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The Exploratory Fund

The Exploratory Fund was established in 2015 to support Members who wish to work together, and with other scholars, experts, and practitioners, to look over the horizon for issues and opportunities not well understood, to think of problems in a fresh way, and to search for connections between research and policy that advance the common good. Through the Exploratory Fund, the Academy is committed to encouraging forward-thinking collaborations that incorporate diverse perspectives and bring together creative thinkers and leaders representing a range of disciplines, career stages, backgrounds, and experiences.

Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis and awarded funds to cover the costs associated with an Exploratory Meeting. The Exploratory Fund has supported proposals on a wide array of topics, including The Future of Jazz in America, Women and Equality, and Understanding the New Nuclear Age. Members are encouraged to contact the Academy President to discuss their ideas for Exploratory Meetings. For more information, please contact: nlefebvre@amacad.org, Morton L. Mandel Presidential Fellow.

CURRENT EXPLORATORY PROJECTS


Moving Towards Equality: Mapping Women’s Achievements and Challenges around the World

Developing Project (TBD)
Cambridge, MA

Concept: In December 2016, Academy Members Nannerl Keohane and Frances McCall Rosenbluth convened a meeting to explore the social, political, and economic realities for women across multiple, diverse contexts. At the recommendation of meeting participants, the Academy will host a follow-up conference to delve deeper into the topic—considering, for example, how women exercise influence as leaders, managers, mothers, and citizens to make changes in their communities, and how women relate to power. The proposed agenda will cover five major areas: Work and the Economy; the Care Agenda; Vulnerability and Resilience; Innovation in Global Development; and Feminism, Intersectionality, and Inclusion. In addressing these topics, conference participants will explore gendered power structures globally in a way that pushes beyond the selective focus on women who have “made it.”

Chair: Nannerl O. Keohane (Princeton University) and Frances McCall Rosenbluth (Yale University)


Technology and the Future of Work

Developing Project (TBD)
Cambridge, MA

Concept: Recent studies have revealed wide-ranging concerns among experts and leading institutions about how advances in technology, from automation to artificial intelligence, will impact workers in the United States and globally over the next several decades. Reports from the White House, the National Academies, and others have emphasized the potential for these technologies to drive economic growth and social progress, as long as potential risks are managed. The Academy is in the early stages of convening an exploratory meeting to develop new research agendas on this topic by bringing together leading experts from diverse fields, including AI researchers, education and labor experts, philosophers, and social scientists. Potential objectives of such a meeting could be to advance knowledge on trends in the social acceptance of these technologies, evaluate new paths in education and training for workers, and explore the impact of new public policies in these areas.


Science and the Legal System

July 20–21, 2017
Cambridge, MA

As the overlap between scientific learning and legal issues increases, leading scientists reportedly shy away from involvement with the legal system or have difficulties communicating their knowledge. Despite the importance of this issue, there are few systematic studies on how scientists view the legal system or their experiences as consultants to lawyers or judges or as expert witnesses. Academy Members Shari Diamond and Richard Lempert are leading an initiative to learn what motivates scientists to participate in legal processes and recommend ways to improve the relationship between science and the law. In July they will chair a meeting at the House of the Academy for legal scholars and scientists to work together on a publication examining this topic.

Chairs: Shari Diamond (Northwestern University) and Richard Lempert (University of Michigan)

COMPLETED EXPLORATORY PROJECTS


Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of Global Governance

June 12, 2017
Cambridge, MA

Academy Member Jack Snyder chaired an exploratory meeting that brought scholars and experts from the fields of political science, international affairs, bioethics, and government to the House of the Academy on June 12, 2017. The goal of the meeting was to examine whether there might be a common taproot behind the nationalist and populist movements that have recently emerged across the globe, and to look at how these movements relate to the existing multilateral architecture of global institutions. Participants also assessed any new forms of international cooperation or conflict that could emerge from these movements, and discussed concerns about the potential for political violence and related threats to democracy, liberty, equality, economic development, and international stability.

Chair: Jack Snyder (Columbia University)


The Future of Public Media

June 5, 2017
New York, NY

The Future of Public Media
Back row: Tom Streeter (University of Vermont), Jonathan Abbott (WGBH), Geoffrey Sands (McKinsey & Company), Cynthia Fenneman (American Public Television), Virginia Roach (Fordham University), Al Sikes (FCC); front row: Josh Weston (ADP), Laura Walker (New York Public Radio), Henry Arnhold (Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder Holdings, Inc.), Jonathan Fanton (American Academy), Bishop Frank Caggiano (Archdiocese of Hartford); front: Bill Baker (Fordham University)

In 1967, the U.S. Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act and the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television released its first and most influential report. On the fiftieth anniversary of these landmark events, Academy Member Bill Baker convened a meeting of scholars, media executives, journalists, and other experts to discuss the future of public media. In the same spirit as the Carnegie Commission, participants spoke to the potential of public media, but also frankly assessed where it fit within a profoundly altered American media landscape, and what its continued role, if any, might be over the next fifty years and beyond. Participants also shared their hopes for public media and discussed what current trends could mean for American media and the American people.

