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Office of International Affairs
Teachers College, Columbia University
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TC's History with International Engagement

A History of International Involvment

Images from left to right: Paul Monroe; William C. Sayres; James E. Russell; Isaac L. Kandel; Harold J. Noah; R. Freeman Butts George Z. F. Bereday; George S. Counts; Susan Fuhrman. Photos courtesy of CIES-Teachers College 2008 Conference.

Teachers College (TC) has an extraordinary history of engaging in international education that has changed education both in the United States and abroad. At its founding in 1887, TC faculty members prepared teachers to educate the vast numbers of poor immigrant children entering public schools. In 1889, James E. Russell taught the first course on comparative education. As the first American institution to develop a program in comparative and international studies, TC was soon the epicenter for groundbreaking scholarship in comparative education and at the forefront of international collaboration. The College attracted international students, encouraged international exchange and thus greatly influenced international education reform throughout the world.

In 1923, the College established an International Institute, which pioneered efforts in international education reform and the professional training of foreign education leaders and students. Later, in 1961, TC launched Teachers for East Africa, a program that provided skilled teachers for secondary schools and teacher training colleges during the complex transition from colonial rule to independent states.

In 2008, President Susan Fuhrman established the Office of International Affairs (OIA), which is  responsible for carrying out the President's commitment to international involvement, and expanding the College's involvement with various stakeholders in international education. 

To read more about TC's role in shaping education around the world, click here