Programs, Centers, Initiatives, and Projects

Program in Agrarian Studies

The Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale is an experimental, interdisciplinary effort to reshape how a new generation of scholars understands rural life and society. Its basic goal is to infuse categories of social science research in danger of becoming purely statistical and abstract with the fresh air of popular knowledge and reasoning about poverty, subsistence, cultivation, justice, art, law, property, ritual life, cooperation, resource use, and state action. The many hands from many disciplines that have shaped this program share three premises. The first is that any satisfactory analysis of agrarian development must begin with the lived experience, understandings, and values of its historical subjects. The second premise is that the study of the Third World (and what was, until recently, called the Second World) must never be segregated from the historical study of the West, or the humanities from the social sciences. In this spirit, the program aims to bring together streams of scholarship that are rarely in touch. Finally, the program is convinced that the only way to loosen the nearly hegemonic grip of the separate disciplines on how questions are framed and answered is to concentrate on themes of signal importance to several disciplines. By building a sustained community of interdisciplinary conversation and by demonstrating what creative trespassing can accomplish, it hopes to set a standard of integrative work that will act as a magnet. The program began formally in the 1991–1992 academic year, thanks to support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and Yale University.

Baltic Studies Program

The Baltic Studies Program is an interdisciplinary forum for the study of the Baltic Sea region, with an emphasis on the lands that comprise contemporary Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The program sponsors workshops, symposia, and lectures, and serves as a resource for and liaison among students and scholars whose work involves the Baltic region. The program hosts two visiting fellows from the region, appointed after a comprehensive international search held every other year.

Buddhist Studies Initiative

The study of Buddhism and Buddhist cultures has a long history at Yale stretching back to the nineteenth century. Several generations of scholars of Buddhism working at institutions around the world trained at Yale, and Yale has always been a global hub in the field of Buddhist studies, generating innovative research, ideas, and conversations. Under the auspices of the Council on East Asian Studies, the Yale Buddhist Studies Initiative brings together the various individuals and units at Yale interested in the scholarly study of Buddhism and coordinates the many associated scholarly events, courses, conferences, and outreach activities. We host visiting scholars, a lecture series, and conferences and other events focused on the study of Buddhism in all its contexts, with the aim of furthering the cross-disciplinary and transregional conversations that are of value to the global turn of the humanities at Yale.

Conflict, Resilience, and Health Program

The Conflict, Resilience, and Health Program is an interdisciplinary group that works to build resilience and health in communities aflicted by armed conflict or structural violence. The program engages with academics, practitioners, and policy makers to promote innovations in global health research and to evaluate resilience-building interventions.

Digital Tokugawa Lab

The Digital Tokugawa Lab is a collaboration of five scholars, inspired by the idea that some forms of knowledge production require a range of expertise and a scale of labor that cannot be covered by a single individual. The main project in the inaugural two years of the DTL is mapping Japan’s feudal territories across 270 years and down to each of the 60,000 villages. The resulting maps and geospatial objects will be freely accessible through a web interface. The project addresses a longstanding need. Tokugawa Japan has an enormous volume of surviving documentation and a sophisticated historiography. Comprehensive territorial maps, however, have only been published for a single year, and even these have been thwarted by the complex ownership structures of some regions. The DTL combines a close evaluation of archival maps and historical texts with digital techniques such as text mining, natural language processing, neural networks, and geodatabases. It is an experiment in several senses—in developing ways of handling very large quantities of information responsibly; in trying to communicate the results with full transparency about any uncertainties that remain unresolved; and in carrying out a form of intense, daily collaboration that remains uncommon for historians.

European Union Studies Program

The Yale Program in European Union Studies is devoted to furthering the knowledge of students, faculty, and other members of the Yale community about the European Union and European integration. Through a program of lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences, short-term visitors, and summer research and internship grants, it seeks to promote greater knowledge about and understanding of the European Union.

Fox International Fellowship Program

The goal of the Fox International Fellowship is to enhance mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries by promoting international scholarly exchanges and collaborations among the next generation of leaders. To accomplish this goal, the program seeks to identify and nurture those students who are interested in harnessing scholarly knowledge to respond to the world’s most pressing challenges. The program especially welcomes students enrolled in the social sciences and kindred disciplines in the professional schools. The Fox International Fellowship is a graduate student exchange program between Yale and twenty world-renowned partner universities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. There are more than five hundred alumni in the extensive Fox Fellowship network.

