The Morgan Advanced Studies Institute (MASI) launched on 26 February 2021 as Wales’ first Advanced Studies Institute focussed on transformative interdisciplinary research. Here Professor Matt Jones, Founding Director of Morgan Advanced Studies Institute, talks about what MASI is and what it means for Swansea, the wider region, Wales and the world.
I wonder what image the words, “Advanced Studies Institute”, conjures up in your mind? Perhaps, one of an ivy-clad neo-classical building; an ivory tower; a club-like environment where very serious folk earnestly interact? The first Institute, founded in Princeton in the 1930s, certainly wouldn’t disappoint you if these are your expectations, it being housed in a beautiful extensive building with an alumni that includes Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and Hetty Goldman.
In February 2021, the First Minister of Wales formally launched Swansea’s Morgan Advanced Studies Institute (MASI); the first in Wales. While MASI (pronounced MA-SI) will do the adventurous, ambitious, transformative research and innovation that all such institutes aspire to, the image I’d like you to picture to capture MASI’s spirit and drive is rather different. Think, then, of a sky filled with a murmuration of starlings; thousands of birds swirling, swooping, choreographing themselves in a startling, joyful, inspiring display of togetherness and purpose.
MASI is a community of focussed, urgent purpose working together to tackle the most pressing problems and opportunities of our time, bringing together people from every discipline and perspective to collaborate in transdisciplinary ways. And, what a time to start our mission: as we – hopefully and cautiously – emerge from the darkness, despair and loss of the pandemic, MASI will be a bright beacon of hope and direction. We have launched with the theme of the ‘Preciousness of Life’ and will seek to foster and enable work that seeks to build a post-pandemic world that is more healthy, resilient, safe and joyful; and, one where these “goods” are available and shared by all. We will do this by supporting a wide range of activities – from idea-creating sandpits to programmes of research experimentation and scholarship; from welcoming MASI International Fellows to bring us new perspective to early career coaching and development.
The “Morgan” in MASI is Rhodri Morgan – First Minister of Wales and Former Chancellor of Swansea University. We are honoured to be associated with Rhodri – his vision for Wales and its place in the world will inspire and direct us in our work. He had a deep commitment to the ancient culture, language and landscape of Wales and a desire to engage constructively with sub-Saharan Africa. MASI will thrive by deep understandings of those profound, old, deep values to help shape and create a future Wales that is a nation of discovery and innovation. To succeed we will need to connect with globally diverse communities and MASI will reach out across Africa and the global south, in particular.
Our work has just began: the website has more information on how to get involved (and we seek to be inclusive of those currently at Swansea but also anyone from across Wales, the UK and indeed the world). Join us!
To find out more about MASI and how you can get involved visit swansea.ac.uk/masi