Article by Jonathan Z. Friedman and Cynthia Miller-Idriss.
Existing studies of the internationalization of higher education have detailed the broad contours of change in the new “global” era, but they have told us much less about the individuals and processes underpinning these transformations. Moreover, they tend to treat internationalization as a recent or new phenomenon. There have been prior waves of internationalization in the American academy, however, and their institutional structures continue to endure. Area studies centers—institutionalized on U.S. campuses during the Cold War to train international experts and promote world knowledge—offer one such example, as their practices continue alongside those associated with the current wave of internationalization. Drawing on a long-term study of area studies centers housed at the U.S. Social Science Research Council (SSRC), we suggest that the international infrastructure that supports their operation, and the experiences of faculty and administrators associated with them, are instructive for those engaged in other university internationalization efforts today.