USC School of International Relations

University of Southern California School of International Relations
School of International Relations (SIR)
Type Private
Established 1924
Parent institution
University of Southern California
Director Robert English
Location Los Angeles, CA, USA
The Von KleinSmid Center of International and Public Affairs, where the School of International Relations is located on the University Park Campus of the University of Southern California.

The University of Southern California School of International Relations (SIR) is the third-oldest school of international relations in the world. A subdivision within the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, the school is known for teaching, and hiring faculty who concentrate in a variety of worldviews.


The school traces its origins to the early 1920s and then-University of Southern California president Rufus B. von KleinSmid who held a strong interest in developing the study of international relations. In 1922, USC hosted the Pan-American Conference on Education that brought together university officials from 22 countries to discuss the importance of international education and cooperation. In 1924, the Los Angeles University of International Relations was founded, to later be renamed the USC School of International Relations (SIR). The founding occurred during the liberal-internationalist reaction to World War I; during this so-called Grotian moment, many in international relations desired to end war, and thought education was the best means to that end. According to the school's website, its founding mission was "to furnish opportunities for the training of statesmen for consular and diplomatic service, of businessmen for commerce and business administration, and of teachers in departments related to world affairs in colleges and universities".[1] The school continued to grow during the Second World War and the Cold War; during the height of the latter, SIR housed the Research Institute on Communist Strategy and Propaganda. It was one of the first schools of international relations in the country to offer a PhD, became a charter member of The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), and helped to found the International Studies Association (ISA).

Areas of study

For majors entering the school in 2013 or before, concentrations in the following courses were offered, of which international relations majors had to choose two:[2]

For majors entering after 2013, there is no concentration requirement.


Since 2012, the Director of SIR has been Robert English. English earned his PhD from Princeton University and specializes in Russia, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe; international political economy; international relations theory; and ethnicity, religion and nationalism.

The preceding directors are John Odell (2009-12), Laurie Brand (2006-09), Steven Lamy (2001-06), Jonathan Aronson (1995-2001), Robert Friedheim (1992-95), Thomas J. Biersteker (1991-92), Gerald Bender (1986-91), Michael Fry (1981-86), Jay Savage (1979-81), James N. Rosenau (1976-79), Ross Berkes (1949-76), Claude A. Buss (1935-49), and Rufus B. von KleinSmid (1924-35).[3]


There are currently 24 permanent members of the faculty at the school. All have terminal degrees in their field, and have published numerous working papers, articles, and books.

Affiliated programs and institutions

In order to further the study of international relations, the school has created number of affiliates:


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