The Trinity Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies aims to create a space and place for faculty as intellectuals to exchange ideas, read books, work on each other’s papers, and invite other scholars to campus to engage in ongoing discussions. TIIS has been founded on the belief that most problems will profit from being conceptualized in multiple ways and thus that interdisciplinary dialogue will invigorate our sense of what is possible, what is true, what needs to be said in our intellectual projects. The Institute has an interdisciplinary vocation in at least two senses. First, TIIS is interdisciplinary in the sense that it will be one place where scholars working within their disciplinary fields can have conversations with those who are outside their epistemological and methodological frameworks. Second, TIIS is interdisciplinary in the sense that its practice will consist of a deliberate, forceful, and conscious reaching out to include everyone, from the most junior to the most senior of faculty at Trinity and everyone in between. TIIS is not meant to be a substitute for the many interdisciplinary conversations already ongoing on campus and off, but rather a clearing-house for the energy that envelops our intellectual lives.
TIIS will offer at least four formal contexts for interdisciplinary conversation.
First, TIIS will sponsor four “Trinity Workshops” over the course of the academic year. The aim of these workshops will be to spark discussion and create connections over topics of interdisciplinary interest – both among Trinity faculty and between Trinity faculty and faculty from nearby colleges. Since the workshops will be aimed more at beginning discussions than offering the “final word” on a topic, they will be relatively informal in structure; we will put together panels that pair our faculty with faculty from institutions within driving range, with each person giving roughly a ten minute presentation, followed by a lively discussion. The goal of these workshops is to identify local communities of scholars working on common projects across disciplinary borders, here on campus and at colleges and universities within a driving radius.
Second, TIIS will sponsor a “reading group” seminar – called the “Trinity Seminar” – that will meet over the course of the academic year. Consisting of roughly ten faculty members, the seminar will be organized around a theme. We envisage this seminar as a formal site of intellectual circulation within the college. Welcoming a new set of participants each year, the reading group will offer a formal venue for a relatively large number of faculty (over the course of a few years). The goal of the “Trinity Seminar” is to create a sustained community of scholars from Trinity working on a particular problem or theme, with outcomes that might range from new or revised courses to published work inflected by the reading and discussions that have taken place.
Third, TIIS will sponsor, in the fall of 2013, its first Trinity Symposium, which will be an outgrowth of the Trinity Seminar from AY 2012-2013. The Symposium will invite five scholars from outside the campus to speak on the theme of the seminar. The one-day Symposium, which will be run by members of the Seminar, will be open to the entire campus community, and to the public. The goal of the Symposium is to refine the problems and questions that the Seminar participants discussed throughout the year for public presentations; and to allow the rest of the community to join the ongoing debate.
Finally, TIIS will sponsor a “Manuscript Fellowship Program” geared toward Trinity faculty members who are in the final stages of preparing a manuscript for submission to a press, or for publication. The faculty member who wishes to have his/her manuscript read by a group of faculty would work with us to select a group of faculty (five or six, with perhaps one person from outside the campus). The group would then read the manuscript and spend a daylong workshop discussing it (lunch and snacks provided). The participants in the workshop will receive a stipend, and the manuscript writer will be offered funds toward getting the manuscript to press.