The initiative supports projects across a number of intellectual themes that have been selected based on three criteria. First, the themes represent an area in which CEU already has, or aspires to develop, academic strengths. Second, the themes reach across various units of the University ensuring an interdisciplinary approach. Third, they have both broad academic appeal and societal relevance. Based on these criteria, four cross-cutting intellectual themes have been proposed for a period of up to four years. They are the following:

A fifth topic, networks, is recommended as an intellectual tool applicable to each of the four themes. Network science brings together many departments at CEU and has the potential to be applied in new areas. CEU is at the forefront of developing network science as a cross-disciplinary basis for cutting-edge social, political and economic analysis. It has the capacity to stimulate interdisciplinary study and research, including original research that is expected to produce new knowledge, and could potentially bring together many groups of academic units within the University.