About the Institute

The mission of the Institute is to study life in extreme conditions, from physical to psychosocial environments, from the bottom of the oceans to the outer space.

The Institute is composed of several research centers, distributed as network in the academic environment of the Babeș-Bolyai University.


Emil G. Racoviță (1868-1947) was a famous Romanian scientist (naturalist) and an Antarctic explorer. He is worldwide recognized as the founder of biospeleology. Emil G. Racoviță was Professor and Rector (i.e., President) of the King Ferdinand I University of Cluj (University of Cluj), whose academic and legal successor is today Babeș-Bolyai University. A former Professor of Sorbonne University (France), Emil G. Racoviță came to the University of Cluj in 1920, where he founded the world’s first Institute of Speleology, which was renamed in 1948 as Emil Racoviță Institute of Speleology. 


During the communist reorganization of the university, from 1956 the Institute ceased to exist within the university, being restructured in various forms, at national level, as part of the Ministry of Education (1956-1960; 1972-1990) and of the Romanian Academy (1960-1972; 1990-today). Its re-opening within the university in the fall of 2020 is considered a continuation/re-foundation of the previous Institute of the University of Cluj, independent of the existing institutions derived after the 1956 reorganization. This is not only an historical restitution and continuation, at the celebration of 100 years since its original creation, but a platform to value the scientific contributions of Emil G. Racoviță in a new modern and larger academic context. The Institute is dedicated to the study of life not only in caves, but in relationship with various extreme conditions/environments. The 2020 Emil G Racoviță Institute has its headquarters in the same university building, where the former 1920 Institute was founded and existed. 


Babeș-Bolyai University (UBB) is the largest academic community in Romania (of about 55000 people) and has the longest academic tradition, starting in 1581. Indeed, UBB has its academic origins in 1581 as Academia/Universitas Claudiopolitana (1581-1786, with teaching in Latin and German), followed by Cluj Hungarian University in the XIX century and then by Cluj Romanian University (University of Cluj) at the beginning of the XX century. In 1959, combining the existing Romanian and Hungarian universities in Cluj-Napoca, it emerged as Babeș-Bolyai University, named after the Romanian biologist Victor Babeș and the Hungarian mathematician János Bolyai. In order to reflect its history, UBB assumed a multicultural profile, having three official languages of study (Romanian, Hungarian, and German), along with many programs in English, French, Italian, etc. Since 2016, Babeș-Bolyai University occupied the first position in our National Metaranking – initiated by the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research and continued by Ad-Astra Association of Romanian researchers -, which combines the major international ranking of universities (e.g., ARWU/QS/THE, etc.). 


Foundational Charter of the Institute in 1920

Foundational Charter of the Institute in 2020

© 2020 UBB, Institutul Racoviță