One of the most successful formats of academic life in the last half century has been the Institute of Advanced Studies for Visiting Fellows – the most famous in the USA located at Stanford and Princeton, and in Europe in Berlin. Many other universities, including this University, have created similar structures. The operation of such institutions is so well known as to obviate the need for detailed description: Each year a complement of Fellows is hosted in conditions that are designed to facilitate research and academic writing as well as intellectual group synergies. The prestige, location and quality of support determine the quality of Fellows attracted to the various institutions, and the ultimate success is measured in the currency of distinguished scholarship.
The Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice adopts this well-known traditional format, but with two principal innovations:
- Although drawing scholars from multidisciplinary backgrounds – social sciences, humanities, etc – and from all around the world, there is a broadly defined academic focus on issues of law and justice; and
- There is a determination not to be merely an “ivory tower”, but to merge premier academic and intellectual conditions with community integration and a sense of public service. True to the mission of New York University to be “a Private University in the Public Service”, through the concept of the annual theme each year the Straus Institute defines areas of research and scholarship of relevance to society and steers a critical mass of the Fellows to work in these areas – with the aim of making a useful contribution from the University to its social environment.
The Straus Institute creates, cultivates and facilitates a close intellectual community with teaching and research synergies extending throughout different faculties of the University. It prioritizes close relations with the other NYU schools, along with New York City and its residents. The Straus Institute is defined by this international, multicultural, interdisciplinary, and community-minded approach.
The Straus Institute was created as part of the University initiative ‘Institutes on the Park’, which acts as the umbrella organization for several subject specific Institutes inaugurated by The Straus Institute. The Straus Institute operates as an autonomous unit within the University as part of this framework, and is affiliated with New York University School of Law. The Straus Institute is located at the beautifully renovated townhouse at 22 Washington Square North, and formally opened its doors in academic year 2009-2010.
Each year, the Straus Institute welcomes as Fellows approximately 14 leading scholars from different disciplines and cultures, and provides them with facilities and an intellectual community in which to conduct personal research and writing. Fellows are either leading, established scholars, or the most promising in the up-and-coming generation. Fellows are selected and invited by the Faculty Director, Professor Joseph Weiler, in consultation with his colleagues. Fellows’ costs are borne by the Straus Institute, the University and the Law School. The Straus Institute contains both offices and public space for Fellows, who each receive annual financial support of $100,000 USD, in addition to subsidized housing and an office.
Fellows are expected to be in residence during the academic year; not to accept other teaching commitments in New York or elsewhere; and to take part in the intellectual life of the Straus Institute, primarily a weekly lunch and the Forum in which the research projects of the Fellows will be presented, and annual colloquia and conferences. More generally, Fellows may engage in other Law School activities and the intellectual life of the wider NYU community. Something tangible - such as an article, a completed book manuscript, etc – is expected to be produced at the end of the Fellowship or shortly afterwards, perhaps for posting on the Straus Institute’s website if appropriate.
Each year The Straus Institute defines a central theme which steers the selection of two thirds of the Fellows complement and is the overarching subject around which the annual fora, colloquia and conference are set. This is intended to enhance scholarship by the benefits of synergies among scholars working in related fields. The annual theme forms the basis for the invitation of all but five out of the fourteen Fellows; the remaining five Fellows-at-Large enjoy the liberty to work on a theme of their choice. View each year's annual theme here.
The Straus Institute maximizes its resources, both in terms of academic minds and its inter-institutional location, to provide a rich academic and intellectual life for its Fellows and community. This includes fora, colloquia, conferences and appropriate publications.