Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 311–325 | Cite as

From international to inter-allied: transatlantic university relations in the era of the First World War, 1905–1920

  • Tomás IrishEmail author
Regular paper


In the early twentieth century, inter-university connections flourished internationally, the result of action by state and non-state actors. Exchange professorships thrived in the pre-war period and could simultaneously serve the desires of the universities, states, and individuals concerned. When war broke out in 1914, these networks were utilised by national governments in France and Germany to communicate their version of the truth to neutral communities in the USA, with Columbia University prominent in this process. The war split the international scholarly community with the Germans isolated by late 1914. Into this void the allied nations increasingly sought to create permanent links between their universities, a process which intensified as the USA moved towards war from late 1916. Inter-allied university connections literally embodied the new alliance of wartime, which was at the same time political, military, and cultural, but it also presented an opportunity for Britain and France to usurp the traditional dominance of German universities internationally. While the inter-allied emphasis of wartime was largely undone by the mid-1920s with Germany re-entering the international fold, the war experience did have important consequences, such as the rise of American studies in Europe and the entrenchment of Western Civilisation courses at American universities.


war universities exchanges mobilisation 


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© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and ClassicsSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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