Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture
University of Virginia
The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Virginia, studies the rapid and extensive cultural changes taking place in our world today. Through empirically grounded research, it seeks to understand the unprecedented transformations underway in the frameworks of meaning and moral order within which individuals live and understand their lives, institutions shape their purposes and plans, and social life unfolds. The Institute’s focus, then, is not on surface change but on the transformations occurring in the deep structures of contemporary culture and on the manifestations of these changes in individual and public life.
The Institute pursues this research as an intellectual community of scholars in the social sciences and humanities, rather than, as in much of the academic world, a random aggregate of individual efforts. Our work occurs in the rare context of a thriving intellectual community—a context historically decisive to the generation and dissemination of the most influential ideas. Faculty fellows engage in lively debates with those from other disciplines and institutions whom they otherwise might never encounter. Promising graduate students find mentors, training, and opportunities to participate in high-level discussions with faculty members inside and outside of their field of study, as well as each other. Visiting lecturers present current research to the fellows and the broader University and Charlottesville communities throughout the academic year, and our Friday seminar provides a venue for sustained conversation.
Through its groundbreaking research and training of the next generation of scholars, the Institute seeks to counter the fragmented state of current scholarship. It also seeks to counter the gap that currently exists between the academy and the rest of the world. Committed to the idea that knowledge exists for the common good, the Institute seeks to make its work accessible and available to as wide an audience as possible through its public events, its publications—including its award-winning journal The Hedgehog Review, books, articles, survey reports, and this website—and the lectures and talks given by its fellows.
Times of rapid and dramatic social change are almost always times of confusion and fear and worse. This is true for our own time as well. The Institute seeks to engage the social, cultural, and political complexities of our moment responsibly and effectively through excellent scholarship and the communication of that scholarship to broader audiences. Such engagement requires that we see clearly and with discernment the nature and dynamic of the deeper transformations taking place.