From The Daily Beast:
One of the most impressive and eclectic intellectual groups in America gathers in a sprawling former mansion nestled in the foothills above Santa Fe. Once the private residence of a former U.S. Secretary of War, the space now houses the Santa Fe Institute. Lunchtime conversations range from game theory to historical linguistics to Sophocles. Pulitzer Prize–winning authors, Nobel Laureates and MacArthur geniuses wander the halls, scrawling equations on the window panes with erasable markers. The novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein calls it “everything I hoped academia would be as a graduate student.” She adds, “It was pure bliss.”
The Santa Fe Institute was founded in 1984 by a group of scientists frustrated with the narrow disciplinary confines of academia. They wanted to tackle big questions that spanned different fields, and they felt the only way these questions could be posed and solved was through the intermingling of scientists of all kinds: physicists, biologists, economists, anthropologists, and many others. Almost three decades after its founding, the institute now has 12 resident faculty members whose interests range from the archaeology of the American Southwest to the physics of cities. Various educational programs and conferences supply fresh infusions of graduate students, post-docs, and professors from around the country. Over the last few years SFI has even extended the logic of collaboration further by establishing a regular fellowship to bring a novelist, playwright, philosopher, or other humanist to the institute. Though he’s technically a member of the board of trustees, Cormac McCarthy has also become a vital part of the intellectual atmosphere.