Global Collaborative Research Fund projects selected

The first recipients of grants from the Princeton Global Collaborative Research Fund have been selected by the Council for International Teaching and Research for the study of topics ranging from 21st-century urban architecture to new planets to security issues in East Asia.

Created in 2008, the fund facilitates international scholarly networks that engage Princeton with centers of learning worldwide by allocating grants to sustain collaborative initiatives on significant global issues and scholarship, and to promote career development of scholars at all stages. The six grants range from $32,000 to $225,000 covering a three-year period beginning in fall 2009.

The goal is to enhance Princeton scholars' leadership in global research networks by creating international communities of scholars engaged in cutting-edge global research. The fund is part of a series of internationalization initiatives outlined by President Shirley M. Tilghman and Provost Christopher Eisgruber in fall 2007.

The grants have been awarded to networks coordinated by 15 faculty members representing the School of Architecture; the departments of astrophysical sciences, German, mathematics, sociology and politics; and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

"The call for proposals was a resounding success. The council evaluated 28 final submissions of extremely high quality," said Jeremy Adelman, director of the Council for International Teaching and Research. "We are especially pleased that our awardees represent such a diverse set of disciplines and topics, and will be engaging with colleagues and institutions from all corners of the globe. These networks will help our colleagues and students participate in ongoing discussions and locate Princeton as a major player in international higher education."

The selected networks and their coordinating faculty members are:

• 21st-Century Infrastructure (Mario Gandelsonas, architecture). The Center for Architecture, Urbanism and Infrastructure is supporting a wide-ranging interdisciplinary project to explore alternative ways of thinking about urban infrastructure in the new century as metropolitan regions around the globe are being reshaped by new technologies and practices in communication, transportation, finance and work. Scholars from Princeton, the Institute d'Etudes Avancées in Paris and Tonji University in Shanghai will present their research in a series of seminars and working sessions on topics such as transportation, energy, digital infrastructure, water and landscape, and design. The network recognizes the need for new interdisciplinary expertise, based on pooled understandings of new developments in Asia, Europe and the Americas, to confront the problems facing global cities and regions.

• A Worldwide Investigation of Other Worlds (Edwin Turner, astrophysical sciences). An international network focused on the investigation of exoplanets -- which orbit other stars, not the sun -- will be formed with major nodes in Princeton and Japan and connections to groups in Spain, Germany and Australia. This global web will be built on a set of existing, primarily observational, collaborative research projects involving Princeton faculty with colleagues in these countries. It will be expanded geographically to include partners in new institutions and countries as well as programmatically to include new research initiatives, particularly theoretical ones. The grant will support working visits for researchers between Princeton and the international partner research centers, with particular priority given to junior researchers. The initial participants include eight Princeton astrophysics and engineering faculty members plus seven foreign scientists, along with their associated research groups.

• TRAM: Training, Research and Motion Network (Igor Rodnianski, Andrei Okounkov and Anna Wienhard, mathematics). The Department of Mathematics will create global partnerships for the mentoring of aspiring undergraduate and graduate students to enable them to travel among institutions and work with senior mathematicians located in partner hubs. The network coordinators have identified four critical fields around which to create these exchanges, reflecting not only some cutting edges of the discipline, but core strengths of Princeton's mathematics department: algebraic and symplectic geometry; applied mathematics; Lie groups and representations; and probability and mathematical physics. Partner institutions will include: the Beijing International Center for Mathematical Research; the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany; the Centre for Mathematical Sciences of the University of Cambridge; the Israeli Cluster of Excellence of Mathematics, comprising the mathematics departments of Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science; and the Independent University of Moscow.

• Princeton Kafka Network (Stanley Corngold, Michael Jennings and Joseph Vogl, German). The Princeton Kafka Network will build on two existing communities -- the departments of modern German literature, literary and cultural studies, and media at Humboldt University in Berlin and the Oxford Kafka Research Center -- to establish a collaborative system to explore the writings of Franz Kafka. The theoretical side of this project aims to negotiate two dominant approaches to Kafka's work. The first is a philologically intense study of the work considered as its own textual system. The second approach treats the work as a nexus of the main discourses of European modernity: theological, economic, biographical, existential, gender-political, psychoanalytic and Marxist. Kafka's writings offer an ideal focus for an international and interdisciplinary conversation on a subject matter and a critical methodology at the center of modern literary and cultural study. This initiative is cosponsored by the Council of the Humanities.

• State Building in the Developing World (Miguel Centeno, sociology and Woodrow Wilson School; and Atul Kohli and Deborah Yashar, politics and Woodrow Wilson School).
This project focuses on the question of how and why some parts of the developing world ended up with relatively more effective states than others. The project will investigate the impact of colonialism and more recent determinants of state building, such as revolutionary and nationalist movements, external dependencies, military governments and transitions to democracy. The Princeton scholars aim to create a global network of scholars to improve the comparative analysis of states and their development. This initial network will include Princeton colleagues as well as scholars from other universities in the United States and partnerships with the University of São Paulo in Brazil, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and the Centre for Policy Research and the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India.

• Five-University Research Collaboration on East Asia Security Cooperation (John Ikenberry, Thomas Christensen, Aaron Friedberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter, politics and Woodrow Wilson School).
This network will support a sustained discussion concerning East Asian security cooperation and regional governance, with institutional partners in Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul and Singapore. The partnership will be organized around an annual research workshop hosted on a rotating basis by the five universities, along with graduate student visits and teleconferencing exchanges. As East Asia is undergoing extraordinary change with the rise of China, the normalization of Japan and the ongoing nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, this network will bring faculty and graduate students together to study and debate the evolving constraints and opportunities for new forms of regional governance. Working groups will be formed to explore specific facets of security and institutional cooperation as well as political questions about the character of regional boundaries, cultural identities and Asian versus Western styles of governance. This initiative is cosponsored by the Program in East Asian Studies.

More information about these projects is available online.