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Institute of Advanced Study

Transforming The Way We Think

The Institute of Advanced Study is a prestigious, ideas-based Institute bringing together some of the world’s finest researchers from all disciplines to examine themes of major intellectual, scientific, political and practical significance. At least twenty visiting fellows per annum are based in Cosin's Hall, a beautiful 18th Century, Grade 1 listed mansion house, situated on Palace Green (a World Heritage site). They work with Durham scholars to spark new investigations, set tomorrow's agenda and participate in a varied programme of activities.

The Institute also serves as a top-level forum, enabling key-decision makers and experts to discuss pressing policy problems in an intellectually stimulating and unrestricted manner. We put on a wide range of public lectures and other events. There are also opportunities for postgraduates and other early career researchers to get involved.

The IAS aims to build research capacity, realise potential, and meet the challenges of a changing world. There are many ways to participate in the life and work of the institute. We warmly welcome your involvement.


The Scale of Things: public lecture series

The IAS is pleased to announce this term’s series of public lectures on The Scale of Things. Scale is that indispensible concept which relates everything to everything, individual experience to History writ large, personal lives to global dynamics of change, the structure of sub-atomic particles to the incomprehensibly large forces powering the cosmos, insect society to the human polis. But is humanity the measure of all things? And if so, how do we know? Our series presents seven internationally distinguished guests specialising in fields from architecture to cosmology, digital communication, epidemiology, evolutionary cultural theory and political science. The first lecture, by Professor Andres Lepik of Munich, entitled ‘Small scale, big change: the social turn in contemporary architecture’, takes place in the Ken Wade Theatre, Calman Learning Centre, at 6.15pm on 23 January. All welcome.

For further information see: or contact the IAS (

(12 Jan 2017)

Institute of Advanced Study – Epiphany Term Fellows

The Institute of Advanced Study is delighted to welcome its second cohort of Fellows connected with its 2016/17 Scaleyear. This term’s visiting Fellows include:- 

Sara Cousins, Professor in Physical Geography, from Stockholm University whose research revolves around how species, communities and biodiversity respond with time to changing landscape patterns, habitat degradation and fragmentation; ethnographer and anthropologist Professor Ida Susser from Hunter College; Anna McCarthy, Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University, who is a specialist in visual culture with a focus on television, video, and digital media. Her work is known for its interdisciplinary methodology, particularly its use of photography, and for its creative engagement with archival materials; Professor John Hall from McGill University whose work moves back and forth between social theory and historical analysis; philosopher Dr Barbara Sattler from the University of St. Andrews whose main area of her research is metaphysics and natural philosophy in the ancient Greek world; Professor Hannah Smithson a Fellow of Pembroke College (University of Oxford) whose research focuses on the neural mechanisms that underlie perception; historian Dr Anna Maerker (King’s College London) whose work investigates the historical emergence of modern science and medicine as authoritative practices of knowledge making through a focus on material culture and everyday practices; Ranga Narayanan Distinguished Professor at the University of Florida whose research is in the area of pattern formation; Professor Jack Williams, Director of the Center for Climatic Research, part of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. His research focuses on the responses of plant species and communities to past and future climate change; plant physiologist  Professor Mark Fricker (University of Oxford) whose research investigates a range of scales including confocal ratio imaging on a micron scale, radiolabel scintillation imaging at an intermediate scale, and network analysis and mathematical modelling to predict behaviour at a macro-scale. 

Whilst at Durham, the Fellows will be engaging and collaborating with Durham colleagues on a number of different interdisciplinary Durham-led projects connected to the IAS’s annual theme, Scale, and delivering seminars and public lectures, as well as engaging with their College. 

(6 Jan 2017)

2017/18 Fellowship Announced

The IAS is delighted to confirm its visiting Fellowship for the academic year 2017/18 and its theme of Structure.

Two cohorts of ten Fellows will reside at the IAS for a term during 2017/18 and engage and collaborae with colleagues on a number of different interdisciplinary projects connected to the Structure thematic year. 

(8 Dec 2016) » More about 2017/18 Fellowship Announced

Professor Nicholas Saul (IAS Co-Director) - Brexit Plenary

Professor Nicholas Saul gave the plenary address (on Brexit) and shared in the panel discussion on the theme ‘Visions of a New Europe – New Perspectives from German Romantic Thought around 1800’, a European Union cultural event at the Zentrum der Regionen, Boulevard Saint Michel, Brussels, sponsored by the state of Sachsen-Anhalt/Saxony-Anhalt and the Bertelsmann-Stiftung/Bertelsmann Foundation, 30 November 2016.

