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"The Fellows House is Marvelous"

“The Fellows House is marvelous to live in. I want to pass on one reason that might otherwise be unintuitive.

As academics we have ideas every day. Most of these ideas, we do not take seriously. Part of that is for good reason – we can’t afford to follow every whim. But part of it is the insecurity and self-doubt that are implicit in a discipline in which we are regularly criticized and shot down.  As you know, being an academic is an exercise in humility and we learn quickly to not take ourselves too seriously.

NIAS and the KNAW have created a house – both the living room and the apartments, which imbue us with an uncharacteristically high level of personal dignity – for a brief period we are encouraged to think twice before easily dismissing the multitude of ideas that occur to us at midnight sitting around the living room table with a glass of wine, thick curtains, overlooking a canal. Because if we are sitting there, in that setting, someone must be taking us seriously – perhaps we should too.

The resulting dialogues regularly have a gravitas that we might not otherwise indulge. It is through having an environment in which I am encouraged to take my midnight speculations seriously that I now have collaborations that will likely result in submissions or exhibits with a physicist, artist, and possibly, a lawyer. As a cognitive neuroscientist this is unusual for me.”

Greg Siegle is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He was a Fellow in 2017, working on technologies that augment recovery from mood and anxiety disorders.