Genocide Studies Program

The Genocide Studies Program (GSP) seeks to put worldwide genocidal events into comparative context and thereby make them more comprehensible in order that such atrocities can one day be eradicated. Comparative genocide research seeks to yield predictors that could enable the prevention of future disasters before they gain momentum.

Begun in 1998 as an expansion of Yale’s Cambodian Genocide Program, the GSP today conducts research, holds regular seminars, and sponsors events pertaining to the comparative, interdisciplinary, historical, and policy issues relating to the phenomenon of genocide; provides training to researchers from aflicted regions; and maintains a heavily trafficked Web site and genocide database.

Geographically based Economic Data Project (G-Econ)

The purpose of this project is to develop a geophysically based global data set on economic activity (hence, G-Econ) for all terrestrial grid cells. Version G-Econ 3.1 includes 27,500 terrestrial grid cells and includes four years (1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005). The gridded data set estimates gross output at a 1-degree longitude by 1-degree latitude resolution. This is approximately 100 km by 100 km, which is somewhat smaller than the size of the major subnational political entities for most large countries (e.g., states in the United States, Länder in Germany, oblasts in Russia) and approximately the same size as the second-level political entities in most countries (e.g., counties in the United States).

The main effort of this research is to create data on gross cell product. In addition, the economic data has been merged with other important demographic and geophysical data such as climate, physical attributes, location indicators, population, and luminosity. This data set, which is publicly available to all not-for-profit researchers, will be helpful in environmental and economic studies of energy, environment, and global warming.

Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition

The Gilder Lehrman Center (GLC) is dedicated to the investigation and dissemination of knowledge about slavery and its legacies across all borders and all time. This includes the chattel slave system and its destruction as well as contemporary forms of coerced labor. The GLC accomplishes its mission by supporting original academic research in the form of research fellowships, scholarly working groups, international conferences, publications, and the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize. The GLC sponsors free public events, open to scholars, students, and the general community. Through digitized media, the center shares its resources with people across the globe. The network of secondary school teachers and students engaged in GLC educational workshops—domestic and international—is ever-expanding. Using the past to understand the present, the center is deeply committed to helping people across the globe understand the history of racialized slavery, its ongoing aftermaths, and enduring efforts to overcome injustice.

Begun in 1998 through the generosity of Yale alumni Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Center is a direct outgrowth of the scholarship and public outreach of the late founding director and Sterling Professor of History, David Brion Davis. Professor Davis retired from teaching in 2001 and directed the GLC until 2004. Since 2004 the center has been directed by David W. Blight, Sterling Professor of History.

Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization (YCSG) is devoted to examining the impact of our increasingly integrated world on individuals, communities, and nations. YCSG’s purpose is to support the creation and dissemination of ideas for seizing globalization’s opportunities and overcoming its challenges. The center is particularly focused on practical policies to enable the world’s poorest and weakest citizens to share in the benefits brought by globalization. It also explores solutions to problems that, even if they do not result directly from integration, are global in nature and can therefore be effectively addressed only through international cooperation.

The essence of the center’s strategy is collaboration, both with the rich intellectual resources of the Yale community and with a variety of institutions and individuals across the globe. In all its initiatives YCSG strives to enhance the connection of Yale with the international institutions charged with management of global challenges; thus, the center extends the intellectual reach of its work well beyond the Yale community, to connect with outside institutions and people as it endeavors to make its output policy relevant. YCSG engages with multilateral institutions and other global organizations in such a way as to contribute toward better understanding global problems and the formulation of their solutions as well as influencing the attitudes and actions of policymakers in favor of international cooperation.

The center’s core issues include global development, international trade, financial globalization, and global public goods, giving priority to issues of global governance, including mitigation of climate change and global peace and security. In the area of global peace and security, YCSG’s work is on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and halting global crime.

Hellenic Studies Program

This program offers a comprehensive program of instruction in the modern Greek language at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels and cooperates closely with the Center for Language Study at Yale University for the development of technology-based teaching aids for the acquisition and mastering of modern Greek and the enrichment of other Hellenic-oriented courses. In addition, it offers a variety of courses in modern Greek literature and culture as well as in Ottoman and modern Greek history, providing students with the opportunity to study postclassical Greece in a broad geographical, historical, and comparative context. The program also fosters courses in other departments, including Byzantine history and Byzantine history of art.

