The Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute was established on the initiative of Dr. Leonard Polonsky and with his funding. Upon the academy’s opening in the beginning of 2014, fourteen Polonsky Fellows began to use it. When it reaches full capacity it will host thirty outstanding postdoctoral fellows from Israel and abroad. The academy provides the fellows with stipends and a welcoming physical environment that includes state-of-the-art services for their research, such as individual offices, a library, advanced IT, lecture halls, and meeting spaces. The Polonsky Academy is their intellectual home for the duration of their fellowship. The donor earmarked $50 million for building the academy and establishing a fellowship fund. The cornerstone-laying took place on May 30, 2010, and the inauguration ceremony – on July 17, 2013.
Even before construction began, Dr. Polonsky started distributing annual awards to outstanding scholars. Each award of $40,000 per year can be renewed for up to five years, enabling scholars to develop their individual research and to advance their academic status under incubator conditions. Since 2008, the institute has published, in Israel and abroad, an annual call for research proposals, to be submitted electronically. A committee made up of the donor, the director of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and the president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities considers the proposals and chooses the most outstanding applicants.
The Polonsky Academy for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences is a key element in the Van Leer’s continuing effort to nurture top-level scholars who will be leaders in the creation of knowledge and the development of a better society.