The Italian Academy was created in 1991 on the basis of a charter signed by the President of the Republic of Italy and the President of Columbia University. It was conceived as a center for advanced research in areas relating to Italian culture, science and society. It was also intended to provide a locus for collaborative projects between senior Italian and American scholars, particularly those open to interdisciplinary research. Given its international scope and its long-standing commitment to all aspects of Italian culture and society, Columbia was seen as an especially appropriate context for such a venture.
At the heart of the work of the Academy lies its interdisciplinary Fellowship Program. Fellowships are open to senior scholars at the post-doctoral level and above who wish to devote a semester or a full academic year to genuinely innovative work. The most advanced part of the Fellowship Program is the Academy’s ongoing Project in Humanities and Neuroscience, in which scholars in both the humanities and the sciences work together in assessing the significance of the latest developments in genetics and the neurosciences for the humanities, and vice-versa. The Academy also serves as the chief reference point in the United States (as well as a frequent meeting place) for all links between the worlds of higher education in Italy and the US. Furthermore, its theater, library, and other public spaces offer important locations for a variety of performances, concerts and exhibitions designed to enhance cultural relations between the Republic of Italy and the artistic, political, and academic communities of New York and the United States.