Emergence of IR as an Academic Discipline

Emergence of IR as an academic discipline

IR as a Distinct Academic Discipline

International Relations (IR) as a subject developed and emerged with multiple developments and events globally and internationally.

Although the aspects of IR have been studied for thousands of years, since the time of Thucydides, but IR became a separate and definable discipline in the early 20th century.

Let’s trace the emergence of IR historically as a distinct subject or academic discipline.

As a distinct field of study, International Relations (IR) was, initially, almost entirely British-centered.

In 1919, it emerged as a formal academic discipline with the founding of the first ‘chair’ in International Relations – the Woodrow Wilson Chair at Aberystwyth, University of Wales, from an endowment given by David Davies, became the first academic position dedicated to International Relations.

Soon after, the IR was rapidly established at US universities and Geneva, Switzerland.

In the early 1920s, the London School of Economics’ Department of International Relations was founded at the behest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Philip Noel-Baker.

In 1927, the Graduate Institute of International Studies was established. This was the first university entirely dedicated to the study of IR. This university was basically established to form diplomats associated with the League of Nations, established in Geneva some years before. The university also offered one of the first Ph.D. degrees in IR.

Likewise, in 1919, Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service was founded. It is the oldest International Relations faculty in the US.

Moreover, the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago was the first to offer a graduate degree in International Relations in 1928.

This is how IR as a separate academic disciple emerged. Today, this subject is taught in colleges and universities across the world.

How and why has IR emerged as a separate discipline in the 20th century?

The 20th century witnessed groundbreaking developments in the history of international relations. The two great wars and the emergence of international organizations for peace and mutual development have altogether changed the trajectory of international relations.

Furthermore, the rise of fascism, the cold war, confrontation between capitalism and communism, with all the other developments demanded theoretical study and understanding of the events. Multiple theories emerged to understand the international relations for policymaking and diplomacy.

With such developments in the 20th century, IR as a distinct subject became the need of the hour. This subject involved a diverse range of issues under its ambit; such as globalization, security, nationalism, economy, foreign intervention, human rights, etc.

This topic is one of the most important to prepare in the IR subject for competitive exams like CSS, PMS, UPSC, etc.
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