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What is the Institute of Advanced Study?

The Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) helps Durham academics build exciting, large-scale, interdisciplinary research which can reshape our thinking.

As a home for such work, the IAS can offer a vibrant research community, with regular research talks at the IAS on Palace Green, public lectures across the Colleges, a range of activities built around our projects and Fellows which support training in interdisciplinary research.

As we return to face-to-face working after the Covid-19 pandemic, the IAS is once again a hive of activity and keen to work with colleagues across the University to grow interdisciplinary ideas in a number of ways.

Our projects

Each year the IAS puts out a call for major projects. These involve multiple researchers across departments and faculties. Successful projects are not only interdisciplinary in their approach, but also innovative and challenging and with potential to build into large-scale programmes of work.

Recent projects have included:

  • Mind the gap: exploring how differences in levels of advantage early in life impact children’s academic outcomes,
  • Firing up the epistemological engine: using advances in computer science tools to support automated, but critical, evaluation of the knowledge landscape, and
  • Enabling responsible space exploitation: exploring the opportunities and challenges of a sustainable space industry.

Our Fellows

A key way in which the IAS supports interdisciplinary work across the University is through our international fellowship. Each year the IAS puts out a call for fellowship applications from researchers around the world to come to Durham for a term to work with our academics.

In recent years the IAS has hosted Fellows from across the world, including Australia, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the USA.

Our community

The IAS offers a vibrant community for a wide group of interdisciplinary researchers. As well as Director Alex Easton (Psychology), IAS has a co-director based in each of Durham’s four faculties (Nayanika Mookherjee, Anthropology; Patrick Zuk, MLAC; Karen Johnson, Engineering; and Gretchen Larsen, Marketing and Management), which means our leadership team reaches across the University.

This year we have also established an Associate Fellowship with around 30 Durham University staff actively engaged in interdisciplinary research, and able to support the IAS in building networks around our projects and activities.

Our previous Fellows over the last 16 years are part of our College of Fellows, with nearly 300 researchers from around the world who keep in touch with our activities.

What else we offer

In 2022 for the first time we have supported development projects offering up to £1500 for workshops or other activities that will help grow initial ideas and networks to establish the scale needed for major interdisciplinary project applications in the future.

We also continue to offer support for postgraduate research students through regular training and engagement in the activities of some of Durham’s postgraduate training programmes, and through offering small-scale support for student-led interdisciplinary workshops and seminars in Durham.

We also offer our facilities, including our seminar room on Palace Green, to support interdisciplinary conversations at any stage. 

Getting in touch

Our directors are happy to work with colleagues to build projects, to bring networks together, and to support interdisciplinary conversations. Get in touch with the IAS at, or subscribe to the Transformations newsletter.





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