Center for Historical Enquiry and the Social Sciences (CHESS)

The Center for Historical Enquiry and the Social Sciences (CHESS) concerns itself with the interplay between history and the present, in the belief that its work will lead to fresh solutions to seemingly intractable contemporary problems. Because the historical dimension of social life is seldom fully understood—and therefore not adequately addressed—significant theoretical developments have too often been foreclosed. We aim to change that. By forging analytical tools to systematically examine the historical constraints and possibilities confronting social actors, the center expects to contribute to a fuller understanding of the range of possibilities for action inscribed in past and present.

This cross-disciplinary center also seeks to transcend the humanities and social sciences divide, bringing together a diverse complement of scholars to answer large questions that help us better understand the world we inhabit and seek to influence. The center’s scholars aim to create an environment in which we can learn from one another’s methodological expertise and substantive knowledge, and in which intellectual risks and experimentation are actively encouraged.

The centerpiece of CHESS is the weekly Friday workshop in which we collectively discuss precirculated papers. In addition, the center supports two annual conferences: a spring gathering focused on a general topic of interest and an annual winter graduate student conference. The center also supports ephemeral study groups designated by its constituent members. Finally, the center plans to launch courses organized around both significant scholarship in the historical social sciences and the variety of methods available to those pursuing scholarship in social science history.

Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE)

Effectively addressing poverty throughout the world requires large-scale changes to markets and policies. Governments and NGOs are rising to this challenge, taking evidence-based policies to ambitious new scales. However, there is a gap between that ambition and the existing evidence. Increasing the scale of an antipoverty intervention can change how it works, and only recently have social scientists begun to grapple with the complexities of scaling up interventions and applying them in new contexts. The goal of the new Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE) is to develop the science behind scaling up effective interventions, define that emerging research agenda, and scale-up a few promising interventions in the process. Y-RISE is building a new research network and will host academic network meetings and conferences, connect researchers to implementing partners, and make seed grants to develop new research. Its research will have direct policy implications and will publicize and advocate the policy lessons learned, advancing efforts to bring the most good to the most people.

InterAsia Initiative

The InterAsia Initiative is a collaborative, multi-institutional group that aims to shift paradigms of how Asia is conceptualized by promoting collaborative research, scholarly networking, and public policy connections. In addition to Yale University, the core members of the InterAsia Initiative include the Social Science Research Council, the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, the Global and Transregional Studies Platform at Göttingen University (Germany), Seoul National University Asia Center (Republic of Korea), and the Global Asia Initiative at Duke University. Established in 2013 with support from the Carnegie Corporation, the initiative pushes inquiries beyond nation-states, land-based demarcations, imperial zones, and cultural boundaries, promoting research and conversations that address transregional connections. For critical moments of interaction, it includes historical and contemporary periods.

Program in Iranian Studies

The Program in Iranian Studies promotes study of Iran, Afghanistan, and the Persianate cultural sphere, with emphasis on regional and international affairs, domestic political developments, as well as society, history, religion, art, art history, culture, law, medicine and public health, economy, and the environment. The program strives to reflect diverse views on foreign policy as well as nongovernmental voices and views of deprived groups such as women, intellectual descanters, religious and ethnic minorities, and nonconformists. It also encourages study of Iran and Afghanistan within the broader context of the Middle East, and especially in relation to neighboring Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other countries of the Persian Gulf, as well as Pakistan, India, China, and Central Asia.

Japan at the Crossroads Project

Japan is passing through an inflection point in its history that will define its future—perhaps irreversibly—for generations to come. The goal of the Japan at the Crossroads Project is to raise the level of interest in Japan, as well as deepen and broaden the understanding of Japan and its global challenges among Yale students, scholars, faculty, and visitors on campus. The project supports a postdoctoral fellow or visiting professor; a visiting speaker series; an annual international conference; and research fellowships for Yale faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students to support research on contemporary Japan.

Georg Walter Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy

The Georg Walter Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy promotes research and teaching about the interactions between politics and economics around the world. International and comparative political economy are critical and fast-growing areas of inquiry in the social sciences today. The program develops innovative activities and collaborations among faculty and students in a number of departments and schools across the University, including especially the departments of Economics and Political Science, as well as the Department of History and the Law School, to reflect the increasing synergies of these disciplines worldwide.

