Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

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Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Watson Institute Logo.png
Watson Institute (Brown) 5.jpg
Named afterThomas J. Watson, Jr.
PurposeResearch, Teaching, and Public Engagement
Headquarters111 Thayer Street, Providence, RI, 02912
LeaderEdward Steinfeld
Parent organization
Brown University
Formerly called
Center for Foreign Policy Development

The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs is an interdisciplinary research center at Brown University. Its mission is to "promote a just and peaceful world through research, teaching, and public engagement."[1] The Institute's research focuses on three main areas: development, security, and governance. Its faculty include anthropologists, economists, political scientists, sociologists, and historians, as well as journalists and other practitioners. The Institute is directed by Edward Steinfeld, professor in the Department of Political Science, and director of the China Initiative at Brown University.[2]


The Institute occupies three buildings surrounding a central plaza located at the edge of Brown University's campus on the East Side of Providence. The first is a modern and architecturally distinctive building at 111 Thayer Street, designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly in 2001. A second, older building at 59 Charlesfield Street was renovated in 2018.[3] Stephen Robert Hall, a glass-walled structure at 280 Brook St, was designed by architect Toshiko Mori and completed in 2018.[3] The three buildings are connected by bridges and walkways. [3]


The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs began to fulfill two parallel missions: "to bring international perspective into the life of Brown University, and to promote peace through international relations research and policy." In 1981, with the support and guidance of 1937 Brown alumnus Thomas J. Watson, Jr., former chairman of IBM and Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Brown University founded the Center for Foreign Policy Development. The Center was formed to explore solutions to the major global issues of the day, foremost of which was the possibility of a nuclear encounter between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1986, the University created the Institute for International Studies to integrate the Center and Brown's other international programs. In 1991, the Institute was rededicated in Watson's honor. Originally housed in five separate locations on campus, the programs of the Watson Institute moved into a single building at 111 Thayer Street, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, in January 2002.[4]

2014-2019: Expansion[edit]

63-65 Charlesfield Street, with Stephen Robert Hall behind it
Stephen Robert Hall opened in 2018

In 2014, the Watson Institute merged with the Taubman Center for Public Policy, which had previously been housed in the Department of Political Science.[5]

In 2015, the Institute received a $50 million gift to expand facilities and hire additional faculty. This gift enabled the construction of a new building at 280 Brook Street and renovation of an existing building at 59 Charlesfield Street.[6] The new 23,000 square foot building, Stephen Robert Hall, opened in late 2018 and held its first classes in January 2019. Stephen Robert Hall is a glass structure designed by architect Toshiko Mori. Its central feature is a large atrium with a cafe. The new Robert Hall is connected to Watson's original buildings at 111 Thayer and 59 Charlesfield through walkways and bridges, surrounding a central courtyard, Starr Plaza, at the center of the complex.[7]


Watson houses three undergraduate degree programs - Development Studies, International Relations and Public Policy. Graduate programs offered at the Watson Institute include the Graduate Program in Development (Ph.D.) and the Public Policy Program (M.P.A.). The Graduate Program in Development (GPD) is an NSF-funded, interdisciplinary program that supports the training of PhD candidates in anthropology, political science, economics, and sociology. The Public Policy program is a one-year intensive (summer – fall – spring) full-time degree with a focus on quantitative policy analysis and management. The Institute also offers Post Doctoral, professional development and global outreach programming.[citation needed]

Area studies[edit]

The following area studies centers are based at Watson: the Brazil Initiative, the Africa Initiative, the Center for Contemporary South Asia (CCSA), the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), the China Initiative, and Middle East Studies (MES).

Professional programs[edit]

Two professional outreach programs are based at the Institute. The Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI) provides the opportunity for junior scholars and practitioners from all over the world to study together at the Institute. According to Watson's website, BIARI "aims to build transnational scholarly networks while also providing opportunities for professional development. Each summer, BIARI brings promising young faculty from the Global South together with leading scholars in their fields for two-week intensive residential institutes."[8]

Choices develops and publishes curriculum resources for high school social studies classrooms, and leads seminars for secondary school teachers. The program's mission is "to equip young people with the skills, habits, and knowledge necessary to be engaged citizens who are capable of addressing international issues with thoughtful public discourse and informed decision making."[8]


The Watson Institute is the editorial home to three academic journals:

Watson also publishes a working paper series, distributed by SSRN:

Notable faculty[edit]

Diplomats and politicians[edit]



  1. ^ "About Watson Institute | Watson Institute". Watson.brown.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  2. ^ Torres, Jaclyn (2015-10-21). "Edward Steinfeld appointed Watson Institute director". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  3. ^ a b c Kiley, Gillian (12 December 2018). "Newly expanded Watson Institute opens the doors to Stephen Robert Hall". Brown University. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Watson Institute History | Watson Institute". Watson.brown.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  5. ^ Nickel, Mark (5 November 2015). "Watson Institute to expand facilities and faculty with $50M gift". Brown University. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  6. ^ Aratani, Lauren (2015-11-03). "Watson Institute receives $50 million gift". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  7. ^ Hack, Celia (2017-09-25). "Watson Institute to see extensive renovations, construction of new building". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  8. ^ a b "Education | Watson Institute". Watson.brown.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  9. ^ January 8; Nickel 401-863-2476, 2009 Media contact: Mark. "Former Austrian Chancellor Appointed as Visiting Professor". news.brown.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  10. ^ Barnes, Taylor (2007-03-22). "'Accidental President' Cardoso returns to Brazil". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  11. ^ Speyer, Anne (2009-02-11). "Holbrooke '62 expected to keep Watson appointment". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  12. ^ Aratani, Lauren (2015-04-21). "Former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos shares experiences, advice". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  13. ^ Moser, Hannah (2009-03-31). "Q&A with Romano Prodi". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  14. ^ Aman, Rebecca (2018-09-13). "Aman '20: Former RNC Chair Michael Steele's appointment as faculty fellow supports U. mission". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-02-15.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°49′31″N 71°24′00″W / 41.82515°N 71.39999°W / 41.82515; -71.39999