Educating Internationalists: The Context, Role and Legacies of the UIA’s ‘International University’

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This chapter examines an ambitious venture in international higher education: the "International University" (Université Internationale) launched by the Union of International Associations (UIA), a Brussels-based organisation that sought to be the focal point for a range of international ventures. At the time of its foundation in 1910, the UIA had already envisaged the creation of an "international university". While these ideas did not bear fruit immediately, they were put into practice after the First World War: in 1920, 1921, 1924 and 1927, the UIA organized four sessions of its "Université Internationale". On each of these occasions, a host of lecturers and students came to Brussels for a fortnight. While ultimately amounting to little more than an international summer school, this initiative was supposed to lay the foundation for a more permanent institution that would educate future protagonists of internationalism. The chapter traces the rationale for and the practicalities of these sessions.

Seen from one angle, the "Université Internationale" needs to be seen in the context of the UIA’s wider activities, which aimed at the promotion of international cooperation both through the gathering and dissemination of information alongside the organisation of congresses and other activities. This aspect is illustrated by the timing of these university sessions: they coincided with the "Quinzaines Internationales" – "international fortnights" through which the UIA founders Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine sought to attract the representatives of international organizations to their "world palace" in Brussels.

At a more general level, the "Université Internationale’ embodied the nexus between ideas about education and international order. To shed light on this issue, the chapter sets the UIA’s venture in relation to a variety of other "international university" proposals as well as summer schools with an internationalist agenda. It will also draw attention to the way in which the League of Nations responded to such schemes. On the whole, the chapter highlights the prominence that supporters of internationalism ascribed to university schemes and it reveals the role of international education within the internationalist imagination.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Organizations and Global Civil Society
Subtitle of host publicationHistories of the Union of International Associations
EditorsDaniel Laqua, Wouter van Acker, Christophe Verbruggen
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781350055643, 9781350055612
ISBN (Print)9781350055636
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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