The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute was established in 1957 by the Van Leer family as part of their charitable commitments in Europe and Israel. Built in the center of Jerusalem on land granted by a special act of Knesset (parliament), the Institute was designed to serve as a center of intellectual excellence and advanced learning - serving science, ethics and society.
Since its official opening in the late 1960's, the Institute has functioned as an autonomous and highly prestigious center of advanced learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Institute's Fellows and associates are involved in a wide variety of research projects ranging from the philosophy of science to education. The Institute supports more than 20 such projects annually and publishes two of Israel's leading academic journals.
Alongside its commitment to academic excellence, the Institute and its resident community of scholars seek to play an active role in civic life in Israeli democracy and its immediate hinterland. To that end the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute has set up Centers for the promotion and innovation in the field of Tolerance Education, the Center for the Study of Arab Society and the Mediterranean Forum. The Institute's projects and personnel are placed in nearly 200 secondary schools throughout Israel, where they implement innovative educational projects.
Because of its intellectual prominence and political independence, the Institute functions as a sort of "national town-hall" where Israel's ethical and political agendas are often shaped. The main auditorium which, with Polly Van Leer's insight, was built for this purpose, draws Israel's intellectual and cultural elites for public deliberation and political discourse.
The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute works in close cooperation with leading European research and cultural institutions and is engaged in collaborative projects with visiting scholars from throughout the world. It also houses an impressive library, specializing in the history and philosophy of science, and publishes books, monographs and periodicals based on in-house research carried out in seminars, conferences and individual work.
The Institute is located in the heart of Jerusalem's historic Rehavia district adjacent to the President's residence. Its campus houses Israel's National Academy of Science (built by the Van Leer family) and the National Council of Higher Education.
For more information, see the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Website.