Founded in 1918, the mission of the Foreign Policy Association today, as it has been throughout its 95-year history, is to serve as a catalyst for developing awareness, understanding, and informed opinion on U.S. foreign policy and global issues. Through its balanced, nonpartisan programs and publications, the FPA encourages citizens to participate in the foreign policy process.
Inform: The FPA is the principal public forum in New York City for foreign policy addresses, attracting broad national and international attention. Over the years, U.S. presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, have delivered major addresses before FPA audiences. Through its annual meetings program and World Leadership Forum, the FPA gives members access to discussion and debate on the most critical issues facing America today. More than 60 heads of government have participated in the World Leadership Forum since 2000.
Engage: FPA’s Great Decisions program has flourished over the past 60 years into a multi-dimensional global studies programs, adapted to multiple formats, including informal discussion groups, public lectures and formal secondary and university courses. Published annually by FPA, the Great Decisions briefing book highlights eight of the most thought-provoking foreign policy challenges facing Americans today. The Great Decisions briefing book serves as the focal text for discussion groups by providing background information, expert analysis, and suggested discussion questions for each foreign policy issue. The Great Decisions television series on PBS is broadcast to 75% of U.S. households and is available on DVD. FPA’s blog network, Foreign Policy Blogs, is the largest network of global affairs blogs online. Staffed by scores of professional contributors from the worlds of journalism, academia, business, non-profits and think tanks, Foreign Policy Blogs tracks global developments from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between.
- Inspire: The Foreign Policy Association hopes to inspire others to participate in international affairs and the foreign policy process. FPA’s Global Career Boot Camps and Global Job Board provide invaluable tools for internationally-minded professionals. FPA’s Global Career Boot Camps include specialized seminars, networking opportunities and inside tips on landing a global job. From non-profit organizations to governments, FPA’s Global Job Board is the most comprehensive source of internationally-minded job opportunities, both in the United States and abroad.
2011-2012 Annual Report [PDF]
Watch a brief history of the FPA narrated by Tom Brokaw of NBC News
A brief history of the FPA
The Foreign Policy Association was founded in 1918 as the League of Free Nations Association. It was formed by 141 distinguished Americans to support President Woodrow Wilson's efforts to achieve a just peace. The Association was reconstituted in 1923 as the Foreign Policy Association with a commitment to the careful study of all sides of international questions affecting the U.S. John Foster Dulles and Eleanor Roosevelt were among the incorporators.
FPA's mission remains much the same today. However, the programs implemented to achieve this mission have changed with the times. Below are some of "FPA's Milestones," which help explain how FPA got where it is today.
You can also order a copy of Foreign Policy in a Democracy: The Role of the Foreign Policy Association" to learn about FPA's origins and its work to educate the public about U.S. foreign policy and global affairs.
Check out the Foreign Policy Association on Wikipedia.
In the 1920s...
Saturday luncheon discussions on foreign policy were initiated by FPA at the Astor Hotel in New York City.
In the 1930s...
Discussions among citizens spread, and FPA branches in the 1930s and 1940s were forerunners of the independent World Affairs Councils of the 1950s.
FPA's publications, Foreign Policy Reports (1925-51), Foreign Policy Bulletin (1920-61) and Headline Series (1935-present), became known for their clear and impartial analysis of foreign policy issues.
FPA's "Off-the-Record" lecture series was formed in 1938 by 19 women wishing to be better informed about international affairs.
The OTR lecture series celebrates its 57th year in 1995. With a membership of close to 600, it continues to involve discerning participants from the Greater New York area who meet 11 times a year to hear and to question leading authorities on foreign affairs.
In the 1940s...
FPA pioneered international affairs radio discussions by broadcasting New York meetings and weekly talks on "The World Today" over the NBC network.
Today, FPA's national television and radio programs, and educational outreach across the country, bring FPA programs to millions of Americans.
In the 1950s...
In 1954, the Great Decisions program was launched in Oregon. Based on the annual briefing book prepared by FPA's editors, Great Decisions has become the largest nonpartisan public education program on international affairs in the world.
In the 1960s...
FPA undertook a new educational challenge--to improve the teaching of world affairs in the nation's schools.
Today the preparation of innovative study materials and teachers' guides, as well as workshops for teachers, are FPA priorities.
The forerunner of FPA's Citizen's Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy, prepared every Presidential election year, was published in 1968.
In the 1970s...
Great Decisions opinion ballots were tabulated nationally for the first time.
Every year results of ballot tabulations are presented to the White House, the departments of State and Defense, Members of Congress and the nation's media.
FPA emerges as the leading public foreign policy forum for national and international leaders.
Among those who have addressed FPA audiences are Great Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, China's Premier Zhao Ziyang, India's Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Australia's Prime Minister Robert Hawke, the Soviet Union's Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard A. Shevardnadze, His Majesty King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho, Nicaragua's President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico, President Carlos Saul Menem of Argentina, as well as then-Governor Bill Clinton, Secretaries of State and Secretaries of Defense.
In the 1980s...
FPA founded the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C.
The first "Think International" Essay Contest for high school students was held.
FPA held its first Student Town Meeting in 1985. Students and their teachers have participated in town meetings where the following leaders have responded to their questions: General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., President Jimmy Carter, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, Congressman Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Donald F. McHenry, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, among others.
In 1986, FPA initiated its "model sites" project designed to foster collaboration among local school districts, community organizations and colleges and universities.
FPA founded the Young Professionals Group (YPG). Members meet regularly to discuss world issues with experts.
In the 1990s...
FPA and the Ford Foundation co-published five books in the South Africa UPDATE Series, a detailed account of South Africa in the 1980s.
The third edition of Guide to Careers in World Affairs, by FPA's editors, was published in 1993. FPA held its sixth annual Careers in World Affairs Seminar in 1994.
In the 2000s...
FPA creates the World Leadership Forum, a premier global affairs event in New York City that gives members access to discussion and debate on the most critical issues facing America today. More than 60 heads of government have participated in the World Leadership Forum since 2000.
FPA.org emerges as a pioneering international affairs Web site, providing support for the Great Decisions program, offering career development services like its Global Job Board and analysis of U.S. foreign policy.
FPA launches www.ForeignPolicyBlogs.com, the largest network of global affairs blogs online.
FPA creates Global Affairs Boot Camps that aim to train the next generation of Foreign Policy professionals.
The Great Decisions Teacher Training Institute brings high school teachers from across the U.S. to New York City for intensive training on educating students on internaitonal issues.
The Great Decisions Television Series goes HD, reaching 1.2 million viewers across the United States. It's transformation from a talk show to documentary increases its appeal on digital services like iTunes.