Columbia University's School of International Affairs was founded in 1946 in the aftermath of World War II. Emphasizing practical training, the School's mission was to foster understanding of geographic regions of vital interest and to prepare diplomats, officials, and other professionals to meet the complex needs of the postwar world.
The School originated in dynamic regional institutes that drew on Columbia's renowned resources in history, economics, political science, linguistics, and other fields, showing an interdisciplinary vision considered bold for its day. During the 1950s and 1960s, the School expanded in scope and depth. SIA, as it was then called, developed a national and international reputation as a leading center for educational and research programs in area studies, security, and international relations. By 1967, the School was home to eight regional institutes, covering nearly every corner of the globe. Originally housed in a row of brownstones, the School moved to a new building on Columbia University's east campus in 1971.