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A gift to free research

Director Morten Kyndrup predicts that the story of AU’s new research institute, AIAS, will be a story of heroes and villains, good guys and bad guys, battles, victories and defeats.

Are excellent research and dialogue between the disciplines reason enough for Aarhus University to establish Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS)? Especially since many institutes and centres at AU have already achieved excellent results.

The director for AIAS, Professor Morten Kyndrup, raised this question at the opening of the latest shoot on the AU research branch.

“Some might say: Is that all we’re getting?” Morten Kyndrup predicted and answered the question himself: “Definitely a lot more.”

A symbolic gift

According to Morten Kyndrup, “a lot more” is  the intellectual generosity of which the new institute is an expression. Both as a specific gift but also as a symbolic gift to free research as such.

“And it definitely is also a symbolic gift that Aarhus University is giving itself,” Morten Kyndrup said. He believes that the university will grow with this gesture.

“Not necessarily with regard to results. But in importance, in symbolic power and in its status on the mental world map of international research.”

Not the same “we”

That answer might still lead someone to ask: “But what will we get out of it in the long run?” Apart from excellent research results from the research fellows at AIAS.”

AIAS’ director answers this question by saying that we cannot know for sure.

“If we could, this wouldn’t have the status of a true gift but would rather be yet another strategic step at an average, instrumental university,” Morten Kyndrup said and added:

“Of course we have hopes, expectations, visions, just like all characters have in the beginning of a story. But we do not know the end of the story or its specific course. However, as we ourselves are part of the story, it is also up to us to influence it along the way,” stated the director for AIAS, who also has a background as a literary historian.

The “we” Morten Kyndrup refers to is not a clearly defined entity. There is both an AIAS we and an AU we.

“AIAS definitely is part of the university and has to be.  But there is a minor difference which is to be made clear and maintained. It will actually be quite critical for the story of AIAS in the years to come. If the two “wes” melt together, you would be right to ask: Why an institute for advanced studies? On the other hand, if the two “we’s” drift apart, then why should AU have the institute and spend its resources on it?”

A story of heroes and villains

Morten Kyndrup believes that the story of AIAS will be a continuing process where “we” at AIAS and “we” at AU will melt together and drift apart in permanent negotiation and adaptation.

“It will be a story of heroes and villains, good guys and bad guys, and of course of battles, victories and defeats. The story is only beginning, and how it will unfold is a matter of which “we” will tell the story. The story of today has a continuously more complex narrative construction and in that sense, the story of AIAS will be modern for certain. And that is a good thing,” Morten Kyndrup stated to the guests at the opening of a new chapter at Aarhus University.