Keep NIAS independent!
Petition in support of the continued existence of NIAS as an independent (financially and institutionally) and interdisciplinary centre of research in which renowned and promising researchers can live and work together in a suitable and conducive environment. Dear members of the NIAS Fellows Association and other scholars, writers, artists, This Tuesday we had a meeting with the rector of the NIAS, and in the meantime we have also collected some more information. The plans now seem to be as follows: -The Board of the Royal Dutch Academy is proposing to move the NIAS to Amsterdam, however, they have left the timing of this event very vague: ‘op termijn’, ‘at some point in the future’. -The NIAS will have to economize, like every other part of Dutch academia. -The NIAS will maintain its autonomy where its academic program is concerned. However, its administration will be combined with that of the other Humanities institutes. -Although the new institutional framework is labeled ‘Humanities Institute’, the Board of the Academy insists on maintaining the interdisciplinary character of the NIAS, especially with respect to the place of the Social Sciences, and the collaboration with the Sciences (Lorentz Center). -The Academy notes that the infrastructure necessary to serve the NIAS community should be further investigated. The bad news, then, is that at some point in the future, the NIAS will probably have to leave Wassenaar. Professor Hulk has informed us that the NIAS leadership is supporting this move, because the buildings in Wassenaar need a lot of maintenance and this will take up an increasing part of the NIAS budget, which, of course, should primarily be spent on the academic part of the program. Although this is surely correct, we are not sure that it will be possible to find cheaper housing arrangemens in Amsterdam. At this point then, we suggest that the Board of the Academy allows the outcome of the further investigation to determine, first, WHETHER the NIAS should be moved, and only secondarily, if the answer to the first question is in the affirmative, HOW, WHEN and WHERE this should be done. The NFA board also stresses the importance of having an attractive location that allows the formation of an international research community that lives and works together. The sister institutes, like Princeton and Berlin, still adhere to this principle and we think NIAS should do so as well. Such an environment provides a unique opportunity to attract international and national researchers of esteem. This also effects the plans to merge the administrative and financial aspects of the NIAS with that of the Amsterdam-based Humanities Institutes. The present policy of the NIAS, as formulated in the document From Cloister to Beehive (see website NIAS) stresses independence. Despite the soothing words of the press release, we are nevertheless very concerned: we fear that incorporation into a Humanities Cluster in Amsterdam would pose a serious threat to NIAS' financial (and institutional) independence. Although the Academy proposal seems to safeguard the interdisciplinarity aspired to by NIAS, names do make a difference, and incorporation into a Humanities cluster gives off the wrong signal. Our proposal is to offer this online petition to the Royal Academy of Sciences in support of the continued existence of NIAS as an independent (financially and institutionally) and interdisciplinary centre of research in which renowned and promising researchers can live and work together. We hope all of you will sign this week, in time for the meeting of the Royal Academy on June 10th. We very much hope to obtain all of your support and to hear of other ideas to achieve the above. Kind regards, The NFA Board (Annelou van Gijn, Ineke Sluiter en Julia Noordegraaf)