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Global Institute for Advanced Study

The Global Institute for Advanced Study (GIAS) is a nascent initiative at NYU that represents a significant University investment in research and scholarship.

The main purposes of the GIAS are to facilitate collaborative research on an international scale, and to enable sustained attention to significant research programs that require work over several years.

The Institute will not be housed in any particular physical location, but rather will use the resources of the University’s entire global network as its research facility.

The Institute will consist of several working research groups, three starting in 2011/2012 and building up to a total of six per year.

Each working group will be based in an existing department, center, or school. Each working group will identify an important topic (which might, but need not be, interdisciplinary) that the participants of the working group will agree to work on for several years (normally three years).

The working groups will consist of approximately 10-15 individual scholars assembled from around the world. Such working groups might, but need not, include institutional participants as well, for example, departments and centers at other universities.

The faculty participants will commit to attending two short (two-three day) meetings/workshops per year, and to exchanging papers and views between meetings. Much of the work will be accomplished through these continuous proactive exchanges over the duration of the three years of the program. The institutional members might commit to hosting occasional meetings of the working group. Most of the meetings, however, will be hosted by NYU, at the Square, at Abu Dhabi, or at one of NYU's other global sites.

Each working group will work towards an "end product" on its topic, which may be, for example, a published volume, a public conference, and/or a website.

Each working group will receive significant and sufficient funding to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, meetings, video links and other research costs. Further sources of funding may also be available.

Awards will be made to a group leader and a particular project that he or she will lead. The selection of awardees will be made by the Steering Committee of the GIAS, in consultation with the Provost’s Advisory Group of academic leadership and (senior) vice provosts.

Deans and other members of the Provost’s Advisory Group will be invited to submit to the Director their nominations of strong candidates from the various schools. The Steering Committee will then select a certain number from among these nominees and invite them to work with the Director to develop a funding proposal.

Current GIAS Projects

  1. UDHR Revisited Project led by Jeremy Waldron of the Law School: Its goal is to revisit the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to consider possible revisions, corrections, and updates to a document that was first presented to the world over 60 years ago. Jeremy Waldron has assembled a truly extraordinary team: Anthony Appiah, Charles Beitz, Simon Caney, Avishai Margalit, Pratap Mehta, Samuel Moyn, Michael Rosen, Michael Sandel, Amartya Sen, John Tasioulas, Joseph Weiler, Chenguang Wang, Philip Alston, Seyla Benhabib, Fonna Forman, and Onora O’Neill. This project is distinctive in yet another way in that it is envisaged that its work will feed into a practical effort to encourage the UN to reconsider the UDHR and its various associated covenants. A blue ribbon commission, led by Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the UK (who also led a discussion in September 2011 for the NYU Dialogues on the Global Civil Society series), will consider the report of Waldron’s committee and decide whether, and if so, how, to present its findings to the UN Secretary General.
  2. Canonical Neural Computations Project led by J. Anthony Movshon of FAS (Neural Science): This project will study neural computations that are repeated in multiple species and brain regions and which bring the same set of algorithms to bear on a variety of different problems. This project is a good example of the global nature of GIAS projects: In addition to FAS, Courant, and the Medical School, it will involve NYU Shanghai and 20 other institutions from six countries.
  3. Space, Time and Consciousness Project led by David Chalmers of FAS (Philosophy): It will have three subprojects: One on Temporal Consciousness, one on Spatial Consciousness, and one on Consciousness as such.
  4. Rationality Assumptions in Economic Theorizing Project led by Jess Benhabib of FAS (Economics): This project is part of a large international network with nodes in Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam, Stanford, China, Israel, and other locations. This project is only partly funded by the GIAS.
  5. Project on Neuroaesthetics led by Gabrielle Starr of FAS (English): Neuroaesthetics is an emerging field dedicated to discovering the brain bases of aesthetic experiences. It seeks to create fine-scale maps of neural activity for the broad domain of visual aesthetics (from faces to landscapes, paintings, architecture and abstract images), but also to explore the relationships between responses to arts in different modalities (music and painting, for example), and to understand the connections between aesthetic experiences and other cognitive domains.


Paul Boghossian

Silver Professor of Philosophy

Steering Committee

  • Paul Boghossian, Chair
  • Richard Foley, Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Planning
  • David McLaughlin, Provost, New York University
  • Trevor Morrison, Dean, School of Law
  • Lauren Benton, Dean, Graduate School of Arts & Science
  • Peter Henry, Dean, Stern School of Business

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