Carnegie Council History

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs was founded in New York City in 1914, when Andrew Carnegie assembled a group of leaders in religion, academia and politics and appointed them trustees of an organization named the Church Peace Union (CPU). Through the CPU, Carnegie hoped to mobilize the world's churches, religious organizations and other spiritual and moral resources to join in promoting moral leadership and finding alternatives to armed conflict. William P. Merrill, pastor of New York's Brick Church, became the first president of the Church Peace Union.

The timing of the CPU's founding was significant. On the very eve of World War I, Carnegie sought to make war obsolete for all time. For its inaugural international event, the Church Peace Union sponsored a conference to be held on August 1, 1914, on the shores of Lake Constance in southern Germany. As the delegates made their way to the conference by train, Germany was invading Belgium.

Despite its inauspicious beginning, the CPU thrived. Its early activities included instituting educational programs, campaigning for issues such as decreased defense spending and the elimination of military training in public schools, and promoting debate and publishing on topics of international concern. The CPU's work established the organization as a significant voice on the conduct of international affairs. In the years between the two world wars, the CPU expanded its focus to incorporate issues such as the formation of a League of Nations and the influence of the United States in resolving international conflict.

Following World War II, the CPU further established its presence in the United States and abroad, disseminating its work through regional outposts, educational meetings, group discussions and seminars. The organization continued to adapt its mission to the changing times, turning its attention to the establishment of the United Nations and the prevention of nuclear proliferation. In 1958, it launched a monthly publication, Worldview, which ran until 1985. With contributions from many distinguished authors, Worldview helped the CPU take up broad themes and debates and move away from its earlier advocacy role.

In 1961, the CPU was renamed Council on Religion and International Affairs (CRIA). A. William Loos, executive director of the organization since 1955, was given the title of president in 1963. CRIA sought to explore the moral dimensions of a wide range of issues. Particular attention was given to the dangers of a crusading moralism in U.S. foreign policy. Among a number of activities, CRIA developed the Conversations program, a monthly series of off-the-record public affairs presentations by well-known speakers on international affairs. This continues today as the Public Affairs Program, but it is no longer off-the-record. You can find audios, transcripts, and videos of the events on the Council's website.

In 1977, the Council introduced the CRIA Distinguished Lecture on Ethics and Foreign Policy, which was later named the Morgenthau Memorial Lecture in honor of longtime trustee Hans J. Morgenthau, who, through his study of the relationships between principle and power, interpreted the realities of international politics for the Cold War generation.

In an effort both to honor founder Andrew Carnegie and to expand the focus of the organization further, CRIA was renamed Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs (CCEIA) in 1986. In 1995, Joel H. Rosenthal became president of the Council. Under his direction, the organization continues to draw on moral thinking in its study of ethics and politics and its pursuit of a just world, emphasizing the commitment of its founder to greater international understanding, justice and peace.

In 2005, the Council changed its name to Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. An independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, the Council's mission is to be the voice for ethics in international policy. Today Carnegie Council focuses on three broad themes: Ethics, War, and Peace, Global Social Justice, and Religion in Politics.

The Council convenes agenda-setting forums and creates educational opportunities and information resources for a worldwide audience of teachers and students, journalists, international affairs professionals, and the attentive public. The Council's flagship publication is a quarterly scholarly journal, Ethics & International Affairs, which was launched in 1987. As an operating, rather than a grant-making foundation, the Council supports programs that it initiates and also works with partner organizations.

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