Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Institute for Advanced Study fellowship deadline next week

The deadlines have not yet passed for some superb fellowship opportunities, but you'll have to act quickly. Remember that an excellent place to search for fellowships is the database on the American Historical Association website.

Upcoming next week, November 15: deadlines for the School of Social Science and the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. Application information is here for SSS and here for HS. Historical Studies also has fellowships specifically for assistant professors and recently tenured scholars. Look for information on the Mellon and ACLS/Burkhardt fellowships here.

Note to historians: you can apply to both at the same time. Pitch your application to each program as seems appropriate.

No time to pull this together for next week? Well, actually, this would be the right time to begin planning for next year's round of fellowship applications. Some tips are here and here. For those who've been applying this year, it's not hard to generate a new application when you've already written one (and more important, it's not an imposition to kindly ask references to send a letter, already written, to another place).

The School of Social Science has a theme every year, however they welcome applications that do not fit the theme as well. Next year's theme is: Social Norms and Cooperation.
Social norms are necessary for human cooperation: only if individuals know what behavior is acceptable and what is not are they likely to act collaboratively in their group, community, or society. Even so, such norms are not sufficient for collaboration. One norm may conflict with another, and within the same society different groups may disagree about what the shared standards should be. Because of the importance of social norms and the contention they generate, their analysis embraces virtually all the social sciences (as well as other disciplines such as neuroscience, ecology, and evolutionary biology). Thus, for example, ethnographers detail the great variability in norms (and the penalties for breaching them) across different cultures. Historians study the factors that lead to changes in the rules of conduct for social, family and sexual interaction. Economists are interested in the extent to which trade forces people to trust that their fellow traders share the same norms of behavior. Legal scholars examine the interplay between mores, whose violation carries informal sanctions, and laws, for which there are institutionalized mechanisms for punishment. Political theorists and political scientists argue about which duties are required of citizens if democracy is to function properly--and what the consequences from failing to meet those obligations are or should be. Social psychologists seek to understand the remarkable power norms have to channel conduct in socially prescribed directions, while psychoanalysts try to explain the large variation in individual behavior that occurs in spite of these norms. How do prescriptions for behavior become social norms? How do norms serve to promote cooperation? What are their other effects? The thematic year will be planned by Institute professor Eric S. Maskin, in consultation with Simon A. Levin, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Deborah A. Prentice, Professor of Psychology, from Princeton University.

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