(2 Dec 2016)

IAS Conference Review

The IAS’s Decennial conference (July 12th-14th) brought former Fellows and other international visitors to Durham to build on ideas emerging during a year on the theme of Evidence. The first keynote, by Monica Grady, looked outwards into the cosmos for extra-terrestrial life, and concluded that there was no definitive evidence demonstrating its existence. However, she left the door open to finding such evidence, so it may still be that the proof is out there. Penny Harvey’s keynote was more down to earth, and focused on concrete evidence of material vitality through and exploration of… concrete. Panels and roundtables ranged across topics as diverse as evidence for the efficacy of psychotherapeutic analysis; the evidence of sentience in non-human beings and its implications for their use in scientific experiments; the intangible evidence of intangible heritage; and the ways in .which IASs can foster the bringing of evidence together in interdisciplinary collaborations. Details of the panels are available here.

Delegates greatly appreciated the warm welcome from the Vice Chancellor at the conference dinner, which was followed by a definitively uproarious game of Durham Bluff, in which, for the first time in a while, the Home Team managed to beat the Visitors with some exemplary mendacity.

A grande finale to the conference was provided by a public debate, in which lively argumentation swayed a preliminary ‘for’ vote towards a narrow defeat of a provocative motion proposing that this House Believes it is Possible to Apply Universal Standards of Evidence.

The Scale of Things: Public Lecture Series (January - March 2017)

The Scale of Things: Public Lecture Series - January - March 2017

Other Events

Monday 23 January 2017

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Filmmaker Oliver Stone with Dr Ivana Petrovic and Professor Veronica Strang at the Institute of Advanced Study

Interview with Oliver Stone

Interview with Oliver Stone

Views: 492

Short interview clip of Oliver Stone with Professor Veronica Strang.

Academic research goes to Hollywood

On March 10th, leading filmmaker Oliver Stone visited Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study to meet with classicist Dr Ivana Petrovic, whose research, engaging with his depiction of Alexander the Great, was included in his DVD Alexander The Ultimate Cut, released in 2014. He described how he first discovered her work in the debates that followed the release of the first version of Alexander:

For full details of Oliver Stone's visit to Durham including full video coverage of the discussion then please click here.

“Lies, Damned Lies and …”: Is There Such a Thing as Reliable Evidence? Annual IAS London Event 2016
“Lies, Damned Lies and …”: Is There Such a Thing as Reliable Evidence? Annual IAS London Event 2016
Views: 134

King Hussein Memorial Lecture 2016
King Hussein Memorial Lecture 2016
Views: 71

‘Finding Common Ground: Negotiating Across Cultures on Peace and Security Issues’ - the annual King Hussein Memorial Lecture in Cultural Dialogue 2016 given by Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC FASSA FAIIA.

Contact Details

Institute of Advanced Study
Durham University
Cosin's Hall
Palace Green
Telephone: +44 (0)191 334 2589

Transforming The Way We Think

Transforming the Way We Think is the Institute of Advanced Study's celebrationary book and its decade of interdisciplinarity. Download here.

To request a hard copy of the book please complete this online order form.

2016-17 Annual Programme: Scale

In addition to this programme of events please review the comprehensive Events Calendar for all current details. Additional events may be added during the course of the year.

Contact: if you have any questions. 



Time on a Human Scale Public Lecture series - How to negotiate the modern regime of historicity (1870 - 1930) lecture by Francois Hartog on 25th January (6.15pm)
Will now be held in the Calman Learning Centre (Rosemary Cramp Theatre)
And not in the Pemberton Rooms as previously indicated

VENUE Change:
Temporal and Spatial Scales: Scale in Ecological Systems, Past and Present seminar 22nd February 2017 (Professor Chris Thomas - University of York), 12:00 to 14:00
Will now be held in the Turner Room Van Mildert College and not St Mary's College as previously indicated

DATE Change:
Understanding and Representing Scale: Physics and Scale: from femtophysics to atoms, biology and the Universe - workshop.
Now takes place on 4th & 5th July (not 3rd and 4th July).

Navigating Interdisciplinarity Publication - Revised 2015

'Navigating Interdisciplinarity' is an IAS workshop designed to facilitate research collaboration across disciplines. To assist others embarking upon interdisciplinary research we are making this publication freely available. We ask only that you cite the IAS/Durham as the source. Please download here.