transdisciplinary thought in pursuit of new knowledge. We foster a vibrant and inspiring environment where novel ideas are sparked and new collaborations are formed between researchers from all academic disciplines. We offer interdisciplinary research teams a physical home base where they can work together and utilise the synergy potential with other activities at the institute. To enhance excellence we involve some of the world’s foremost researchers and leading thinkers. 

The IAS also adds a new dimension to the university landscape by creating a place for slow science, where outstanding researchers and out-of-the box thinkers can escape the academic rat race for a while and hit upon new ideas in a serendipitous way. Through the IAS fellowship programme, they have time to focus on a specific scientific question in interaction with other bright and creative minds.

Collaborative development of our work programme

Researchers can contribute to the development of our work programme by joining one of our current areas of research or by submitting a proposal for a new interdisciplinary research topic. New research ideas can be part of a fellowship application, but also emerge during lively discussions at IAS events. You can contact us directy, or one of the IAS Associates, who represent the UvA faculties in our Board, to discuss new ideas.