Founded in 1991 as a center for the study of peace, security, and international cooperation, Global Studies first emerged as a member of a scholarly consortium with counterparts at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota. Over the course of ten years, the consortium engaged in a series of conferences, research projects, and curricular activities aimed at reformulating the field of security studies for the post-Cold War era. With funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, partners explored a wide range of issues, such as food security, environmental sustainability, global governance, and transnational feminisms. Perhaps just as importantly, the MacArthur grant provided crucial funding for graduate student field research on a broad range of topics, thereby educating a new generation of scholars experienced with inter-area, inter-disciplinary, and inter-institutional modes of scholarship.
In 1998, the UW International Institute and Global Studies expanded their commitment to interdisciplinary and cross-regional scholarship by launching the Advanced Studies Initiative (ASI) with support from the Ford Foundation under a grant aimed at "Crossing Borders: Revitalizing Area Studies." Over the course of three years, ASI supported research, teaching, and curricular innovation on themes with non-traditional geographies, including "Transcultural Studies," "Global Governance," and "Legacies of Violence." The Ford grant also helped to fund pioneering "global learning communities," linking scholars and practitioners worldwide.
As the foregoing initiatives completed their cycle of activities, Global Studies shifted its attention to securing federal funding as a National Resource Center (NRC) in international studies. Funded by Title VI of the Higher Education Act since 2003, Global Studies emphasizes research, teaching, and outreach as its foundational and complementary missions.