Institute of International Affairs, Centre for Small State Studies, University of Iceland

The Institute of International Affairs (IIA) at the University of Iceland provides education, promotes research, and carries out service projects in the field of international relations. It aspires to serve both academic and professional needs and stimulate a general discussion on subjects relating to international affairs. To this end, the Institute plans and carries out research on various subjects and hosts conferences, seminars, and lectures concerning international affairs. It publishes books and papers on international relations and Icelandic foreign affairs. International cooperation and interdisciplinary discussions are important factors in the work of the IIA.

The IIA is part of the University of Iceland and subject to rules and standards set by the University. The University of Iceland is a progressive educational and scientific institution, renowned in the global scientific community for its research. It is a state university, situated in the heart of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. A modern, diversified and rapidly developing institution, the University of Iceland offers opportunities for study and research in over 400 programmes spanning most fields of science and  scholarship: Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Humanities, Education, Natural Sciences and Engineering. The University of Iceland has set itself the long-term goal of being ranked among the 100 best universities in the world and to that end it has implemented  internationally recognized quality standards in all appraisement of its work. Over one hundred scholars with various types of expertise participate in the work of the IIA, and its centres, the Centre for Small State Studies (CSSS), the Centre for Arctic Studies (CAS) and Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre, and the institutes have ties to a number of foreign research bodies.

The Centre for Small State Studies has a substantive experience running intensive study programmes for the last 16 years, it has published a well-known small states publication series since 2001 and hosts numerous open events such as lectures, seminars, and international conferences. In 2013, the CSSS was awarded a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence grant, raising the visibility of the work of the Centre on a national and international level. The Centre for Arctic Studies (CAS) organizes conferences, seminars and lectures on Arctic issues as well supporting teaching and offering publication in the field. A recently signed joint agreement between the Centre and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs involves the organisation of a joint seminar series and an annual international conference on Arctic issues, in conjunction with the current Icelandic chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

In 2016 the institute launched Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre, a collaborative effort of the City of Reykjavik and the University of Iceland. The centre is a forum for international multidisciplinary cooperation with an emphasis on the role of small states, cities and citizens in promoting peace. It promotes non-violent communications, the eradication of interpersonal violence and peaceful relations between states and organizations. Additionally, it promotes peace through research and education, including the development of a graduate programme in peace and conflict studies at the University of Iceland.

The creation of Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre provides the Institute of International Affairs with the opportunity of expanding its research areas, which has lead to a greater emphasis on the challenges now facing modern societies, such as climate change, immigration and refugee issues, increased diversity, as well as rising nationalism and populism in the mainstream discourse. Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre organizes open seminars at the University of Iceland, focused on the role of cities and citizens in promoting peace. To promote the different research fields within the Institute, Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre organizes an international conference on 10/10 each year under the theme The Imagine Forum, bringing together different actors in a dialogue on pressing issues related to peace and security. The centre has been running youth programmes in peace education for children of diverse origins since 2017, it launched the first accelerator for social innovation in Iceland in 2018 and has established a partnership with Harvard University in running intensive programmes in negotiations. Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre is leading two Nordic projects, ‘The Power of Narratives: Democracy and Media in Political Turmoil’ funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS) and a Norplus Horizontal project an e-course in cultural competency training, specifically aimed at educating personnel of universities and municipalities.

In addition to the numerous affiliated researchers the IIA´s permanent staff are: Pia Hansson, Director, Auður Birna Stefánsdóttir, Project Manager of the IIA, Auður Örlygsdóttir, Project Manager of Höfði Reykjavik Peace Centre, Margrét Cela, Project Managar of the Centre for Arctic Studies and Tómas Joensen, Project Manager of the Centre for Small State Studies. Baldur Þórhallsson serves as the Research Director of the Centre for Small State Studies. The current board of the IIA consists of Guðmundur Hálfdánarson,  Dean of the School of Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Iceland who is the Chair, Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir, Deputy Chair of the Board and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Iceland, Hólmfríður Garðarsdóttir, Professor of Spanish, Max Conrad, Head of the Faculty of Political Science and Professor of European Studies, Guðbjörg Linda Rafnsdóttir, Vice Dean of the University of Iceland, Stefán Eiríksson, Chief Executive Officer, City of Reykjavik and María Mjöll Jónsdóttir, Director of Communication and Public Diplomacy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Institute of International Affairs
Centre for Small State Studies
Centre for Arctic Studies
Höfði Reykjavik Peace Centre
University of Iceland
Aragata 9, 101 Reykjavik,
tel. +354-525-5262


Pia Hansson