Knowledge has become a vital source of welfare growth at a global level, and is the fundamental element for empowering competitivity. The broadening of globalization has underlined the growing importance of international collaboration and knowledge exchange, and has created strong international scientific communities.
Increasing globalization has enhanced the importance of international cooperation and knowledge exchange, and created strong international scientific communities, without minimizing the importance of the local factors in adapting and capitalizing on knowledge.
In the strive for excellence universities play a great role. They are challenged to transform themselves into major players on the knowledge market, attracting and training skilled human resources and hosting leading research facilities. Their research and ever closer ties with the economic environment have not only translated into sources of additional income, but represented key elements in their educating and training process.
The Romanian National Education Law requires from the higher education institutions that have assumed the research as their main mission, to create administrative structure in order to facilitate research management and the development of projects carried out by staff of the institution.
Also, the Charter of the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration and other internal documents, assumed by the university management, support and encourage research, considered to be the foundation of the entire academic process.
It is in this context that the concept of the Institute of Latin American Studies (ISLA in Romanian) emerged as a distinct component within the Department of International Relations and European Integration – National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, established by the decision of the Senate National University on October 1st, 2012.
ISLA is an unique initiative in the Romanian academic community, as it is among the first attempts to coherently bridge the economic, political, cultural and scientific relations with Latin America. In the European Union, Latin American studies have became more important, not only in the traditional areas of Spain and Portugal, but also in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, as well as in the most recent states that joined the Union such as Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, and in Serbia and the former Soviet Union area.
Recently, however, the interest in Latin America began to increase in Romania as well, especially in the academia. Currently, there are a number of research centers on general issues of Latin America (Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University of Bucharest, and similar centers at the Universities of Iasi and Craiova) or specialized centers, such as the Brazilian Studies Center of the Romanian-American University. However, none of these centers support an integrated approach on the relations between the Central and Estern Europe and Latin America.