On June 21, 1977, representatives from ten institutions concerned with the study of federalism and drawn from eight countries convened at the Wenkenhof in Basel (Switzerland), and established an association to further the study and understanding of federal principles and patterns.
Daniel J. ELAZAR was the founding President and provided leadership to the Association in that capacity from 1977 to 1991.
The original membership of IACFS at the time of its founding in 1977 comprised the following Centers:
- Centre for Research on Federal Financial Relations, Canberra, ACT., Australia
- Center for the Study of Federalism, Temple University, Philadelphia, U.S.A.;
- Forschungsinstitut für Föderalismus und Regionalstrukturen, Riehen, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland (now the Institut du Fédéralisme at the University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland);
- Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Nice, France (amalgamated with Collège Universitaire d’Études Fédéralistes at Aosta, Italy, to form the Centre International de Formation Européenne [CIFE]);
- Institut Universitaire d’Études européennes Geneva, Switzerland;
- Collège Universitaire d’Études fédéralistes, Aosta, Italy
- Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada;
- Jerusalem Institute for Federal Studies, Jerusalem, Israel (currently the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs);
- Workshop in Political Theory and Political Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.;
- Institut für Föderalismusstudien, Innsbruck, Austria (attended founding meeting but did not formally join IACFS at that time).
Of these ten, a nucleus of seven member Centers (Canberra, Bloomington, Philadelphia, Basel, Nice, Kingston, and Jerusalem) provided IACFS in its early years with the continuity it needed until they were joined by new members.
- Nico Steytler (2010-2016)
- Cheryl Saunders (2004-2009)
- John Kincaid (1998-2003)
- Ronald L. Watts (1992-1997)
- Daniel J. Elazar (1977-1991)