Photo of ice in the Arctic

Institute of Advanced Studies announces it will host a ‘Festival of Ideas’ alongside its two new Themes for 2020/21

Loughborough University’s Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) is delighted to announce their two Themes for the next academic year: Arctic and Time.

The IAS is an initiative designed to encourage collaboration in international research across all of Loughborough’s fields and disciplines, by enhancing established and emerging research partnerships and projects.

Arctic will be co-led by Professor Joanna Bullard and Dr Richard Hodgkins from the School of Social Sciences and Humanities with the support of a wider team.

The Arctic is changing rapidly and in ways that matter far beyond its variously defined boundaries. Did you know that Loughborough is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to Malaga in Spain?

In climate terms the Arctic is not our neighbour, it’s renting our spare room.

The vanishing ice of the Arctic Ocean promises to transform global shipping and business, which is why China is planning a polar extension to its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and why the US President wasn’t necessarily joking when he mentioned buying Greenland.

The great ice sheet which covers Greenland is a major source of sea-level rise, affecting the physical erosion of the coastline, the safety of people who live and work there, and even the cost of borrowing for tiers of government with coastal territory.

Time will be led by academics from various disciplines across the University, including Dr Alexandre Zagoskin, Dr Thoralf Klein, Dr Arianna Maiorani and Professor Peter Kawalek.

The critical importance of time for human and non-human activities puts it in the centre of any worldview, while its effects on the individual make it a very personal and affective experience.

The increasing importance of time in recent decades follows the developments of technology, the needs of the economy and the demands of politics - from fixed-term elections to automated stock trading, to coordinating political decisions with the news cycle - and produces a diverse field of interpretations in the sciences, humanities and economics, thus providing a fertile ground for interdisciplinary exchange.

Complementing its annual Themes, the Institute will also hold a ‘Festival of Ideas’ on the theme of Transition in May 2021.

The Festival of Ideas is a new initiative for the IAS and will be led by colleagues from the Gender and Identities Research Group.

Transitions will scrutinise historical periods of transition as well as the contemporary phenomenon of transitional anxiety and tensions as change becomes discernible in quotidian existence. The academic challenge when debating transition is how to theorise change and anticipate periods of transition in and across different disciplines.

Over the course of a fortnight, Transitions will bring together scholars, activists, artists and the public to critically examine crucial transitions and pave the way for more informed, cross-disciplinary thinking for future change.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Steve Rothberg commented: “The Institute of Advanced Studies has only been with us for a little over two years, but its inspiring programmes are bringing colleagues together from across all our disciplines in a way that we haven’t seen before.

“The Institute is also proving hugely successful in bringing the world’s best researchers to our campuses and I’m sure these new Themes and the Festival of Ideas will build on that success.”