The Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES), the oldest of the five researches institutes within the Addis Ababa University system. The Institute was established to develop and operate the library and the museum, to publish the Journal of Ethiopian Studies and other publications, as well as to co-ordinate, and encourage research and serve as the center of Ethiopian studies at the national and international levels.

Specifically the institute had the following Seven-fold objectives in the early phase of its history.
To publish an inter-disciplinary periodical, the Journal of Ethiopian Studies, as well as other publications related to Ethiopia, including biographies, catalogues and other works of documentation.
To maintain the University's specialist library on Ethiopia.
To operate an Ethnological Museum, and related collections, and to assist and promote the organization of Ethiopian exhibitions both at home and abroad.
To constitute a Research Unit, mainly in the field of history and related disciplines.
To hold conferences, meetings and seminars.
To handle questions connected with visiting scholars from abroad.
To encourage interest and research on Ethiopian history and culture, and to correspond with relevant individuals and institutions

The Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES) had come a long way in carrying out its mission since its founding in 1963. In view of its developments and the changing circumstances, the Institute required more fitting organizational set up, administrative autonomy, and a more streamlined set of objectives, focused on the humanities and cultural studies. Thus, the Senate of the University issued a statute defining the administrative autonomy of the Institute in 1995.

Based on the "Statute of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, 1995" which was issued by the AAU Senate on the 16th of August 1995, the Institute has the following two broad objectives:
1. To conduct, promote and coordinate research and publication on Ethiopian Studies with special emphasis on the humanities and cultural studies; and
2. To aid in the conservation of the Ethiopian cultural heritage by collecting, classifying, cataloguing, preserving and displaying in a museum objects reflecting the material and spiritual culture of the diverse nationalities of Ethiopia.

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