”The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levantine Culture and Civilization” was founded by the Romanian Parliament through Bill no. 117 / 26 May 2017, published in the Official Gazette no. 404 / 30 May 2017.
In 2011, professor Emil Constantinescu, elected President of the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, initiated and organized the first ever higher education programme in the field of cultural diplomacy in the world (at BA, MA and PhD. levels), in collaboration with the University of Bucharest, the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, the University of Siena, Italy (est. 1640), and the Furtwagen University, Germany.
At the International Conference on The Levant, cradle of cultural diplomacy; Rediscovering the Mediterranean, held in Bucharest in May 2013, president Emil Constantinescu presented the Levant Initiative for World Peace. This was supported by a document signed by the heads of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies in the Romanian Parliament.
The Interparliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics (IPCGE), well known for its initiatives in promoting the culture of peace over the last 10 years, invited President Constantinescu to present his Initiative at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in June 2013, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and Geneva, before the Unites States’ Congress, the Israeli Knesset and before the parliaments of other countries. The Initiative was later adopted by 35 delegates in the European Parliament.
In September 2013, prof. Emil Constantinescu, member of the Board of Trustees of the World Academy of Art and Science – an important international academic forum, founded over 70 years ago by Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, John Fleming, John Bernal, Henry Moore, Yehudi Menuhin and other Nobel Prize laureates – presented his initiative of setting up a Center of Excellence of the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS) in Bucharest.
At the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the WAAS in Ottawa, 16 September 2013, the Board approved the founding of a WAAS Center for Excellence in Bucharest, Romania, acknowledging the prestige and the great scientific capability of the academic research of Romanian higher education in general. Moreover, the Board sanctioned the constitution of a doctoral programme in cultural diplomacy, organised by a network of European universities under the patronage of the WAAS. In October 2013, in a letter of WAAS President, Ivo Slaus, addressed to the Romanian Minister for Education, the participants at the World University Consortium (WUC) expressed their support for this decision, emphasizing that this Center for Excellence could substantially contribute both to promoting a new paradigm for the globalized society of the 21st century and to the project of a(n) World/International University, initiated by the founders of the WAAS over 60 years ago.
Initially, the Ministry of Education and Research approved of the founding of this Center for Excellenceunder the auspices of the University of Bucharest and MESR, but later accepted President Constantinescu’s proposal that this center should work directly under the Senate of Romania, becoming a public institution of national interest with distinct legal identitythat could lead to the enhancing of the Senate’s prestige in international and Romanian academiaas well as in the sphere of interparliamentary relations.
The geographical, historical and cultural space of the Levant – the area situated on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Seas, in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans – is unparalleled in either the modern or ancient histories of Eurasia, being the place of origin of many cultural innovations, eversince the so-called ”Neolithic Revolution”. It is the birthplace of the great Abrahamic religions, but also of arts and sciences; it is the historical space where politics and their corollary – democracy – were invented, and the place where the great Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Byzantine, Greek and Ottoman civilizations had flourished. The historical interest inherent in studying this unique area is enhanced by its geopolitical interest for the present and the near future, as on this region largely rest the current grounds for the maintenance of world peace, as well as the global perspectives of a peaceful and creative future.Romania has an intrinsic vocation for this initiative, as a civilization situated at the crossroads between the Levant and Europe, having traditionally negotiated the points of contact between the two major cultural areas, yet without having a history of conflict or oppression that might burden its mission.
”The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levantine Culture and Civilization” in Bucharest, modelled after the finest examples of famous research centres aims at becoming one of the leading world fora that would try to promote the scientific directions and priorities in certain fields and establish a network of contacts and collaborations between Romanian scientistsand those from other Centers for Advanced Studies in the world, thus enhancing the international visibility of Romanian scientific research. The activity of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, seen as a multifaceteddialogue between historical research and presentand as a form of multicultural diplomacy, can be developed in collaboration with leading academic fora such as the World Academy of Art and Science, the Romanian Academy and its affiliated institutes, the great universities from across the Levantine region. It can work with designated feedback centers, specialized think-tanks, with the diplomats and decision makers of the various countries in the Levant, with UNESCO and the World Monument Fund, thereby promoting international, intercultural and interreligiousdialogue; it could organize symposia on topics of regional interest, as well as common measures for the protection of the natural and cultural heritage of a space as rich as the Levant. Its scientific research activity will be conducted in accordance with its three main departments,i.e. the history of the cultures and civilizations of the Levant, the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the Levant, and studies in cultural diplomacy applicable to the Levantine region.