Frequently asked questions about the Freeman Spogli Institute

What is FSI?

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) is Stanford University's premier research institute for international studies. Our mission is to:

  • Produce world-class, worldwide research. With 150 researchers, of whom 44 are appointed faculty, FSI houses a diverse group of research centers and programs dedicated to deep investigation of critical global issues.
  • Teach and train tomorrow's leaders. Each year we educate dozens of graduate students and future policy leaders, as well as hundreds of undergraduates, in traditional classroom settings and with innovative fieldwork opportunities.
  • Engage policymakers. Our work provides context for decision-making in Washington, Geneva, Beijing and beyond.

As a hub for interdisciplinary research, FSI is home to six major research centers:

When was FSI founded?

It was founded in 1987 as the Institute for International Studies (IIS), became the Stanford Institute for International Studies (SIIS) in 2003 and changed its name on September 1, 2005 to the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University (FSI), in recognition of a generous gift from Stanford alumni Bradford Freeman (1964) and Ronald Spogli (1970).

Why was it founded?

Its founding was the result of the 1983 appointment of a faculty committee to undertake a comprehensive review of international studies at Stanford. This committee concluded that Stanford "should be leading the way in International Studies as we do in science and technology," and challenged the university to create an Institute for International Studies that would encompass the teaching, research, public service, and administrative functions of interdisciplinary international programs. It was created under the direction of Richard Lyman, a former Stanford University president, who was charged with developing and leading an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to international issues at Stanford.

How many faculty and researchers does FSI have?

The Institute draws together more than 150 Stanford faculty, researchers, and visiting scholars. It has a number of joint and affiliated faculty appointments with all seven schools at Stanford University: Humanities and Sciences, Law, Medicine, Earth Sciences, Education, Engineering, and the Graduate School of Business.

Does FSI grant degrees?

No, but it has active programs for training and teaching both graduate and undergraduate students. It has two undergraduate honors programs: the CISAC Interschool Honors Program in International Security Studies; and the CDDRL Honors Program. It also supports a number of undergraduate and graduate fellowships that are designed to assist students with the advancement and completion of their research work.

Who is FSI's director?

FSI's director is Prof. Michael McFaul, a professor of political science at Stanford and former US Ambassador to Russia.

In 1991, Professor Walter P. Falcon was appointed director with Law Professor Thomas C. Heller as deputy director. In 1998, they were followed by David Holloway as director and Coit D. Blacker as deputy director. In 2003, Blacker succeeded Holloway as Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute. After Blacker stepped down as director in 2012, former Stanford President Gerhard Casper led FSI for one year. Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar was FSI's director from 2013-2015. 

How is FSI funded?

The majority of the Institute's activities are supported by endowment funds, research grants and gifts from individual and corporate donors. Of its FY 2008-09 revenues of approximately $28 million, 85 percent originated from its endowment, foundation grants, and gifts, while 10 percent came from the University's general fund.

How is FSI governed?

The FSI Faculty Committee (formerly the FSI Executive Committee) is the institute's governing body. Its members represent faculty at the institute's research centers and programs, and meet regularly to address appointments and other institute business. The FSI Steering Committee is advisory to the Director on matters relating to the institute's management, growth, and development. The members of the institute's Advisory Board, which meets twice a year, fill a crucial role in the life of the institute by becoming informed advocates of FSI, both on and off the Stanford campus. The Board serves as a bridge between the world of scholarship and the worlds of policymaking, industry, and the nonprofit sector. It plays an important role in FSI's development efforts, by identifying sources of funding for its new and existing programs.

Does FSI have a political or ideological orientation?

As a university research institute, FSI does not represent any political ideology. Rather, it provides independent scholarship that is guided by disciplinary standards of academic excellence. Our scholars produce research that meets the requirements set by peer-reviewed journals, academic presses, and granting foundations, independent of partisan political or commercial interests.

What is FSI's role in the University's International Initiative?

In April 2005, Stanford President John Hennessy launched the Stanford International Initiative, designed to promote cutting edge research and cross-campus collaborations on three overarching issues: promoting peace and security, reforming and improving governance at all levels of society, and advancing human well-being. The Initiative will provide funding for new faculty positions and interdisciplinary research, new course offerings, and expanded outreach to policymakers and the public. As the University's primary forum for interdisciplinary research on key international issues and challenges, FSI has been tasked with the leadership role in the Initiative. The director of FSI, Chip Blacker, co-chairs the Initiative and chairs its Executive Committee.

When was CISAC founded?

It was founded in 1983 by John Lewis and Sidney Drell to conduct research, teaching, and policy outreach on issues of international security and arms control. CISAC evolved from a much earlier undergraduate class on Arms Control and Disarmament taught by Lewis, Wolfgang Panofsky, and John Barton. From the start, CISAC has been jointly led by two co-directors with social science and science expertise, respectively, to better inform its research, training, and outreach. Co-directors over the past twenty years have included William Perry, Michael May, David Holloway, Scott Sagan, Siegfried Hecker and Christopher Chyba.

What is the history of Shorenstein APARC?

Shortly after the founding of CISAC, the Northeast Asia Forum was developed, with Professors Daniel Okimoto and John Lewis as co-directors. This forerunner organization eventually became the Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), which was formally established in 1992. In the early years, APARC's research focused on trade and security issues in Northeast Asia, but the scope of its work has since expanded significantly. Today, under the leadership of Gi-Wook Shin (who also directs the Korean Studies program at Stanford), the Center's research covers a wide range of economic, political, and social issues that affect contemporary Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia. Past Center directors include Lawrence Lau, Henry Rowen, and Andrew Walder. On September 1, 2005, APARC changed its name to the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, or Shorenstein APARC, in honor of one of its most generous benefactors.

When was CHP/PCOR founded?

The Center for Health Policy/Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research (CHP/PCOR) was created in 1998 in cooperation with the School of Medicine. This Center, under the direction of physician and health economist Alan Garber, looks at five areas of health policy: comparative health care systems and epidemiology; health care financing; health expenditure forecasting; effects of the legal and regulatory environment on the provision of health care; and managed care and the effects of structural changes in the health care market.

What is CDDRL?

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) was launched in 2002. Its first director was Coit Blacker, followed by Stephen Krasner, then Michael McFaul, and now headed by Larry Diamond. CDDRL's purpose is to look at the relationship between economic development, political institutions, and the rule of law. It is a multi-disciplinary center populated by faculty from Stanford Law and Business Schools, and the School of Humanities and Sciences.

What is The Europe Center?

Fall 2010 marked the launch of The Europe Center (formerly the Forum on Contemporary Europe/FCE), housed jointly within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Division of International, Comparative and Area Studies (ICA). The Europe Center serves as Stanford's main center for research on European affairs, trans-Atlantic relations, and the role of Europe and the United States in addressing today's most pressing global economic, political, and security issues.

Which is the newest of FSI's six major research centers?

The Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE) was elevated from a program to center in September 2011. FSE remains a joint center between the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (Woods). The center's mission is to address critical global issues of hunger, poverty and environmental degradation by generating vital knowledge and policy-relevant solutions. Scholars centrally involved with the center have senior fellow appointments within FSI, Woods, and/or professorial positions within university departments.

What is SPICE?

It stands for the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education and came about in 1976. It is the Institute's primary outreach program focused on creating multidisciplinary curriculum materials, reflecting FSI research themes and priorities, for K-14 students around the country and independent schools abroad.

How can I get more information about FSI?

For more information, please call 650-723-4734 or mail correspondence to

Freeman Spogli Institute
Stanford University
616 Serra St
Stanford, CA 94305-6055

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