Mission and vision

The Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) is an institute of advanced studies in the humanities and social sciences. Founded as a place of encounter in 1982 by a young Polish philosopher and two German colleagues in neutral Austria its initial mission was to create a meeting place for dissenting thinkers of Eastern Europe and prominent scholars from the West.

Since then it has promoted intellectual exchange across disciplines, between academia and society, and among regions that now embrace the global south and north. The IWM is an independent and non-partisan institution, and proudly so. All of our fellows, visiting and permanent, pursue their own research in an environment designed to enrich their work and to render it more accessible within and beyond academia.

Our work sustains three guiding themes: Encounter and Solidarity, Encounters in Democracy and Encounters with Europe. Within them, our permanent fellows create research projects and run programs which permit us to invite around a hundred distinguished guests – as well as senior and junior visiting fellows – to Vienna each year.

An encounter of people around ideas aims to change both. Our staff and permanent fellows strive to create the physical and intellectual environment which enables this. We also bring the spirit of encounter outward. Essential to our mission is outreach to a variety of interested publics including those who influence opinion and craft policy. We organize public lectures, debates, and conferences; and publish books, articles, and digital exchanges.

Encounters among our fellows aim to reframe larger questions of academic debate and of public interest that address today's complex challenges. We believe that sustained intellectual work and its broad dissemination is essential to a humane future of open, just, and sustainable societies.