Chair: Bill Baker (Fordham University)


Children of Immigrants in New Places of Settlement

April 20–21, 2017
Cambridge, MA

Children of Immigrants in New Places of Settlement
Participants at the meeting on Children of Immigrants in New Places of Settlement.

Immigrant children and children of immigrants are the fastest growing component of America’s young population, now comprising one-in-four of all persons aged 18 and younger. Too little is known about their experiences in receiving communities, especially as increasing numbers move beyond major cities and into small towns and rural areas across the U.S. South and Midwest. Under the leadership of Academy Member Alejandro Portes, thirteen scholars from across the United States and Mexico, representing the fields of sociology, education, anthropology, history, and economics, met at the House of the Academy to review the current literature on this population, discuss their concerns, and outline ideas and priorities for the future.

Chair: Alejandro Portes (Princeton University)


Building and Strengthening the JCPOA

February 5–6, 2017
Cambridge, MA

The implementation of the Iran Nuclear Agreement offered an historic opportunity to assess the state of arms control diplomacy, to distill lessons learned, and to suggest a framework for future international negotiations among the countries in the Persian Gulf and surrounding region. On February 5–6, 2017, Academy Members Robert Rosner and Donald Lamb chaired a meeting at the House of the Academy that brought together a diverse group of thinkers, including former government officials experienced in negotiations with Iran, heads of think tanks, and scholars of nuclear studies and regional issues. The group discussed opportunities and questions raised by the JCPOA and pathways toward fruitful conversations involving P5+1 representatives, technical experts, policy-makers, and government officials.

Chairs: Robert Rosner (University of Chicago) and Don Lamb (University of Chicago)


Women and Equality Planning Meeting

Women and Equality Planning Meeting
Frances McCall Rosenbluth, Nannerl O. Keohane, Rose McDermott, and Debora Spar

December 10, 2016
Cambridge, MA

Many take for granted that women should share with men equal access to political, economic, and social resources and leadership. The lived experiences of women, however, vary enormously: by country, by sector of the economy, by class, by race, and by a large number of other factors. On December 10, 2016, Academy Members Nannerl O. Keohane and Frances McCall Rosenbluth convened a small meeting at the House of the Academy that included scholars from the fields of sociology, economics, political science, and history. Participants explored new and comprehensive ways of thinking about social, political, and economic realities for women across multiple, diverse contexts. At the recommendation of meeting participants, the Academy will host a larger international conference in December 2017 on the topic of women and equality.

Chairs: Nannerl O. Keohane (Princeton University) and Frances McCall Rosenbluth (Yale University)


R2P: Cultural Heritage

November 29 – December 1, 2016
London, England

An increase in attacks on cultural heritage sites since 2013, especially in Syria and Iraq, has raised questions and concerns about how best to protect irreplaceable heritage. In partnership with the J. Paul Getty Trust, Academy Member James Cuno convened a group of world renowned museum directors and specialists in international law and doctrine formation to discuss what role the international community could play in protecting the cultural heritage of countries in warfare. The group drew on the Responsibility to Protect Norm, adopted by the United Nations in 2005, as a foundation for thinking about possible new frameworks for protecting cultural heritage sites.

Chair: James Cuno (J. Paul Getty Trust)


Best Practices in Philanthropic Funding

October 17–18, 2016
Cambridge, MA

As U.S. government funding for research and other services continues to decline, non-governmental funders, including foundations, corporations, individuals, and even foreign governments, have provided crucial support in a wide range of fields. At the same time, there have been instances, both real and perceived, in which donors may have exercised undue influence on their grantees. Academy Member Larry Kramer convened a meeting at the House of the Academy on October 17-18, 2016, which brought together university and government officials, heads of foundations, media representatives, and researchers. Participants considered whether a statement of best practices could protect the integrity of research, the reputations of donors, and the independence of recipients.

Chair: Larry Kramer (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)


Preserving Intellectual Legacies in a Digital Age

September 22–23, 2016
Cambridge, MA

Preserving Intellectual Legacies in a Digital Age
Participants at the meeting on Preserving Intellectual Legacies in a Digital Age.

As scholars become more dependent on digital technology to preserve and archive their scholarly findings, concerns about how to make intellectual production available to future generations have grown. On September 22–23, 2016, Academy Members Pamela Samuelson, Carla Hesse, and Robert Darnton convened a meeting of authors, publishers, librarians, lawyers, archivists, and public policy experts representing an array of disciplines and backgrounds to address these concerns. Participants raised questions about the equitable transmission of scholarly and cultural knowledge and discussed new possibilities for scalable methods of digital publication and preservation.

