The Institute of Cultural Studies (ICS), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife was established in 1983, as successor of the defunct Institute of African Studies which was one of the earliest  units that started with the University in 1962. The Institute has as its mandate, the preservation of African cultural heritage and the study of problems of adaptation and integration of African cultural values into the experience and daily life of the African in the contemporary world. ICS is, therefore, committed to inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary studies of cultures.

The first Director of the former Institute of African Studies, which metamorphosed into the current ICS in 1983, was Michael Crowder. He started the annual Ife Festival of the Arts. He left in 1971. Ulli Beier, the famous Austrian researcher of Yoruba culture, was appointed by Prof. Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Ife, as the Director of the Institute in September 1971. One of the achievements of Beier was the transformation of the Ife Festival of the Arts into an annual event.

The Director at the inception of ICS in 1983 was Professor Olabiyi Babalola Yai. He was succeeded by Professor Bade Ajuwon who served as the Director from 1986 to 1992. Other Directors/Acting Directors include: Professor ‘Biodun Adediran (1992 to 1996), Professor Oyin Ogunba (1996 to 1999), Dr. Gabriel Olu Akomolafe, (1999 – 2000), Professor Isola Olomola, (2000 – 2004), Dr. Wale Adeniran (2004 – 2008), Prof. Akin Alao (2008 – 2011), Prof. Gbemisola Remi Adeoti (2011 – 2015) and Dr. Jare Oladosu (2015 – 2017). The current Director of the Institute is Dr. Félix Ayoh’OMIDIRE.

Today, the Institute embarks on activities that promote lively exchange of ideas through seminars and conferences and also through its official Journal – IFE: Journal of the Institute of Cultural Studies. This annual publication is noted for its high academic standard.
Part of the Institute’s uniqueness derives from the University’s motto – “For Learning and Culture” as it is the intellectual unit devoted to the pursuit of the cultural mission of the University. The architecture of the Institute of African Studies building and that of the Institute of Cultural Studies beside it, depict indigenous African styles with motifs aimed at evoking the Yoruba traditional social setting.

The Institute’s new building houses the Secretariat, a Seminar Room, an Art Gallery, a Library, a small computer room and a number of staff offices.The Institute is close to the University’s ultra-modern Oduduwa Hall, the University Library, the Sports Complex and the new Mega-Lecture Theatres.