The School of International Affairs (SIA) has become, in the space of a. few years, one of Columbia's largest, and most important divisions. When founded in 1946, the School operated on a total budget of $60,000; by 1964 the School's annual budget was well over a million dollars, and the Regional Institutes each accounted for hundreds of thousands of dollars more. In 1967, the School listed a Faculty and staff of over 150 members, which included sane of the most prestigious -- and powerful -- figures in the Columbia community. President Grayson Kirk and Vice-President Truman both hold academic positions on the SIA's Faculty.

Originally composed of the School itself and the Russian Institute, the SIA's empire now encompasses eight Regional Institutes (each representing a major segment of the world), and several dozen research projects and institutes. In 1964, the School launched a $32 million fund-raising campaign to expand its activities further, and to finance a new building for the School. The building, named the Edward John Noble Building after the School's heaviest contributor, is now under construction at 118th Street and Amsterdam Ave., on a site once occupied by apartments.

The purpose of the SIA has never been in doubt: to train experts in international affairs and foreign areas for administrative positions in America's expanding overseas empire. This function is set forth clearly in a description of the School which appears in the Columbia University Bulletin: "The School of International Affairs is a professional school which was established in 1946 with the purpose of training, in conjunction with the regional institutes, a select group of students for staff and administrative programs in international fields." That this task is being realized can be shown by statistics on the activities of SIA alumni: in 1967, Dean Andrew Cordier estimated that 40 percent of the School's graduates worked in the international agencies of the U.S. Government, while another large segment worked for corporations, foundations or law firms engaged in international activities.


Long before the School of International Affairs was founded, the University had offered courses in diplomatic history, international law, and supranational organizations. Students, preparing for a career in diplomacy or foreign trade could arrange a "concentration" in these courses, many of which were given by the Department of Public Law and Government. This department later provided the impetus for the establishment of the SIA, and constituted, the nucleus of its staff.

Columbia's interest in international affairs is often attributed to Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University from 1902 to 1945. Butler's description of the White Man's Burden is quoted in the preface to a publication on The International Activities of Columbia University, 1960- 1961: Butler defined "The International Mind" as that habit of thinking and dealing with "the several nations of the civilized world as friendly and cooperating equals in aiding the progress of civilization, in developing commerce and industry, and in spreading enlightenment and culture throughout the world." Butler's statement was made in 1912, two years before the competing imperial ambitions of the "civilized nations" led to the catastrophe of World War I.

The study of international relations did not, however, attain an independent status in the University until World War II. Like many other components of the University-Military complex, the SIA was first set up as a temporary institution during the War, and then converted into a permanent installation during the Cold War.

In its embryonic stage, the SIA was known as the Naval School Of Military Government and Administration, a wartime expedient created to train officers for the administration of occupied territories in the Pacific area, and in Southeast Asia. The Naval School commenced operation on August 17, 1942, with the arrival of the first contingent of officers from the U.S. Naval Reserve. According to L. Gray Cowan's History of the SIA, "the express purpose of this program was the instruction of naval personnel in the discharge of duties of an administrative nature in such territories as the Navy might occupy. Altogether, Columbia trained some 280 officers and 30 civilians during the 42 months the Naval School was in existence, from 1942 to 1945. Professor Schuyler C. Wallace of Columbia served as Director of the School.

The curriculum, of the Naval School comprised courses in native languages, the study of native customs, the history of governmental institutions in the Southwest Pacific and Southeast Asia, and training in the technical and legal aspects of military government. Since the program was intended to train administrative officials in the shortest time possible, the staff of the Naval School was under considerable pressure to abandon traditional academic procedures in the interests of expediency. The techniques developed in this period for the training of experts in international administration and in foreign area studies subsequently provided the basis for instruction in the School of International Affairs.

Columbia learned a valuable lesson from its wartime experience: the traditional organization of the University into various academic departments was inadequate for the rapid training of specialists in foreign affairs. Consequently, professors from many departments would be assembled in an independent, Faculty of International Affairs for the specific purpose of training such experts. Reminiscing on this period, Vice President Lawrence Chamberlain wrote in 1965 that "About the same time that university science departments were co-opted for purposes of war, the knowledge and skills of the social sciences and to a lesser extent the humanities departments were also conscripted for military service. The need for applying a blend of disciplines and skills to the problems of little-known areas -- for purposes of warfare, governmental administration and diplomacy -- precipitated the establishment of new research and instructional patterns because the conventional departmental structures were simply not adequate to meet the demands of the job." (Columbia Envoy, Fall 1965) Thus the academic community was to be modified and perverted for the interests of the State.

At the end of the Second World War, it was sufficiently clear to all concerned that the United States would continue to exert its hegemony over the large portions of the world that it had occupied or entered during the war. The U.S. power elite recognized, moreover, that there would be a continuing need for trained experts to administer the overseas operations of their now expanded empire. Consequently, considerable resources were made available (usually through major foundations) for the establishment of professional schools in international administration. Columbia was one of the first institutions to embark upon such a program.

