Courses on International Affairs in American Colleges, 1930-1931


It is not too much to say that this book bears witness to one of the most significant changes in national interest and outlook to be found, not only in the history of the United States, but in that of any nation at any time. Seldom have the massed figures of a statistical survey produced results more surprising to those familiar with the field covered than has this analysis of the instruction given in the undergraduate colleges of the country on international and world affairs. Today, judging from the data assembled and carefully edited and scrutinized, there are over thirty-seven hundred semester courses in undergraduate instruction dealing with international affairs in some of their multiform aspects. Over thirteen thousand semester hours of weekly instruction for half a year of undergraduate classroom work, or their equivalent, are devoted to this new orientation of American economic, cultural and political life. Calculating fifteen weeks to a semester, this amounts to a total of almost two hundred thousand classroom hours during the academic year. There are practically no colleges of undergraduate instruction in the entire country among those here listed which do nor give some course or courses on international affairs. The major exceptions are seven technical schools and four theological colleges.

Before we draw any conclusions from this impressive return, we hasten to add that it by no means furnishes a full or even an adequate picture of the work being done in these subjects in the educational institutions of the country. For it deals only with undergraduate instruction, and furnishes no glimpse of the extensive offering in courses in this field by the postgraduate faculties, which in these last few years has grown so enormously, not only in the highly endowed private universities but in state universities as well. The omission of these courses of higher instruction from the present survey, while justified by the plan of the Editor to present data that would be as homogeneous as possible and capable of comparative study, has, nevertheless, resulted in some statements of offerings which at first glance seem almost grotesque, as for instance, the assignment of only three courses in international affairs to Johns Hopkins University, and the absence from the lists of most of the work offered by the Faculty of Political Science of Columbia University. It is to be hoped that subsequent surveys will be made to include these graduate courses, along with the present undergraduate offering; for it will probably be found that graduate instruction has been proportionately more shifted from its ancient mooring by the new emphasis on international problems than is the case in the undergraduate curriculum.

Keeping in mind both elements of the problem, the undergraduate courses of the present survey and the graduate courses still to be counted in, one becomes aware of a situation here, the full significance of which becomes apparent only when one recalls that a generation ago courses dealing with international affairs hardly figured at all in undergraduate instruction in American colleges, and that in the graduate faculties they could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand. Naturally, there were courses in the history of foreign countries, but even their content has been largely changed, as the textbooks bear witness, shifting the emphasis to correspond to a new, live interest in present-day problems. All reservations made . . .


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