Awards and Honors, Faculty News, CAPA

David Bond Invited to the Institute for Advanced Study

Associate Director of Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) and Environment faculty member David Bond has been invited to become a Member of the School of Social Science at the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) for the upcoming academic year.


Founded in 1930 in Princeton, IAS is one of the world’s leading centers of intellectual engagement. Each year, IAS welcomes a handful of scientists and scholars whose research promises to transform existing fields of inquiry. For the 2018/19 academic year, Bond will join a select cohort of social scientists from around the world working on the theme of “Crisis and Critique.”

“I’m honored and humbled by the invitation to join IAS next year,” Bond said. “It will be delightful to be in conversation with such distinguished scholars in a place where the big questions of social research are still being asked and answered in novel ways.”

Bond will be the first faculty member from Bennington College to become a Member of IAS.

During his year at IAS, Bond will finish a book manuscript on the concept of the environment. The book, entitled Environment: A Disastrous History of the Hydrocarbon Present, reflects on how the environment gained potent empirical and ethical definition in relation to the problems of fossil fuels.

“Whether by urban smog, acid rain, petrochemical runoff, or even oil spills, as fossil fuels have unraveled the conditions of life, they have also instigated new authorities to monitor and police those conditions,” Bond said.

However, the resulting definition of a “defendable environment” is often effective only to the extent that it focuses on mitigating damage, thereby sidestepping the underlying petro-causes. This positioning, Bond argues, has serious consequence, for not only does the “defendable environment divorce measures of harm from measures of gain, but the category itself comes to moralize and manage an ahistorical, moderately contaminated, and exceedingly technical understanding of legitimate life.”

The Institute of Advanced Study has an astonishing record of accomplishment in the physical and social sciences. The institute boasts a total of 33 Nobel Laureates, including founding Faculty member Albert Einstein. IAS has also been home to such intellectual luminaries as Clifford Geertz, Albert Hirschman, Kurt Godel, John von Neumann.