Sigma Iota Rho

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Sigma Iota Rho (ΣΙΡ) is a collegiate honor society for international studies recognized by the International Studies Association.

The purpose of ΣΙΡ is to promote and reward scholarship and service among students and faculty in higher education so as to foster creative performance and integrity in the conduct of world affairs. Its members are predominantly advanced undergraduates (juniors and seniors) who have demonstrated exceptional academic performance and engagement in international affairs. These individuals are guided by faculty advisors from over 140 colleges and universities with established chapters.

Sigma Iota Rho, Honor Society for International Studies
Founded May 9, 1984
Scope International Relations, Area Studies
Vision statement Promote and reward scholarship and service among students and practitioners of international affairs and global studies so as to foster integrity and creative performance in the conduct of international relations.
Motto "Prudence, Ideals, Power"
Chapters 140
Headquarters University of Pennsylvania


Sigma Iota Rho was founded on May 9, 1984, on the initiative of scholars and practitioners who sought a national platform to recognize excellence in international affairs and foster values in the field. Aptly, the Greek letters representative of the society are: sigma (Σ) denotes "synesis," meaning "prudence"; iota (I) for ideodoi, "ideals"; and rho (P) for rhomi, "power."

Among the founders of ΣΙΡ was the late-Dr. William C. Olson, Ph.D., then-dean of the School of International Service at American University, who served as its first president. Also among the group was Theodore Couloumbis, Ph.D., who determined the society's Greek letters and identity.

Currently, the president and national director of SIR is Frank Plantan,Ph.D., co-director of the University of Pennsylvania's International Relations Program.


Members of Sigma Iota Rho take part in advancing the honor society's cause for furthering study and awareness of international affairs. To this end, they collaborate yearly to produce the Journal of International Relations, the leading undergraduate periodical in its field. Additionally, the national office of the honor society administers an award scheme that funds worthy research projects by fellow members. At the local level, ΣΙΡ's chapters routinely host extracurricular events in enriching local campus and communities. Typically these include hosting speaker events, networking events, and fundraising drives for a particular global issue or cause.

Induction is based on standards similar to those of Phi Beta Kappa. Students with outstanding academic credentials in international relations, global affairs, and other majors in the domain of international studies are nominated by their local chapters for induction into Sigma Iota Rho. Generally, they undergraduates who are in the top percentiles of their classes and areas of study.

Nominees are submitted to the national office of the honor society for verification and approval. Upon induction, students are issued a certificate confirming membership, regalia for graduation ceremonies, and invited to participate in the organization's national networking group on LinkedIn.

In effort to distinguish the efforts of those whom serve as models of the honor society, the national office announced in summer 2012 national commendations, the "Faculty Advisor" and "Featured Chapter" Awards. The first recipient of the faculty distinction was Francine D'Amico, Ph.D., advisor of Syracuse University's chapter, Alpha Chi—housed in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs—which won the Featured Chapter Award.

Journal of International Relations[edit]

The premier undergraduate peer-reviewed periodical for international affairs, the Journal of International Relations (ISSN 2159-1741) has a physical circulation of over 3,000 copies to over 150 institutions affiliated with Sigma Iota Rho and the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs. Each edition features a special article by a leading voice in international relations. This year’s edition is marked by Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Past contributors include Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank.

Born in 1998 as an in-house journal for the University of Pennsylvania's International Relations Program—under the direction of Frank Plantan, Ph.D. and Bruce Newsome, Ph.D. -- it became a national publication in 2004. Current and back editions are found digitally, through Sigma Iota Rho's website, and in the Library of Congress.


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