About ISSA

The name ISSA is short for Initiative for a Synthesis in Studies of Awareness, and is also a form of homage to Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), a leading Japanese haiku poet, whose empathy for creatures large and
small continues to inspire us.


We advocate an integrative approach to the study of awareness. We are using the notion of awareness as an umbrella term for intelligence, cognition, consciousness, agency, as well as self-awareness. In short, any form of responsiveness of autonomous agents in complex systems to each other and to their environment. We thus include neuroscience, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, artificial life and robotics, logic and philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and other fields. In particular, we aim at creating networks and venues where an atmosphere of mutual curiosity and respect between disciplines facilitates dialogues and collaborations.


Starting with a summer school in 2015, which encouraged collaborations across widely and wildly different fields, we are looking for ways to enable continued interactions, beyond those provided by occasional workshops or conferences. Specifically, we are exploring the creation of local centers, as well as cyber-based ongoing activities.  Our next summer school will be held in Osaka, in May 2017.

First ISSA Summer School, 3-22 August 2015 (Photo Credit: Nerissa Escanlar)


Summer School

Our main activity is the ISSA Summer School. The next edition will be from May 22 to June 2, 2017 at CiNet, in Osaka.



Since July 2016, we have been helping a new initiative with the same vision in New York City, called YHouse. YHouse Inc. is a non-profit institute that will soon settle in the middle of Manhattan, devoted to innovative and transdisciplinary research, intellectual partnership, and public discourse tackling humanity’s greatest questions on awareness, consciousness, and the future of intelligence.

YHouse’s activities have already started in New York City, from Fall of 2016, with a series of events “Chasing Consciousness: from cells to societies, neuroscience to machine awareness”. The events take place on Fridays between 5:00 – 6:00pm in the Art Lounge of the Rubin Museum of Art.