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Oct. 20, 2000 

Princeton awarded Henry R. Luce Professorship in Information Technology, Consciousness and Culture

Princeton, N.J. -- Princeton University has received a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to create the Henry R. Luce Professorship in Information Technology, Consciousness, and Culture. A wide-ranging search to fill the position will begin this fall.

The Luce professor will work with colleagues across the University to broaden the impact of the humanities and social sciences on work at the cutting edge of information technology and cognitive neuroscience, and to place the consequences of that work in historical and cultural perspective.

As neuroscience stands poised to trace executive functions of the mind, such as memory and reasoning, to the physical mechanisms of the brain -- and computer science is coming closer to replicating those functions -- it is more important than ever that those in the humanities and social sciences engage in interpreting and shaping the scientific agenda.

"This is an ideal time for the creation of this professorship," said Associate Provost S. Georgia Nugent, who led the grant proposal process and will also lead the search for a scholar to fill the position. "We are at a critical historical moment, and faculty members from a wide range of disciplines are eager to work together to explore both the possibilities and the limits of the technologies we create as well as to understand them in the context of the human sciences."

The award, for an amount to be determined when the appointment is made, represents a six-year commitment by the Luce Foundation to support the professorship with a possible three-year extension. The professorship will continue as part of the University faculty at the end of the grant period.

"Today there are few issues that touch us as deeply as the question of what it means to be human in the face of these new technologies," said University President Harold T. Shapiro. "The topic is one that has both urgency and widespread appeal for our faculty and students -- and, we believe, for our society. We are grateful to the Luce Foundation for helping Princeton to explore these important issues."

The Henry R. Luce Professorship Program encourages innovation through integrative and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and research. The Program represents a commitment to intellectual experimentation and creativity in American higher education, focused on the humanities and social sciences. It was created in 1968 to honor Luce, an influential American journalist.

The Foundation awards two to three professorships each year, based on a competitive process.