In its report on the proposed School of International Affairs, the select Faculty Committee set up to consider such a program explained that "The increased efficiency and rapidity of transportation and communication have ended for this country the possibility of isolation, either as a physical factor or as a national policy. As a result, those responsible for the management of the interests of the United States, whether in governmental or nongovernmental capacity, will of necessity be increasingly concerned with the institutions, mores, and policies of other nations and peoples. There must therefore be developed within the United States a body of men and women with a broad understanding of international affairs, who have, in addition, training as functional or regional specialists. Only a body of men and women so trained will provide a reservoir from which experts capable of handling the increasingly complex and intricate problems of international modus affairs can be drawn." This statement, established both the raison d'etre of the SIA, and its modus operandi: Columbia would offer a two-year professional program leading to a Master of International Affairs degree (MIA), to satisfy the power elite's need for trained experts in this field. The MIA program would include a year of area specialization (courses in history, economy, government and culture of a given area, and intensive training in foreign languages), followed by a year of functional specialization (courses in international trade and finance, international law, governmental administration, or `supranational organizations). On this basis, the School of International Affairs was created by the Trustees, of Columbia University on April 2, 1945, as an autonomous professional school with' its own Faculty and administrative apparatus.

The School's official historian, L. Gray Cowan, asserts that Columbia was "among the first of the American universities to work out this combination of intensive training for professional work in the field combined with an area of specialization ... Programs similar in structure although differing in details have been worked out by Cornell, Harvard, Michigan, and other universities ... However, Columbia is the only institution to have worked out on such a broad scale the combination of professional work and area study." Cowan applauds the fact that the School "represents a significant instance of the fashion in which the modern American university has sought to adapt its skills and resources to the pressing needs of the times." Cowan goes so far to suggest that "the future of the United States as a world power may well in part depend upon the soundness of judgment and adequacy of background given to the future policy makers in such institutions as Columbia's School of International Affairs." (Emphasis added.)

In the 22 years of the School's existence, it has evolved a variety of programs for enhancing its ability to train experts in international affairs. The School has consistently modified its programs to accord with the changing needs of the American Empire. The development of the Regional Institutes, for example, is a perfect mirror of changing U.S. interests abroad. In the immediate postwar era, when U.S. interests were concentrated in Europe and the Soviet Union was regarded as our preeminent challenger, Columbia created the Russian Institute (later subdivided to create the European Institute and the Institute on East Central Europe). In 1949, when the American involvement in mainland Chinese affairs reached its peak, the SIA created the East Asian Institute. In the 1950's, when the crises, precipitated by nationalism and anti-colonialism in North Africa and the Middle East received worldwide attention, the SIA responded by creating the Middle East Institute. In the 1960's, while the U.S. power elite had been preoccupied with the problem of protecting its hegemony in the underdeveloped areas, the SIA created the Institutes of Latin America Studies and African studies. Not surprisingly, the latest addition to this same complex is the South Asia Institute, formed in 1967 to coordinate programs on South and Southeast Asian affairs.

In addition to training experts in international administration, the SIA provides specialized services to the U.S. power elite in the form of research Programs on vanguard problems of international relations and in the formulation of ideological justifications for U.S. foreign policy. The Russian Institute -- oldest of the SIA's Regional Institutes -- is a case in point. The Russian Institute (RI) is a demonstration, par excellence, of the way in which university intellectuals contributed to the legitimization of Cold War ideology.

An independent Russian Institute was first proposed in 1944 by Professor Geroid T. Robinson (then on leave to the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA), who suggested that "There is every reason to believe that Russia will hold a very powerful place in the world after the war, and that as a direct result American academic activity in the field of Russian studies will show a considerable expansion." When founded a year later, the Institute was given the joint task of advancing research on Russian (and East European) affairs, and of training new specialists in the Russian field. In 1964, the Institute's Director, Alexander Dallin, could boast that the 500 Russian Institute alumni constitute a majority of all American experts on Soviet Affairs.

Although many Russian Institute graduates went into teaching or enrolled in the diplomatic service, many others became part of the surrealistic world of émigrés, ex-Nazis, CIA agents and professional anti-Communists which constituted the Cold War Establishment. Early issues of the Institute Alumni Newsletter indicate that RI graduates were working for organizations like Radio Free Europe (and its parent organization, the Free Europe Committee), the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism the U.S. Psychological Warfare Center, Army intelligence, and especially, the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Russian Institute itself was inextricably bound up in the affairs of these agencies. The Institute profited from a $55,000 grant to the SIA from the Free Europe Committee for "teaching and research an Eastern Europe." In the early 1950's, the Institute was very closely associated with an organization known as the East European Fund, Inc. (also known as the Free Russia Fund). Philip Mosely, Director of the Russian Institute, was also President of the Board of Directors of the East European Fund. Other officials of the Institute, including Alexander Dallin, were also associated with this organization, which collected information on the Soviet Union from Russian émigrés.

The Russian Institute's studies on national income and-product in the USSR and the communist nations of Eastern Europe, which became the Research Project on National Income in East Central Europe, was secretly financed by the CIA.

The Institute's faculty and staff contributed significantly to the literature of anti-Communism. Early editions of the report on Publications and Research of the Russian Institute list many contributions to Encounter and other publications of the CIA-financed Congress for Cultural Freedom, for the Army Psychological Warfare Journal, for the Government's Problems of Communism journal and its foreign editions, and for publications of émigré organizations.