2021-2022: Resilience

During the 2021-2022 academic year, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study is sponsoring residential research projects that will deepen our understanding of Resilience. This project brings together humanists, scientists, social scientists, legal scholars, and artists to consider how organisms, people, species, and social structures adapt or fail to adapt to novel challenges and the ethical implications of such adaptation.

Potential research proposal topics on resilience may address, but are not limited to:

  • Law and policy-focused issues: e.g., how social and environmental systems might adapt to climate change; how public health systems might adapt to pandemics; how institutions adapt to technological disruptions; how cultural groups respond to oppression; topics where multiple policy spheres overlap; historical analyses of how systems responded (or failed to respond) to shocks.
  • The downsides of resilience: e.g., predicting and responding to genetic alterations of pathogenic viruses and bacteria; issues with understanding cancer pathology; understanding the efficacy of terrorist groups; the threats posed by self-directed AI systems.
  • Philosophical and theological investigations: e.g., whether resilience is a moral virtue; moral theory related to extinction, preservation, and adaptation; the role that adaptability has played in sacred texts and traditions; resilience in the history of religious communities.
  • Health, psychology, disability studies, and individual resilience: e.g., a study of the personality traits or situations that promote psychological resilience; how context, culture, or built-environment affects assessments of resilience.
  • Engineering and design: e.g. how we build more adaptable structures; how we measure adaptability in different systems and environments.
  • Theoretical analyses: e.g., an exploration of whether resilience emerges from intrinsic features of an individual or system or is primarily determined by environment; discussion of whether resilience in a particular domain is better understood as resistance to change (rather than adaptability).
  • Creative projects and research into the fine arts: e.g., artistic works that explore dimensions of resilience through music, visual arts, fiction, dance, and other fine arts; scholarship on artistic engagement with resilience.

Projects can explore resilience at different durations or scales. We encourage proposals that consider novel ways to translate models of resilience from one disciplinary domain to another. We aim to recruit a diverse, dynamic cohort of scholars who--by virtue of the year of deep collaboration and intensive research--will advance our common understanding of how systems respond to change.

Meet the 2021-2022 Fellowship Class