History of GSI
In the summer of 2000, the History Department approached Mr. John Buxton, Culver Head of Schools, with a proposal to create a center for the study of international affairs. A mission statement for the proposed “Global Studies Institute” had been drafted for Mr. Buxton’s perusal. The mission statement read, in part, “to prepare Culver students for citizenship in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world by giving them the opportunity to interact with thinkers, leaders, and scholars from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds.”
Mr. Buxton embraced the idea and suggested a pilot project, where Culver would host an intensive seminar for interested students on some topic of vital interest to the world community. Acting on Mr. Buxton’s vision, the newly established Global Studies Institute invited nuclear arms expert Dr. David Cortright to conduct an all-day symposium on the subject—“The Nuclear Threat.” It was the Global Studies Institute’s first seminar. Students and faculty responded with enthusiasm.
The Cortright symposium led to other, longer seminars, some lasting several days. These seminars featured world-class scholars from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, as well as Harvard, Notre Dame, and the University of Chicago. Several Culver patrons warmed to the idea of an institute devoted to world affairs and their generous gifts enabled the GSI to grow and expand. Meanwhile, the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies served as “unofficial” mentor, providing advice, as well as guest scholars.
In the fall of 2001, eight distinguished global leaders were invited to serve as advisors to the Global Studies Institute, and each accepted the invitation. A year later, teleconferencing was introduced when 40 Culver students, attending a seminar on AIDS in Africa, dialogued with Harvard’s renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs. In early 2003, the GSI made its inaugural visit to the very center of world leadership—the United Nations. More visits followed. The Institute has applied for official accreditation with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization, a first for secondary schools.
The Global Studies Institute anticipates further growth and expansion as it becomes endowed, builds a new home, and continues to provide students, faculty, and alumni with the unprecedented opportunity to communicate across oceans and cultures—in effect, to create a blue-print for global studies in the twenty-first century.
Emerson’s sentiment remains our vision—“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” This publication is submitted to Mr. Buxton with immense gratitude for his leadership and foresight in allowing the GSI “to go where there is no path and leave a trail.”