The many activities offered by the Leitner Program include a weekly political economy workshop and several conferences each year at which the leading research in related fields is presented and discussed. Recent conferences have focused on topics such as the Economics, Law, and Politics of the GATT/WTO; Distributive Politics; Redistribution, Public Goods, and Political Market Failures; Non-Democratic Regimes; and Politics and History. The program also hosts faculty visitors for one-year appointments. These visiting scholars present innovative new interdisciplinary work to the Yale community, collaborate on research with Yale faculty and students, and offer related courses for Yale students. The program also hosts a handful of research lunches each term, where political economy graduate students present their work in progress. Finally, the Leitner Program sponsors graduate and undergraduate student research fellowships and provides undergraduate senior essay assistance.

Program on Peace and Development

The Program on Peace and Development aims to join academics and practitioners to address issues related to ongoing conflicts or post-conflict politics. Its mission is to function as a platform for discourse, stressing the involvement of a wide range of actors and thinkers. The program gathers participants—from community leaders and activists to major political leaders to academics—in the same arena to ask crucial questions to help foster more open communication.

Program on Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Humanitarian Responses

The Program on Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Humanitarian Responses is an intellectual hub for research, teaching, and policy recommendations that takes a people-centered approach to the refugee experience—from internal displacement, to the transit experience inside and outside the camp, to challenges of resettlement and integration. Acting as a catalyst for innovation, it is open to new and unconventional ideas of research or public outreach. Rigorous, interdisciplinary, evidence-based research is being conducted and linked to policy and practice.

The program is a campus-wide initiative, drawing on the intellectual resources of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Yale’s twelve professional schools, including more than fifty Yale faculty and scholars in Anthropology, Economics, History, Sociology, Political Science, Global Affairs, Management, Medicine, Nursing, Psychology, Public Health, Law, Divinity, Religious Studies, and the Environment. It also engages undergraduate and graduate students who have been taking the lead in many initiatives on refugee and displacement issues on campus.

More broadly, the program puts the resources of academic institutions and the field experience of humanitarian workers and policy makers under one virtual roof, encompassing a wide range of issues that cover the entire refugee experience, to foster quality academic research and sound policy advice that have a meaningful impact on the lives of people affected by forced displacement.

Project on Religious Freedom and Society in Africa

The goal of the Project on Religious Freedom and Society in Africa is critical inquiry into the connection between freedom of religion and societal well-being, and how the flourishing of persons and societies can be promoted on that basis. The project hosts several lectures; organizes interdisciplinary workshops, seminars, and conferences on religious freedom and society; offers small grants to support related initiatives and activities that are focused on particular areas of inquiry or particular regions of interest; and produces a series of working papers on selected themes of the project.

Center for the Study of Representative Institutions

The Yale Center for the Study of Representative Institutions (YCRI) is an interdisciplinary pilot program established for the purpose of developing the study of the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American tradition. YCRI is supported by the Thomas W. Smith Fund and the Jack Miller Center’s Commercial Republic Initiative, which is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

The Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES)

The Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES) was established in June 2018. REEES gathers and institutionalizes Yale’s long-standing and emerging strengths in research, teaching, and public outreach about this part of the world, including those housed in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (Slavic Languages and Literatures, History, Film and Media Studies, Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, and others), and in the professional schools, including the Yale Schools of Art, Drama, Management, Music, and Public Health, as well as the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

REEES activities span every career stage, from supporting undergraduate and graduate students interested in preparing for careers in Russian, East European, and Eurasian affairs to hosting distinguished visiting scholars from around the world. With support from the MacMillan Center and its European Studies Council, the Carnegie Corporation, and others, REEES organizes high-impact international conferences, supports a speaker and film series, brings specialists to Yale to teach timely courses, and fosters improved connections among Yale’s programs and schools.

Translation Initiative

As human migration and cultural globalization alter the manner and speed of language change, languages and the art, culture, and information they convey are moving across borders in a way they never did before. At the same time, access to new media has expanded the percentage of the world’s population with portals to exploding media production, both digital and print, across economic and class lines. The Translation Initiative is an interdisciplinary program that promotes the study of translation’s impact in various literary, social, political, business, legal, technological, and medical practices throughout the world. Working with linguists, librarians, computer scientists, business executives, and health care professionals, the Translation Initiative conducts research, presents educational programs, and encourages education in translation at Yale and beyond.