Tasks for the future

In his Inaugural Address as President of the IASS-AIS (delivered in Berkeley on June 16, 1994) Roland Posner outlined the following objectives for the current policy of the IASS-AIS (cf. Posner 1995):

1. New programs for the teaching of semiotics at schools, colleges, universities and in continuing education need to be developed and implemented globally under the auspices of the IASS-AIS.

2. International cooperation in semiotic research must be intensified on a regional basis by setting up local networks of multiply overlapping semiotic research groups (e.g. in Scandinavia, Central Europe, Latin America, and in the European, Asian and African countries bordering the Mediterranean, as well as in the American and Asian countries bordering the Pacific). The IASS-AIS will stimulate this world-wide communication with the help of its Executive Committee: in addition to having an assembly of the complete Executive Committee once every five years, there will be frequent Regional Meetings between its members, thereby constituting, e.g., a Scandinavian, Central European, Latin American, Mediterranean, North Pacific section of the IASS-AIS.

3. New semiotic insights often originate by comparing the problems and methods of distinct sign-oriented disciplines. The IASS-AIS will therefore encourage encounters between the specialists of different disciplines within the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences, and, especially, across the boundaries of these groups of disciplines. The IASS-AIS will mirror these efforts in its organizational structure by establishing a system of Special Interest Groups and project-oriented joint ventures, each involving several disciplines.

4. To create synergies between semiotics and related interdisciplinary approaches (e.g. Cognitive Science, Communications Research, Ethology, Ecology, Pragmatics, Hermeneutics, Aesthetics), the IASS-AIS will set up long-term organizational relations with the international associations that are in charge of these approaches. Joint projects will be initiated and joint congresses organized.

5. Innovative ideas must receive the attention of as many semioticians as quickly as possible. To guarantee this, the IASS-AIS is introducing the most advanced communications technology available. In addition to the printed publications (the Bulletin-Annual appearing once a year, and the Bulletin-Newsletter published twice a year) an IASS-AIS E-mail Circular has been created, which distributes news as soon as they reach the Secretary General. Furthermore, it is planned to make central components of the content of the Bulletin available on Internet, so that the IASS-AIS Bureau acts as a global clearing house for all semiotically relevant information.

After the splendid opening of the series of IASS-AIS Congresses by Umberto Eco in Milano in 1974, there has been a steady increase in semiotic activities, which reached international attention every five years in the Congresses of Vienna (1979), Palermo (1984), Barcelona–Perpignan (1989) and Berkeley (1994). It is obvious that there was a parallel growth in semiotic publications both in quantity and quality. More and more of the academic fields which used to be uninformed or skeptical of semiotics have since been convinced of its necessity. More and more scientific and educational institutions are approaching the IASS-AIS for cooperation. Although semiotics itself is still rarely institutionalized as a university subject in its own right, the acceptance of semiotics as an interdisciplinary field with a strong complementary form of organization has risen remarkably. This is true to such a degree that the IASS-AIS success story has been taken by many an interdisciplinary field as a model for the way it should proceed.

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