Each year, approximately 20 scholars are selected as Members in the School of Social Science. A completed doctorate or equivalent is required by the application deadline. Memberships are awarded at both the junior and senior levels and for the full academic year only. Members are expected only to pursue their own research and participate in the weekly seminar. The School is not wedded to any particular intellectual or disciplinary approach. While there is an organizing theme each year, each class of accepted fellows includes some who represent that thematic focus and others who do not. Applications are strongly encouraged from scholars across the social sciences, whether or not their research corresponds to the theme. Funding for Member stipends is individually negotiated, taking into account the applicant’s base salary and the level of sabbatical and other grant support that he or she can secure. In setting compensation, the School attempts to provide half of the current academic base salary for all Members, up to a maximum stipend of $65,000.


Applications must be filed electronically through the Institute’s online application system. They will be accepted beginning June 1. The deadline is November 1. It is expected that the selection process will be completed by mid-January, 2016.

The application requires online submission of a writing sample. The sample must be in English, no longer than 50 pages, and in Adobe Acrobat format. If you only have a hard-copy, such as a book, we suggest that you submit the PDF of a single chapter.

Click here for the online application, to begin or continue work on your application. When you have completed the application and are ready to submit it, remember that you will not be able to make any changes after submission. IMPORTANT: You should receive an email confirmation that the application has been received. If you have not received an email confirmation within one day, please email an inquiry to .

In the upcoming academic year, the Institute will again take part in a program sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies: the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars. Thanks to funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, these fellowships support more adventurous, more wide-ranging, and longer-term patterns of research than are current in the humanities and related social sciences. Applicants must submit to ACLS a research plan typically covering a 3 - 5 year  period, during which time one year could be spent as a Member at the Institute, either in the School of Historical Studies or the School of Social Science. Qualified candidates who would like to apply for affiliation with either School of the Institute for Advanced Study under the auspices of this program should visit ACLS’s website (



"Allégorie de la Justice," by Elie Delaunay, 1858,  Louvre, Paris
©musée du Louvre département des Arts graphiques

Theme for 2016 - 2017

The interface between law and social inquiry has long been a domain of analysis explored by legal scholars and social scientists. In recent decades, the emergence of contemporary critical legal thought, the flourishing of the “Law and” movements, the rise of New Legal Realism, Empirical Legal Studies, and Global Legal Pluralism, the renewed interest in Islamic law and indigenous rights, the debates regarding humanitarianism and human rights in international law have opened new avenues for theoretical approaches. In parallel, the work of law enforcement, the evolution of criminal justice, the phenomenon of mass incarceration, the repression of undocumented immigrants, the adjudication of asylum seekers, the creation of international courts, the judicialization of political affairs, and the politicization of judicial decisions have led to an increasing production of empirical research both qualitative and quantitative. It is this broad multidisciplinary field that the theme will explore.

What are the place, meaning and functions of the law, its institutions, and its professionals in contemporary society? How have values, norms and doctrines embedded in legal theories and practices changed over time and what legacies do they leave? How do legal systems vary across cultures and what sort of arrangements are made when they are confronted with one another? How are new technologies, such as DNA testing, or new knowledge, such as neuroscience, transforming legal practices? How do law and social sciences relate methodologically and is law an object for social scientific inquiry or does it have its own method of analysis? How are the legal disciplines responding to the dialogue with and critique from the social sciences and humanities? These are some of the questions we will address from the multiple perspectives of law, political theory, and penology, as well as history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, economics, and political science. The Law and the Social Sciences theme year will be led by Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor in the School, and Visiting Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.