Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages
In 2001 the University of Iceland announced plans for a new institute of foreign languages and received Vigdís’s consent to use her name in its title. The aim of the Institute is to promote research and teaching in foreign languages and to highlight the importance of language learning and cultural literacy in all areas of life. By the choice of name the university wished to honour Vigdís’s contribution to the fields of language and culture in Iceland and commemorate her pioneering work on behalf of languages in the international arena as the world’s first UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages.
Through the dedicated efforts of the Institute and Vigdís’s own inestimable contribution this area of research has gone from strength to strength at the University of Iceland. The Institute and its future plans have been widely publicised both within Iceland and abroad, often with Vigdís’s active participation. Collaborative projects have been set up with institutes of learning outside Iceland and support has been canvassed for research and development projects from foreign cultural and research funds.
The VFI has seen a lively and vigorous expansion of its activities. In addition to research and the publication of academic literature the Institute has hosted a large number of international conferences, seminars and lecture series. For further information on the Institute’s directors, staff and activities, see here.
Vigdís and the directors of the Institute have worked ceaselessly on setting up an international language centre in Iceland as a part of the Institute. The function of the centre will be to build up a flourishing research community in the area of languages and culture and direct a spotlight on the importance of languages for successful international communication and an appreciation of the world’s cultures. The centre will have the further aim of allowing guests and members of the public to learn about languages and culture in a living and creative environment with the aid of computer technology. In spring 2013 an agreement was signed between the Icelandic government and UNESCO for the international language centre to operate under the banner of UNESCO. The centre will be known as the Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding (Vigdísarstofnun – miðstöð tungumála og menningar).
Shortly after the establishment of the VFI a campaign was launched to raise funds for a new building to house its future operations. Much progress has been made and a large number of companies, both domestic and foreign, organisations and funds have given generous support, along with contributions from the Icelandic state and the City of Reykjavík. The largest single contribution to the project is a grant of ISK 210 million from the Danish charitable fund the A. P. Møller Foundation (A. P. Møller og Hustru Chastine McKinney Møllers Fond Til Almene Formaal).
Work on the new building got under way in autumn 2014 and is scheduled from completion late in 2016.
A VFI support fund (Styrktarsjóður Stofnunar Vigdísar Finnbogadóttur) was set up in 2003 with the aim of putting the work of the VFI on a sound financial footing and furthering its growth and development.