In 1984 the Rockefeller Foundation invited the Editorial Board of the History of European Ideas (founded in 1979) to hold its first conference in Bellagio, Italy on the theme 'Europe in a Changing World'. There, the editors of the journal decided to create the International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI).
The Society and its journal seek to promote the study of Europe's cultural past and present. Special stress will be laid on the inventive and creative aspects of the European mind in science, religion, philosophy, art, literature, sociology, politics, history, economics and psychology. European ideas will be shown to be the outcome of over four centuries of a continual cultural exchange between European nations.