By Katie Neitz

From its inception in 1959, Lafayette’s international affairs (IA) major has provided students with opportunities to develop intellectual and practical skills to enable them to engage in a continually changing world.

IA has offered many educational events and activities—including study abroad trips, lectures, expert symposiums—to enrich its curricular programming. Recently it has become the fourth-largest major at the College.

Now you can explore the program’s entire history—and add your own memories, too.

IA is commemorating its 60th anniversary with an innovative digital timeline. It provides an illustrated overview of key moments and events that have shaped the program and student experiences.

“We scoured Lafayette College’s archives, the student newspaper, annual reports, and other sources to tell the stories of our students, faculty, and events over the years,” says Angelika von Wahl, associate professor and chair of international affairs.

The timeline, which was started by IA major Daniel Gonzalez ’20 and researched and populated with stories by Nicole DiRado, administrative coordinator, enables users to explore by decade or select specific areas of content, such as faculty, lectures or student activities.

The ultimate goal is for alumni, faculty, and staff to contribute their own memories and photographs to the timeline so that it reflects the greater Lafayette community’s experiences within IA.

IA is also hosting renowned speakers throughout the year as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration.

Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was invited to kick off IA’s anniversary. She spoke on campus in October about the global economy and Liberia through the Class of 1961 International Speaker Series. Sirleaf served as the 24th president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018 and was the first elected female head of state in Africa. In April, Kris Manjapra, professor of history at Tufts University, spoke as The Robert ’69 and Margaret Pastor Lecturer about the issue of reparations and slavery.

In October, IA will welcome journalist Fareed Zakaria, who hosts Fareed Zakaria GPS for CNN and is a columnist for The Washington Post, a contributing editor for The Atlantic, and a bestselling author.

Categorized in: Academic News, Featured News, International Affairs, News and Features


  1. JOE CORNELL '62 IA says:

    I believe both Ron and I are correct in our statements. When Sam Pascal approached our group in the spring of 1960, he asked us to be the first group in the newly approved IA major. The curriculum for this two-year program was not established until the Fall of 1960. We were not aware at the time that four seniors in the Class of 1961 would also graduate with an IA degree. It seems likely that Sam Pascal first proposed establishing IA as a major before the 1959 approval by the board of trustees, and if the program for the Class of 1961 had not succeeded, we would not have IA today and 1962 would not have been the first year to graduate with this new two-year major.

  2. Ronald E. Geesey says:

    Joe Cornell is mistaken about the first class to graduate with an International Affairs major. Page 99 of the Melange for the graduating year of 1961 shows my major as International Relations. Additionally in the 1961 yearbook page 44 bears the headline “International affairs majors have a challenging program”. Also graduating in 1961 as IA majors were George Benson (Page 90), John Goodell (p.100), and Martin Sandberg (p.117). I applied for admission to Lafayette in 1956 and visited the campus and met with Dr. Pascal in early 1957. As a result of this meeting I was awarded a full four tuition paid scholarship given by the Dixie Cup Corporation for an IA major.

    1. says:

      Ron, the requirements for an IA major were not approved by the Board of Trustees until the Fall of 1959. The first semester for implementation of these requirements was not until the Fall of 1960. When we met with Sam Pascal in the Spring of 1960, he informed us that the class of 1962 would be the first class to complete the full requirements for an IA major.
      I don’t doubt that you graduated with an IA degree, but you did not complete the two year requirement. Too bad Sam is no longer here to verify what transpired.

    2. says:

      Ron, when Sam gathered a group of then sophomores at his home in the Spring of 1960, he asked us to be the first graduating class with an IA major. Since the board only approved IA as a major with its own curriculum in the fall of 1959, and it required a two-year period of study, I am not sure what your degree required. Unfortunately, Sam is not here to clarify. I have confirmed the substance of our meeting with Sam with Matt Thomases, who was also in attendance.

  3. JOE CORNELL '62 IA says:

    In the Spring of 1959, Sam Pascal invited a small group of sophomores to his house on campus with the intent to select the first class to accept International Affairs as a major. I believe most of us accepted this invitation and became the first class in 1962 to graduate with a degree in International Affairs. Among those graduating with this degree were Freeman Shore, Matt Thomases, and myself.

    Our field of study for that initial class was Africa and the growth of PanAficanism. In our senior year we were required to pass a comprehensive exam covering all the subjects studied during the prior two years including government, history, language and economics.

    1961 was the first year of study for the IA major, but 1962 was the class to graduate with that major. I have spoken with Matt, and we would both be delighted to be invited to join any commemoration scheduled for this milestone.

    1. Joe Cornell says:

      There is a correction to my comment of May 8th. The meeting that took place with Sam Pascal was in the Spring of 1960 not 1959. The first semester for the IA program was in the Fall of 1960, and the first full two year program ended with the graduating class of 1962.

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