ISI is an international research institute, based in Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania), devoted to the study and dissemination of semiotics, in its most interdisciplinary sense. Activities include research, publications, academic events, teaching, consultations, training and supervision, but also extra-academic projects focused on social progress and sustainability.

ISI was born in 1988 in Imatra, Finland, on initiative of the Toronto Semiotic Circle. The institute was created in order to promote international teaching of semiotics and to facilitate the mobility of students in the field. The project soon turned into an active center for research and events. Since the beginning of its activities and until 2014, Prof. Eero Tarasti has been the director and leading figure of the Institute.

ISI served as the meeting place for nearly one hundred events, ranging from seminars to the famous summer congresses, plus periodical or occasional meetings of organizations like the Finnish Society of Semiotics, the Musical Signification Project, the International Association for Semiotic Studies and other Nordic and Finno-Ugrian associations.

In 1992, Acta Semiotica Fennica, the first ISI book series, started its regular publication of international monographs and anthologies.

In 2014, an important transition, initiated in late 2012, is brought to completion: ISI moves from Imatra to Kaunas, Lithuania, under the direction of Prof. Dario Martinelli. A former pupil of Tarasti, and a regular participant of the Imatra events since 1999, Martinelli and his team have ensured the continuity past-present-future, by inaugurating new activities and preserving old ones.

The flagship event of the institute is the International Congress of Numanities, organized every year in late May, which works as a interdisciplinary semiotic-based platform for scholars from all over the world. Numanities is the main research concept and umbrella for the institute’s activities.

Additional events organized by ISI include “VeGandhi”, a yearly one-day symposium on vegan studies, and “HowTo-Things”, a workshop on transdisciplinary practices that revolves around the activities of the HowTo project, a cooperation between ISI and the Vilnius Academy of Arts.

ISI has been the local organizer of the IASS-AIS World Congress of Semiotics in two occasions: 2007, in Helsinki-Imatra, when the institute’s headquarters were in Finland, and in 2017, in Kaunas.

While keeping Finland and then Lithuania as its main headquarters, during its history the ISI has maintained close ties with institutions from all over the world.

Currently, ISI has its main premises in Kaunas and a branch office in Helsinki.

"As I see it, the advances in scientific thought come from a combination of loose and strict thinking, and this combination is the most precious tool of science."

− Gregory Bateson

"Here am I who have written on all sorts of subjects calculated to excite hostility, moral, political, and religious, and yet I have no enemies — except, indeed, all the Whigs, all the Tories, and all the Christians."

− David Hume

"Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used 'to tell' at all."

− Umberto Eco