The common thread of concern within the Institute is the problem of the “good” or of “human flourishing.” Why? Implicit assumptions of “the good” define the terms of meaning and moral order; tacit conceptions of “human flourishing” form the deep structures of culture. Given this, our core concern is to provide better accounts of human flourishing under the conditions of late Western modernity: how it has been and is being undermined, on the one hand, and how it has been and is being sustained and enhanced, on the other.
Inquiry into the deep structures of contemporary culture requires an approach that transcends conventional disciplinary theories, methods, and practices, and an open space where such inquiry can go forward. Therefore, our intellectual labor is divided not along disciplinary lines or according to institutional spheres but around three areas in which questions of the good are most critical: the person, the community, and the constitutive elements of meaning itself. Within these broad conceptual categories, the Institute’s research agenda takes shape through five research programs. The agenda is further specified through interdisciplinary projects.