The Institute for Human Sciences (2002–2009)

The Center for the Study of Europe at Boston University was preceded by the Institute for Human Sciences (IHS) at Boston University:

The IHS was established in November 2001 as a joint initiative of the University and the Vienna-based Institut fur die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM), an independent, interdisciplinary center for advanced study in the humanities and social sciences, and Boston University. The undertaking was propelled by political circumstances: changes in relations between New and Old Worlds wrought by the collapse of the bipolar world order at the end of the 20th century and the imminent enlargement of the European Union at the beginning of the 21st. The mission of the IHS was to promote research and debate among European and American intellectuals and policymakers and to encourage frank and informed discussion of public policy issues of special relevance to both the United States and Europe.

The mission has been largely accomplished: political conditions are altered, and the IHS has ceased operations as of June 2010. The presence of the IHS at Boston University between 2002 and 2010 reinforced the University’s commitment to interdisciplinary education while contributing to its goal of “preparing global citizens” by strengthening and expanding University connections to Boston and the world. We trust that our many collaborators within Boston University (the Center for International Relations, the literary journal AGNI, and especially, the new Center for the Study of Europe) will build on our efforts and will continue our work of bringing European voices to Boston. Meanwhile, the IWM has several new initiatives under way, and we encourage you to visit their website for updates.

Between 2002 and 2010, under the leadership of Irena Grudzinska Gross and Elizabeth Amrien, the IHS organized over 100 public events (lecture series, panel discussions, international conferences, film screenings, exhibits, and poetry readings), bringing to Boston University a number of leading politicians, writers, and other public figures. Our most successful initiative was an ongoing lecture series on the transatlantic relationship. Launched in November 2002 in response to growing tensions between the United States and Europe, the series set out to organize a continuous debate on the transatlantic relationship, on the role and image of the United States in Europe, and on the impact of “New Europe” (formerly East-Central Europe) on US foreign policy and, by extension, on international peace and security.

Other highlights include our “Poetry and Politics” and “Eurospective” series, both of which explored the complex relationships between language, politics, and culture; international conferences on “Media and Politics” and “The Future of Food“; the Milena Jesenská Fellowship Program for North American Journalists; and, together with the IWM, a long-term comparative project on social and international solidarity, bringing together European and American researchers, policymakers, and politicians to discuss issues of demographic development.

The institute was served by an international board of directors chaired by Krzysztof Michalski, rector of the IWM in Vienna and professor of philosophy at Boston University. Members of the board included Timothy Garton Ash, director, Center for European Studies, St. Antony’s College, Oxford; James Hoge, editor-in-chief, Foreign Affairs; Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University; Michael Mertes, state secretary, commissioner for federal, European, and foreign affairs, state chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany; Pierre Rosanvallon, director of studies, Centre de Recherches Politiques; Raymond Aron, EHESS, Paris, professor of modern and contemporary politics, Collège de France; Lilia Shevtsova, senior associate, Carnegie Moscow Center; Aleksander Smolar, senior research fellow at the CNRS, Paris, president, Stefan Batory Foundation, Warsaw; and Fareed Zakaria, editor-in-chief, Newsweek  International.

Speakers at the IHS included members of the European Commission (Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Franz Fischler, Franco Fratini, Danuta Huebner, and Vladimir Spidla); the former president of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski; the chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer; the former prime ministers of France Michel Rocard and Alain Juppe; former prime minister of Italy and its minister for interior Giuliano Amato; former prime minister of Saxony Kurt Biedenkopf; former defense minister of Germany Volker Ruehe; Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the European Parliament; Joschka Fischer, former foreign minister of Germany; Prince Schwarzenberg, now foreign minister of the Czech Republic; Slovenian philosopher Slavov Zizek; and international financier George Soros—as well as EU Ambassador John Bruton; several ambassadors from EU member states; and a number of internationally known writers including Simon Armitage, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Bernhard Schlink, and Adam Zagajewski. Journalists from the Boston Globe, Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the New Yorker, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, DIE ZEIT, Gazeta Wyborcza (Warsaw) and Respekt  (Prague) have taken part in or moderated many IHS events. (View our people directory for a complete list of IHS speakers since 2002.)

A big thanks to our speakers, to our many collaborators (within and outside the University), to our funders (the Ford Foundation, the European Commission Delegation in Washington, DC, the Duitsland Institut Amsterdam, and others), to our fellows, to the local diplomatic community in Boston, and most of all, to our public. Special thanks to the WBUR radio station for its ongoing coverage of our events. We are grateful to all of our supporters for helping to have made this (ad)venture in Boston such a success.

–Elizabeth Amrien, IHS Managing Director, July 2010