On 19 September the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) was officially opened by rector magnificus Karen Maex and Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan. The new institute offers scholars a haven where they can tackle important fundamental scientific and societal issues, free from the boundary constraints between disciplines.
Van der Laan complimented the University of Amsterdam with its new institute, which he considers to be a true asset for the city. Helga Nowotny, the former president of the European Research Council, urged researchers not to follow the mainstream. The IAS can be a perfect haven for ‘competent rebels’ where they can think out of the box, curiosity-driven, and free from their daily-felt pressure to perform.
The Institute’s first research theme is ‘tipping points’. Tipping points play an important role in sociology, not only in regime changes such as the Arab Spring, for example, but also in biology, in ecosystem changes and in phase transitions in physics. Stephen Lansing, professor in the Asian School of the Environment at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, demonstrated the aspect of Tipping Points in his talk on The Emergence of Order in the Rice Terraces of Bali.
Professor Peter Sloot, IAS scientific director, concluded the ceremony: ‘The IAS will offer scholars a place where they can tackle complex fundamental scientific and important societal issues, free from the boundary constraints between disciplines’.