In Theory and In Practice: Harvard’s Center for International Affairs 1958-1983

David C. Atkinson (Purdue University)

Written to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Center for International Affairs, Atkinson’s history of the Center’s first twenty-five years traces the institutional and intellectual development of a research center that, decades later, continues to facilitate innovative scholarship. He explores the connection between knowledge and politics, beginning with the Center’s confident first decade—distinguished by groundbreaking research and access to influential policy makers in Washington—and concludes with the second decade, which found the CFIA embroiled in the turbulence of Vietnam-era student protests.

Digging deep into unpublished material in the Harvard, MIT, and Kennedy Library archives, the book is punctuated with personal interviews with influential CFIA affiliates. Atkinson describes the relationship between foreign policy and scholarship during the cold war and documents the maturation of a remarkable academic institution. Notwithstanding Harvard’s initial reticence, the CFIA has endured for half a century and ultimately has grown into the largest international affairs research center in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

I was the line editor (substantive editor) for this book, which is available from Harvard University Press.