NYU Law's two newest centers introduce themselves via the Web

Although the two newest centers at the NYU School of Law, the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice and the Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization, will not open officially until September 2009, they are already reaching out to the NYU community and beyond with the launch of their new Web sites, which introduce the centers’ fellows and staff and describe their ambitious academic and intellectual aims. Both the Straus Institute and the Tikvah Center are based in the same newly renovated 1830s townhouse at 22 Washington Square North. The Straus Institute is directed by University Professor Joseph Weiler, who is also Joseph Straus Professor of Law and European Union Jean Monnet Chaired Professor. The Tikvah Center is directed by Moshe Halbertal, Gruss Professor of Law at NYU School of Law and a professor of Jewish thought and philosophy at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Weiler.

The Straus Institute, funded by Daniel E. Straus ’81, a member of the Law School’s Board of Trustees, and his wife, Joyce G. Straus, will offer generous fellowships to top scholars from diverse fields, with the intent of creating an intellectual haven for free interaction between multidisciplinary thinkers while retaining a broad focus on issues of law and justice. It is an academic format embodied by a group of institutes of advanced study, the most famous of which are located in Berlin, at Stanford University, and near Princeton University (the latter famously served as Albert Einstein’s academic home where he pursued a unified field theory in physics during the last two decades of his life). The Straus Institute will support high-level research and scholarship without requiring teaching commitments of its fellows. Two-thirds of each year’s fellows will pursue scholarship related to an annual theme; in 2009-10, the topic will be the emerging legal field of international governance. The Web site includes a detailed explanation of the theme’s several facets, as well as a preview of the theme for 2010-11. The Straus Institute will also house NYU Law's new David Friedman Fellowship, awarded to one of the institute's senior scholars.  “In a way, it’s the ultimate ivory tower,” Weiler said. “You’re telling people, ‘Come. Spend a year here. Think.’ It’s not an immediate action or reaction kind of thing. But it’s fundamental deep thinking about serious social issues.” Throughout the year, forums, colloquia, and seminars will allow Straus Fellows to engage with the Law School community.

Like the Straus Institute, the Tikvah Center will host eminent scholars. The foundational premise of the center is that the study of Jewish law can profit immensely from insights gained from general jurisprudence, and that Jewish law and Jewish civilization can provide illuminating perspectives on law and legal issues of true academic and social significance. The Tikvah Center will showcase fellows’ scholarship through forums and an annual conference. Beginning in the 2010-11 academic year, the center will facilitate a Master of Studies in Law program at NYU Law focused on law and Jewish civilization, with some courses taught by fellows; students will not need a prior law degree. An undergraduate outreach program will feature courses taught in NYU’s College of Arts and Science by instructors affiliated with the center. The Tikvah Center will also house two preexisting programs: NYU Law’s Berkowitz Fellowship, awarded to a senior scholar at the center pursuing research from the vantage point of Jewish learning and civilization; and the Gruss Program, which established a visiting professorship, a scholar in residence, a law library, and an annual lecture, all related to Talmudic law. The center is made possible by the Tikvah Fund, a private foundation that supports Jewish intellectual life.

Posted on June 19, 2009