The Norwegian Summer Institute on Language and Mind

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A summer course in linguistics and philosophy in Norway

Tuesday 31st July (9 am) – Friday 10th August (1 pm), 2018
University of Oslo, Blindern campus; Seminar room 1 (‘Undervisningsrom 1’), Sophus Bugges building


David Adger (Queen Mary)
Nicholas Allott (University of Oslo)
Rosa Cao (Stanford University)
Ingrid Lossius Falkum (University of Oslo)
Randy Gallistel (Rutgers University)
Carsten Hansen (University of Oslo)
Terje Lohndal (NTNU, Trondheim, & UiT The Arctic University of Norway)
Ira Noveck (CNRS/Institut des sciences cognitives - Marc Jeannerod)
Liina Pylkkanen (New York University)
Georges Rey (University of Maryland at College Park)
Deirdre Wilson (UCL)

What is the summer institute and who is it for?

The institute brings graduate students (MA-level and doctoral researchers) up to date with developments in work on language and mind by presenting classes with leading researchers in the relevant fields. These include linguists, psychologist and other cognitive scientists open to philosophical issues, and philosophers focused on linguistics and the cognitive sciences.

Theme for the institute in 2018: Cognition, representation and the mind/brain

Work in cognitive science and linguistics relies on the idea that the mind/brain performs computations over representations. This year we focus specifically on the relation of proposed computations regarding syntax and the pragmatics of utterance intepretation to experimental and neurological research, addressing especially issues of memory and economy. This will raise more general issues of what constraints computational and neurological theories place on each other, as well as whether there a single notion of representation employed in such computational accounts of, e.g. navigation and vision, where there’s often an independent external reality, and grammar and language, where there may not be one. The lectures are correspondingly divided into three different strands: syntax and the brain, theoretical and experimental pragmatics, and foundational questions about computational/representation theories of cognition.

What do students say about the institute?

“An incredible opportunity to learn about a great variety of topics, and hear from a fantastic array of speakers – thank you so much! I have learned a huge amount from the discussions and readings.”

“Great topics, lectures and students!! Fantastic organization – everything worked really smoothly.”

Students like the way that:

“Lectures are intertwined, yet distinct, so that not only a good overview is provided but also the different standpoints of the theories are clearly conveyed.”

“Overall, it was a great opportunity to think outside of one’s narrow field and consider the ‘big questions’ of cognition. At the same time, I feel like I also learned a lot in my narrow field of study, so it was a good combination of ‘big picture’ issues and more specialized questions.”

Students particularly praise the friendly, open atmosphere and the interactions between lecturers and students, and among students, both in and out of class:

“The institute is one of the most engaging and stimulating learning/academic environments I’ve ever attended. Students’ questions are taken very seriously and are the basis for discussion, which is more lively than average, by far. The lecturers are all extremely open to debates and discussions, also outside the framework of their lectures.”

“Very friendly atmosphere that stimulated discussions.”

"this Institute has the most engagement with the topics outside of the lectures of any institute I’ve been to.”

“the school is/was an excellent experience for me. […] I had such an outstanding time here, and really felt an improvement in my understanding. Also, it is wonderful to have the lecturers so readily accessible and open to questions posed at any level of expertise.”

The teaching

Classes are from Tuesday – Saturday and then Monday – Friday.

The first day will have introductory lectures to get everyone up to speed with the relevant parts of linguistics, philosophy and psychology.

For the rest of the course, days will include 90 minute classes on each of the three "strands" (see below). Teaching will be discursive, with plenty of time for questions and answers in each class.

There will also be two round-table discussion sessions, where we will discuss issues across the strands, guided by student questions.


Syntax and the brain

Invited Lecturers: David Adger (Queen Mary) and Liina Pylkkanen (New York University)

Lecturer/convenor: Terje Lohndal

Topics to include: syntactic representations and neuroscience, brain areas involved in representing syntactic structure, computational vs. algorithmic vs. implementational approaches to syntax, the role of memory and economy considerations in syntactic theory

Pragmatics: Theory and experiment

Invited Lecturers: Ira Noveck (CNRS) and Deirdre Wilson (UCL), plus Ingrid Lossius Falkum (University of Oslo)

Lecturer/convenor: Nicholas Allott

Topic: the current state-of-the-art in theoretical and experimental pragmatics, including: how hearers bridge the gap between linguistic meaning and utterance content; the kinds of neurological measures used in recent experimental pragmatics; the role of effort factors in utterance interpretation; and lexical pragmatics and figurative speech.

Foundational questions about computational/representation theories of cognition

Invited Lecturers: Rosa Cao (Stanford) and Randy Gallistel (Rutgers)

Lecturer/convenors: Carsten Hansen and Georges Rey

Topics to include: What constraints does computational cognitive science place on neuroscience and what constraints does neuroscience place on computational models? What sort of general architecture is plausible for the brain: classical, connectionist, map-like, analog? In what sense do the computational states employ representations? Is there a single notion of representation that covers e.g. navigation, vision, where there’s often an independent external reality, and grammar and language (where there seems not to be one)?


The classes at the summer institute are free for all registered participants.

All summer institute participants who are current PhD students at institutions affiliated with the Norwegian Graduate Researcher School in Linguistics and Philology will be able to receive bursaries.

We have some very limited funding to partially support a few other students. These bursaries will be assigned competitively.

How to apply

There are limited places on the summer institute. Please fill in this form, and follow the instructions there to apply.
(You have to enter a few details about yourself, paste a short covering letter into the form, then email us a CV/resumé.)

The deadline is 2nd April 2018.

How do we choose?

We evaluate all the applications together after the closing date.

We’re looking for students who we think will benefit from the summer institute and who have the most to offer to the institute.

We’re aiming to make our decisions by 2nd May 2018.
(Please don't email us before then to ask for our decision. We'll let everyone know as soon as we are able.)


Senior lecturer Nicholas Allott, University of Oslo
Professor Carsten Hansen, University of Oslo
Professor Terje Lohndal, NTNU & UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Professor Georges Rey, University of Maryland at College Park

Supporting institutions

CSMN, University of Oslo; Norwegian Graduate Researcher School in Linguistics and Philology; IFIKK, University of Oslo; University of Maryland at College Park