The History of BGIA

James Clarke Chace
James Clarke Chace

James Clarke Chace

BGIA was founded by the late diplomatic historian James Clarke Chace. Mr. Chace was the Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs, the World Policy Journal, and Paul W. Williams Professor of Government and Public Law at Bard College. He authored numerous articles and books on international affairs, including Acheson: The Secretary Of State Who Created The American World, and 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs-The Election that Changed the Country. BGIA honors Chace’s legacy with the James Clarke Chace speaker series.

A Note from Jonathan Becker

James Chace and I founded the Bard Globalization and International Affairs (BGIA) program in 2001 with the idea that students interested in international affairs could benefit tremendously from spending a semester interning at leading international organizations in New York City, taking classes with faculty who not only have academic credentials, but also real-world experience, and attending talks with some of the leading international affairs experts in the world. The program was put together quickly, in a matter of three months: we had the essential design and recruited our first class of fourteen students, all from Bard College in Annandale and Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

The program’s importance in terms of subject and place was underlined in its first month, when 9/11 occurred. It was during that first semester that James and I, together with the program’s first Deputy Director, Jamie Miller, realized that we had built something that exceeded our original estimations. Students, who were interning at organizations like Human Rights Watch, the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs and the Wall Street Journal, were not simply doing day-to-day administrative work, but were treated as young hires, given substantial responsibilities and gaining unique professional experiences. They enjoyed the way in which their professors’ professional experiences shaped their teaching, and they made connections with the diverse array of speakers who spoke in what is now the James Chace Memorial lecture series. The subsequent 15 years, including the decade that has gone by since James passed away, has demonstrated the effectiveness of the original concept. Graduates have gone on to graduate and professional school and amazing careers in international affairs. Many have now become internship mentors. The many conversations I have had with program alumni convince me that there is no program that Bard runs that has impacted the academic and professional trajectories of students more than BGIA.

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bard College
Director, Center for Civic Engagement