IU Scholars' Commons


Wednesday Noon Digital Scholarship Series


The Cosmopolitans: The Institute of International Education from Liberal Internationalism to Neoliberal Globalization (1919–2003)


April 26, 2023 | 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

via Zoom


Elizabeth Spaeth, Doctoral Candidate,

History, Indiana University Bloomington


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The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers the most prestigious awards for international education such as the Fulbright. As an intermediary between states, private philanthropies, corporations, and universities, the IIE has smoothed global crises and facilitated U.S. diplomatic policies related to international education for the past century. In my dissertation, “The Cosmopolitans: The Institute of International Education from Liberal Internationalism to Neoliberal Globalization (1919–2003),” I ask how parastatal organizations like the IIE became central to twentieth century liberalism. I argue that Americans came to rely on international students as proxies to end global conflicts, fortify the United States’ geopolitical standing, advance capitalist economic development in the Global South, and keep U.S. colleges financially afloat.The Institute of International Education has dominated the fields of international education and person-to-person diplomacy from 1919 to the present as an intermediary between states and private organizations. It has bolstered international student programs with private grants and administered flagship federal programs such as the Fulbright. This combination of private administration and capital with federal legislation and the brand of the U.S. government has characterized the shift from massive public spending and liberal internationalism in the postwar era to the neoliberalism of the late-twentieth century.


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