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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

2016/17 Events

The IAS theme for the academic year 2016/17 was Scale and was interpreted spatially, temporally or conceptually. Scale refers both to things measured and how measurement is done. This research theme was predicated on the idea that seeking common aspects to the study of scale and its effects has the potential to unite, compare and/or contrast phenomena and ideas across all disciplines.

The 2016/17 theme intended to generate a dialogue between disciplines, and between academics and research users.

Highlights during the annual programme included: an interdisciplinary workshop comparing the ways in which Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek astrology dealt with the of problem scale; a workshop that interrogated the role of scale in international legal and governance scholarship; a wide ranging programme that considered the work of composer Morton Feldman and included three public concerts, a lecture and study group; a public lecture series on the scale of time; its flow and passage. Could, for example, the passage of time in modernity be understood with concepts such as progress, revolutionary rupture or acceleration? Or do modern societies and cultures find a more ‘human’ scale of time – that of the present and near future – more conducive to living together? A further series of workshops considered current attempts to make progress understanding complex biological systems, especially by bringing the natural and life sciences communities together; an innovative collaborative reading workshop gathered experts from a wide range of disciplines (from arts, natural and medical sciences) to explore two central elements of pre-modern appreciation of scale and measurement: astronomy and the human eye. The workshop brought together experts in Arabic science and its transmission in the West, western medieval specialists, modern ophthalmic surgeons and vision perception specialists, as well as experts in ancient Greek and modern cosmology. In addition to these activities, the IAS hosted it secondary public lecture series The Scale of Things . Speakers included among others Professor Mark Pagel FRS (University of Reading); Professor Stuart Elden FBA (University of Warwick); Professor Jussi Parrika (University of Southampton); Professor Andres Lepik (Technical University of Munich); and Dr Karen Johnson (Durham University). The visiting IAS Fellows also delivered public lectures during the course of the year. Recordings of this lectures (audio and video) can be found here.