Chairs: Pamela Samuelson (University of California, Berkeley); Carla Hesse (University of California, Berkeley); and Robert Darnton (Harvard University)


Native Americans and Academia

August 21–23, 2016
Cambridge, MA

On August 21–23, 2016, Academy Members Philip J. Deloria, Loren Ghiglione, and Douglas Medin, along with Ned Blackhawk, Bryan Brayboy, K. Tsianina Lomawaima, and Mark Trahant, convened a meeting that brought Native American scholars, experts on Native American issues, and Native American tribal leaders to the House of the Academy. Participants discussed critical issues related to Native American representation in academia, such as the future of Native American students and scholars and new intellectual directions for scholarship on American Indian people. The group also considered how academics could, through serious engagement with Native American issues, develop new models for thinking about social diversity, politics, and law that address some of the burdens of American history.

Chairs: Philip J. Deloria (University of Michigan); Loren Ghiglione (Northwestern University); Douglas Medin (Northwestern University)

in collaboration with Ned Blackhawk (Yale University), Bryan Brayboy (Arizona State University), K. Tsianina Lomawaima (Arizona State University), and Mark Trahant (University of North Dakota)


The Future of Jazz in America

May 19, 2016
Cambridge, MA

The Future of Jazz in America
Participants at the meeting on The Future of Jazz in America.

Inspired by their concerns over the changing popular profile and diminished radio exposure of jazz music, Academy Members and jazz enthusiasts Felton Earls and William Damon convened a meeting at the House of the Academy on May 19, 2016. They brought together jazz scholars, performers, business leaders, philanthropists, and fellow enthusiasts to discuss issues related to performance and outreach, the business of jazz, and jazz education. The group also began planning an issue of Dædalus, which will be guest edited by Gerald Early and Ingrid Monson and explore why jazz still matters.

Chairs: Felton Earls (Harvard University) and William Damon (Stanford University)


Bridging the Gap between Area and Global Studies

March 7, 2016
Cambridge, MA

With the divides between area and global studies widening, Academy Member Arthur Kleinman chaired a meeting of scholars from across the United States and the United Kingdom to develop novel ways of easing these longstanding tensions. On March 7, 2017, at the House of the Academy, participants worked to identify and better understand impediments to collaboration between the fields and to develop initial steps toward strengthening and sustaining cross-disciplinary relationships. The meeting also provided an opportunity for scholars to explore broader questions about how knowledge might be reorganized and institutionalized to support twenty-first-century scholarship.

Chair: Arthur Kleinman (Harvard University)


Collaborative on Autism and Sign Language

December 12–13, 2015
Cambridge, MA

On December 12–13, 2015, Academy Members Mark Aronoff, Susan Goldin Meadow, and Charles Nelson, in collaboration with Matthew Lerner, convened a meeting of the Consortium on Autism and Sign Language at the House of the Academy. The meeting brought together scholars from more than nine fields and nineteen universities for the purpose of advancing novel hypotheses about the emergence of communication in autism by leveraging methods and insights from the latest research on sign language. Participants also welcomed and integrated the voices of people from autistic and deaf communities into their plans for developing a cross-disciplinary research agenda on the nature of communication in these populations.

Chairs: Mark Aronoff (State University of New York at Stony Brook); Susan Goldin Meadow (University of Chicago); Charles Nelson (Harvard University)

in collaboration with Matthew Lerner (Stony Brook University)


Making Justice Accessible

November 11–12, 2015
Cambridge, MA

By some estimates, only 20 percent of qualified Americans receive the necessary aid they require as they move through the American justice system. Millions are left unaided and unable to negotiate a complicated legal system on their own. To begin addressing this critical issue, Academy Members John Levi, Martha Minow, and Lance Liebman chaired a meeting of more than fifty judges and justices, chief justices, legal scholars, and lawyers at the House of the Academy. Participants discussed issues ranging from fees and the difficulty of navigating the court system to the role of corporations in providing pro bono representation and the use of technology in the legal profession. An Academy project on Making Justice Accessible: Data Collection and Legal Services for Low-Income Americans has been developed from this meeting.

Chairs: John Levi (Legal Services Corporation; Sidley Austin, LLP); Martha Minow (Harvard Law School); Lance Liebman (Columbia Law School)


Understanding the New Nuclear Age

June 19, 2015
Cambridge, MA

As the foundations and principles that defined the nuclear order after the World War II and during the Cold War shift and evolve, new challenges confront the international community. On June 19, 2015, Academy Member Robert Legvold chaired a meeting at the House of the Academy that brought together a group of experts in international security. The participants examined recent changes in the dynamics of the nuclear order, explored the effect of new technologies on nuclear strategies, and assessed how future arms control agreements could be designed to address these changes. The meeting has since developed into an Academy project in the Global Security and International Affairs program area.

Chair: Robert Legvold (Columbia University)