What it is.

The Interdisciplinary College (IK) is an annual, intense one-week spring school which offers a dense state-of-the-art course program in neurobiology, neural computation, cognitive science/psychology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and philosophy. It is aimed at students, postgraduates and researchers from academia and industry. By combining humanities, science and technology, the IK endeavours to intensify dialogue between the various disciplines. Participants come mainly - but not exclusively - from European countries, lecturers from all over the world. Courses include up-to-date introductions to the main fields of the IK, as well as an in-depth treatment of the focus topic, which is changing from year to year. The IK is also a unique social event. In the long evenings, participants enjoy a very special atmosphere: minds meet, music is played, and friends are made in the welcoming conference site at Lake Möhne.


How it became what it is.

The IK evolved from the former 'Artificial Intelligence Spring School' (KIFS), which took place almost annually from 1982 to 1996, and contributed significantly to the development of AI in Germany. Since the beginning of the 1990s, AI had been well established in German universities and the mission of the KIFS had been fulfilled. It was time for a comprehensive departure into interdisciplinarity. This venue was paved out by several events, especially by two workshops "Wege ins Gehirn" (Paths into the brain) and "Autonomie und Adaptivitaet" (Autonomy and Adaptivity). These non-public workshops were organized by the Federal Ministery of Education and Research and brought together leading scientists in these fields. The final decision to turn the KIFS into the Interdisciplinary College was taken at the first of these workshops in 1996. The IK "movement" has since then been carried on by a body of leading researchers from the concerned disciplines. The IK inherited the charming scenery (Heinrich-Luebke-Haus in Guenne/Moehnesee) and the intensity of the KIFS. Since 2003 the IK is held in English. The IK has now been run annually since 1997, each time with overwhelmingly positive feedback from its participants.


What it means to participate.

This fully depends on what you make of it of course, but by experience and from hundreds of anecdotes we gather that: You will attend a lot of very interesting courses and lectures, some relating to your usual topics and so some that are completely exotic to you. You will learn a host of new things and remember some almost forgotten bits, while you will grow curious at quite a few new topics. The house will be brimming with discussions and interdisciplinary exchange that leaves most participants thinking differently, or from new angles, about their usual topics. IK will also leave you quite sleep deprived following a week of up to 10 hours of lectures and up to 10 hours of other fun activities ("waterball", hikes to the lake, excursions on bike, gatherings in the basement bar, music by the fireplace, dancing, games, table tennis, etc.) a day. There will be free and open discussion and interaction between students, lecturers and all other participants, drawing a benefit from the fact that everyone is comparatively unexperienced in at least some topics while bringing along expertise in others. Many participants decide to make visible active contributions by either presenting a poster, a rainbow lecture, by volunteering as a "sunshine" to support one of the lecturers, or even by making an artistic or comedic contribution (which often happens in spontaneously formed teams) to the dinner gala night on Tuesday. Participants have often described the IK as a celebration of curiosity where you can connect with brilliant people from a broad range of disciplines that are somehow involved with -or affected by- cognition.

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