Traditional dwellings and settlements accommodate most of the world’s population. In recent years, interest in such environments has become widespread among scholars working within the disciplines of architecture, anthropology, art history, geography, history, planning, folklore, and many others. The International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE) was established at the First International Symposium on Traditional Dwellings and Settlements held at Berkeley in April 1988 to act as an interdisciplinary forum where scholars from various disciplines and countries can exchange ideas, discuss methods and approaches, and share findings. In contrast to disciplinary societies concerned with the advancement of particular disciplines, IASTE is more interested in the comparative, cross-cultural, and inter-disciplinary understanding of traditional dwellings and settlements as an expression of cultural conventions.
IASTE views tradition not as the static legacy of the past, but rather as a dynamic project for the reinterpretation of the past in light of the present. IASTE’s purpose is to serve as an umbrella association for all scholars studying vernacular, indigenous, popular, informal, and traditional built environments.
In this capacity, IASTE has three main venues to fulfill its mission. First, it publishes a semi-annual, refereed journal, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review. It collaborates with a local university in diverse locations around the world to host a biennial international cross-disciplinary conference on selected themes. Third, IASTE hosts a visiting scholar program that attracts academics from around the world working on themes of tradition and the built environment.