The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Inter-War International Relations (IR) Scholarship, 1925-1939

by Jan Stöckmann

Jan 1, 2016
From 1925 until well into the Second World War, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (LSRM) and the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) were some of the principle benefactors of institutions and individuals involved in the study of International Relations (IR). Their commitment included grants to research institutions, universities and university departments, libraries, conferences as well as individual scholars and academic refugees. In 1935 alone, budget tables indicate that the RF spent some $500,000 on IR activities in the United States and Europe. This interest in IR formed part of the RF's larger program in the social sciences, developed in the 1930s, and it documents their strategy to complement research in medicine and natural sciences with a better understanding of human interaction across borders. As long-time officer and sometime president of the RF Raymond B. Fosdick put it in his memoirs: "the missing factor [was] knowledge of human relationships." What is more, the RF articulated (at least in internal documents) an interest in having a practical impact on international relations, not simply the academic study thereof. In this regard, philanthropy in the field of IR mirrored the general tendency of inter-war IR to blend academia and diplomacy.
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