The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study awards 8-10 residential Faculty Fellowships annually to researchers whose work addresses the Institute’s yearly Research Theme.
During the 2024-2025 academic year, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study is sponsoring residential research projects that investigate The Good Life.
The Good Life fellowship program will bring together ethicists, humanities faculty, scientists, social scientists, policy scholars, and artists with projects that advance our understanding of human flourishing. We are particularly interested in projects that contribute to ethical research and debates surrounding flourishing, including foundational topics in philosophy and psychology but also applied questions across many different disciplines. We seek scholars who will deepen our understanding, teach us novel methods, and translate the institute’s discussions into interdisciplinary and public debates about the good life.
Applications for Faculty Fellowships on The Good Life are due by Monday, October 2, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).
Potential research proposal topics on The Good Life may address, but are not limited to:
- Ethics: What is the relationship between having a good life and satisfying the demands of morality? Is morality demanding to the point that these tend to be in conflict? What are the limitations of virtue ethics and/or other philosophical approaches to studying the good life? How can virtue ethics be expanded to speak to modern challenges to flourishing from technological, social, and economic change?
- Philosophy: How should we understand concepts like flourishing, well-being, and pleasure? Can the conditions for flourishing be taught? How should disabilities or cognitive and physical differences shape our conceptions of the good life? What is the proper relationship between philosophical and psychological examinations of the good life? Is a good life only one that is shared or can it be lived alone?
- Theology and Religious Studies: What is the role of religious faith and spiritual practice in a life well lived? How are particular theological traditions developing or responding to speak to modern challenges to flourishing, especially from technological, social, or economic change? What theological sources from history could be studied or re-engaged to better understand the good life?
- History: How have our concepts of flourishing or well-being developed over time? What stories of “progress” with respect to individual flourishing deserve a critical re-examination? What historical episodes in developing our concept of the good life need a wider audience? We are also interested in projects that deal with the history of positive psychology, utopian experiments, approaches to intentional living, and individual wellness.
- Sociology: What social structures promote or inhibit individual flourishing? How should we best measure flourishing in marginalized communities or in the face of various forms of structural inequality? How do features of everyday social life (parks and recreational spaces, virtual communities, and religious spaces, etc.) affect the good life? How do conceptions of flourishing change through time or across cultures?
- Psychology: How should we measure flourishing or well-being? What effects operate in subjective assessments of well-being? How should we interpret recent data about loneliness and alienation, and how can psychologists best partner with disciplines like public health or sociology to understand these phenomena? What ways can clinical support and therapeutic practices benefit from research insights from other disciplines?
- Economics: How do we measure the connection between economic inputs and individual flourishing or well-being? How might new or projected economic trends change life satisfaction? What does the evidence show about connections between perceived well-being and economic features of an individual’s circumstances like family income, economic efficiency, economic security, economic equality, and/or economic opportunity?
- Technology: How can AI be used to promote or inhibit human flourishing? Can virtual spaces help support a good life? To achieve the good life, should we try to augment human capacities (e.g., life-span, health, cognition) through the use of technology? When does something have moral status, in the sense that it matters morally whether its life goes well? Could a machine have this kind of moral status?
- Environmental Studies: How do climate change and ecological crises challenge paradigmatic ideas of the good life? When we imagine the good life, what counts as life? Must we mean only humans, or should we include non-human animals or other aspects of the natural world? How do we connect large, complex collective action challenges with individuals’ sense of flourishing and meaning?
- Political Science: Can one live a good life in a polarized or uncivil political order? What role do political beliefs and identities play in individual experiences of the good life? How does mass migration impact and influence the notion of a good life? Are loneliness and alienation properly conceived of as public health problems? What role can/should government interventions play in promoting flourishing?
- Literature and Media Studies: How are happiness, flourishing, loneliness, and alienation portrayed through stories and media? Do assessments of flourishing depend on the type of story being enacted by a life? How does our desire for narrative closure live in tension with our desire for judgment? How can particular literary sources, genres, and movements bear on contemporary debates about the good life?
- Fine Arts, Architecture, Urban Studies: How do our ideas of the good life take shape in the arts? How can the arts help us think about the good life in novel or more sophisticated ways? How have the design of buildings and built environments contributed to or detracted from a life well lived? Are sports, recreation, and leisure necessary for or hallmarks of a good life? How have the outdoor tourism and sports industries shaped our vision of the good life.
- Global Affairs/Area Studies: How is the good of the individual related to the good of their local or global community? How do cultures, religious beliefs, and lifestyles help determine the norms of a good life? How might a global understanding of the good life transcend particular national or ideological beliefs? What role does integral human development play in a global understanding of the good life?
The NDIAS is also interested in supporting artistic works—fiction writing, visual arts, musical composition, etc.—that challenge our perception or understanding of the good life.
The above list is a mere sampling of projects that fit with the theme: the NDIAS welcomes any research project that fits with The Good Life, whether or not it is explicitly specified above. The NDIAS also welcomes projects that fit the theme in creative or surprising ways.
Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of their potential for research impact, fit with the theme, and fit with the Institute’s mission.
Faculty Fellows receive half of their base salary per academic year (up to $75,000), subsidized housing (for those who currently reside outside of the South Bend area), a research allowance of $1,000 per year, and a private office at the NDIAS.
Fellows' home institutions provide the remainder of their salaries as well as all benefits, including health insurance.
Postdocs are welcome to apply and receive a stipend of up to $60,000 paid directly to them (rather than to a home institution). Postdocs are also provided health insurance benefits.
The Faculty Fellows will be joined by a cohort of Teaching Lab Fellows and Distinguished Graduate Fellows from Notre Dame who are pursuing their own projects related to The Good Life and collaborate with the Faculty Fellows during weekly research seminars and other NDIAS events.
Throughout the year, the NDIAS will organize robust programming to further explore the theme and cultivate collaboration, such as work-in-progress seminars, guest lectures, book clubs, film viewings, and social events.
The NDIAS aims to support Faculty Fellows who are committed to making their research accessible not only to scholars from across the disciplines, but also, crucially, to the broader public who will benefit from engagement with these ideas and debates.
The NDIAS also seeks Faculty Fellows who are engaged with the big questions that undergird their research—questions involving ethics, meaning, and purpose—and are eager to explore their depths with each other and the world.
At the NDIAS, Faculty Fellows present their research on these questions to their fellowship cohort, to faculty colleagues and special guests, and to the wider public each week during the NDIAS’s weekly seminars. These seminars come in a variety of formats, from masterclass sessions aimed at introducing key research components in an engaging way, to work-in-progress sessions aimed at workshopping a research challenge of the moment, to public-engagement sessions aimed at translating research insights for the public.
As part of their Fellowship, Faculty Fellows also participate in multi-day Fall and Spring retreats that foster collaboration and provide tools and training to engage in ethical research and discussion with multi-disciplinary audiences and the community. These retreats vary from year to year, but in the past they have included a workshop with a professional communications consulting group and a workshop with an opinion editor at The New York Times.
Participation in the NDIAS’s weekly seminars and communications retreats is required for all Faculty Fellows—they are central components to making our year a success and a defining feature of our program.
All Faculty Fellows are expected to reside in the South Bend area and to remain in residence at the University of Notre Dame during the period of their fellowship (except for vacation periods, holidays, and University breaks).
Faculty Fellows are expected to be free of their regular commitments and to have their primary office at the Institute so they may devote themselves full time to the work outlined in their research proposal and participate fully in the engaging and cooperative community of scholars at the Institute.
Faculty Fellows are also expected to attend weekly seminars, present their research twice during these seminars, and attend NDIAS retreats, communications workshops, and other special events.
Faculty Fellowships are open to scholars, scientists, social scientists, and artists in all disciplines who are conducting research related to The Good Life.
Faculty Fellows typically have a faculty appointment at their home institution, but the Fellowships are also open to independent researchers, public practitioners, postdoctoral scholars, those who have recently received their Ph.D. (or equivalent terminal) degree, those who are pursuing the creative arts, and faculty from Notre Dame. Scholars from outside the U.S. are welcome to apply–there are no citizenship requirements for these fellowships.
Current graduate students are eligible to apply only if they will receive their terminal degree by August 1, 2024.
One goal of the fellowship selection process is the creation of a diverse and collaborative community of scholars with a range of disciplines and academic ranks. Applicants who are members of traditionally under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.
Preference is given to those who can join the NDIAS for the entire academic year (August - May), but fellowships for shorter periods of time may be possible.
Applications for Faculty Fellowships must be submitted through Interfolio and should include the following:
- Completed online application form;
- Cover letter;
- Curriculum vitae (no more than four pages, single-spaced);
- Proposal abstract (no more than 400 words);
- Fellowship research proposal (no more than six pages double-spaced; research proposals may include a works-cited or bibliography page, which does not count toward the 6-page limit.). In the research proposal, applicants should provide an explanation of the project they intend to pursue at the NDIAS, including:
- How the proposed research aligns with the research theme and mission of the Institute (see ndias.nd.edu/about);
- Preliminary objectives for the research to be conducted (i.e., whether the research might result in a book, journal article, art work, etc.);
- The proposed work plan (including what research or work has already been accomplished, what will be done during the fellowship period, the methodology to be employed, and the organization of the scholarly project, book, or other work).
- Public-engagement proposal (no more than two pages, double sided). In the public-engagement proposal, applicants should explain how they plan to engage a public audience with their proposed research project (e.g., through a newspaper op-ed, public discussion, podcast episode, etc.).
- Two letters of reference. The letters should address the strength of the applicant’s proposed research project, its fit with the 2024-2025 theme of The Good Life, and the applicant’s collaborative potential and collegiality. (See FAQ page for common questions about letters of reference.)
- (Optional) Up to two pages of non-text materials supporting the research proposal.
Finalists will be asked to be available for a brief Zoom conversation with committee members during the final stage of the selection process.
Applications for Faculty Fellowships on The Good Life are due by Monday, October 2, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).