Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities Sibiu

Institute history


The current Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities Sibiu (ISSH Sibiu) was established in 1956 as the Social Sciences Section of the Cluj Branch of the Romanian Academy. The foundation followed a 1955 memorandum signed by 25 Romanian and German intellectuals, including Nicolae Lupu (1921-2001), Cornel Irimie (1919-1983) and Carl Göllner (1911-1995).

In parallel with the initial project of publishing the Dictionary of Transylvanian Saxon Dialects, the scientific staff of the new institution determined the main research directions: History, Archeology, Ethnography and the History of literature. Since 1959, the research results were published in the pages of the scientific journal Forschungen zur Volks- und Landeskunde, edited by Carl Göllner. In the early years, the institution functioned in the Brukenthal Museum, and Nicolae Lupu, the museum director, became the "section head". The scientific scope of the Section was broadened after the subsequent generational changes and a new direction of study was added by the newly hired researchers: Romanian language and literature.

In 1970, the Section was transferred to the recently established Academy of Social and Political Sciences of the Socialist Republic of Romania and received a new name: the Sibiu Center for Social Sciences. Nicolae Lupu became the dean of the Sibiu Institute of Higher Education and Cornel Irimie was appointed director of the Brukenthal Museum. As a result, the Center was led by Carl Göllner until 1974. During the 1970s and 1980s, additional researchers were hired for all existing sectors and for the Sociology sector. In the 1980s, the Center of Social Sciences was attached to the Sibiu Institute of Higher Education and the management was taken over by cadres of the Romanian Communist Party or by the deans of the Institute of Higher Education.

The political transformations in 1989/1990 fully contributed to the re-establishment of the Sibiu research disciplines on a solid scientific basis. The Center became the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities Sibiu, subordinated to the Romanian Academy. The name resembled much more closely the actual research profile of the institution. ISSH Sibiu also moved to a new location, which was more adequate for the needs of the reasearch staff. Some of the researchers were integrated in the higher education process after the establishment of the "Lucian Blaga" University of Sibiu.

After 1989, ISSH Sibiu was led by Thomas Nägler (1990–1994), Paul Niedermaier (1994–2018) and Rudolf Gräf (since 2018). The 1990s were decisive for the current scientific profile of the Institute. In 1990, the Ethnology sector took over the periodical Studies and communications of ethnology, formerly published by the Sibiu County Association of Folklorists and Ethnographers. Since 1992, the journal was published on a yearly basis under the auspices of the Romanian Academy. After 1994, the research results regarding the history and culture of the Transylvanian Romanians and Germans were also published in the pages of the scientific journal The Yearbook of the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities Sibiu. In 1992, at the initiative of Paul Niedermaier, the Commission for the History of Romanian Towns, subordinated to the Romanian Academy, was established at ISSH Sibiu. The Commission brings together historians, archaeologists, urban planners and museographers. Their scientific results are published in the journal Historia Urbana (founded in 1993). Likewise, important works such as the Historical Atlas of Romanian Towns and the Historical Bibliography of Romanian Towns are elaborated within the Commission.

The successive retirement of specialists in Sociology, Romanian language and literature, History of literature and Art history naturally led to a scientific shift of the main research directions. The change was reflected in the Institute journals, which offered increasingly more publishing space for topics such as History, Archeology, Urban history, Cartography and Ethnology. Of course, the backbone project of the Institute remained the Dictionary of Transylvanian Saxon Dialects

The scientific profile of ISSH Sibiu permitted the formation of dedicated associations and encouraged the forging of partnerships with other associations and institutions, for example the Arbeitskreis für Sibenbürgische Landeskunde (Association for Transylvanian Studies) in Gundelsheim, the International Commission for the History of Towns or the Institut für donauschwäbische Geschichte und Landeskunde (Institute for the History and Geography of the Danube Swabians) in Tübingen.

Since its establishment, the fundamental objectives of ISSH Sibiu were the deepening of the knowledge about the history and culture of the Romanians and Germans from Transylvania, the study of the history and specifics of the Romanian cities in the European context, integrating the Transylvanian characteristics in the history and culture of the European and Romanian space and studying the national and regional particularities of our present-day society, as well as the continuation and completion of the research projects initiated more than a century ago, some of which were abandoned due to political reasons or a lack of specialists.

As strategies adopted by our Institute, we mention the fact that research is supported by budgetary and extra-budgetary funds. The aim is to streamline the results by collaborating with other institutions and, in particular, with the "Lucian Blaga" University of Sibiu; by engaging students in the investigation process; by collaborating with the associations hosted by ISSH Sibiu, each of them addressing a distinct public - thus expanding the Institute sphere of influence; the valorification of the research results is realized, traditionally, through publications - volumes and journals (published in Romania and abroad); In addition, we acknowledge the increased importance of modern media and the Internet.

Similarly, the tactics employed for obtaining optimal results consist of: appealing to highly experienced researchers for a better visibility at a national, European and global level; engaging young researchers in the various projects they carry out; ensuring the best possible research base, which will make the activity efficient, both for the employees and the students and external collaborators; planning and implementing a balanced distribution of tasks.

In 2003, ISSH Sibiu moved to its current location, on Bulevardul Victoriei, No. 40, in a building owned by the Consistory of the Evangelical Church in Romania. The edifice provides a generous space, with individual offices accommodating the technical equipment required to perform the research activity in optimal conditions. The Institute also has a conference room, which houses most of the library collections, offering both the employees of ISSH Sibiu and the readers a pleasant study environment and access to the more recent national and foreign publications.