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Since 1947, the Council on International Educational Exchange, known as CIEE and formerly, Council, has been in pursuit of its mission, "to help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world." Our services to young people studying and teaching abroad are more important than ever. As we look ahead, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles and values that guide this mission statement.
Council on International Educational Exchange Inc. (CIEE) is a nonprofit educational and cultural exchange organization that oversees study abroad programs, teaching programs, and volunteer-run projects on an international basis. The CIEE is involved in approximately 60 study abroad programs and 800 volunteer projects in 30 countries, providing services for individuals, communities, educational institutions, and employers.
Following World War II, there were numerous efforts to bridge the cultural and political divides separating nations. After six years of hostility and atrocity, the need to achieve a greater sense of international understanding became paramount, spawning the formation of organizations and institutions chartered to promote peaceful coexistence and mutual respect in a world devastated by conflict. Student exchange programs were perceived as one way to improve international relations and to cultivate cultural awareness at the same time, but, according to consensus, educational organizations and other groups devoted to promoting student and teacher travel would need help coordinating their efforts. The CIEE became the entity that accepted such a role, offering itself as an association of organizations committed to promoting harmony among nations by promoting student and teacher travel.
Immediately following the war, securing transportation for overseas travel stood as the greatest impediment to developing exchange programs. Numerous educational agencies interested in sending exchange students abroad to conferences, work camps, and study seminars began petitioning the U.S. Department of State for the use of military troop transports for the summer of 1947. The Department of State obliged, asking the Maritime Commission to supply two C-4 vessels to be used for sending U.S. students on exchange programs to Europe. The United States Lines and Moore-McCormick Line were asked to serve as general agents for the vessels, marking the beginning of what became known as the "Student Ship Project," the primary focus of the CIEE for decades.
The CIEE was formed in May 1947, beginning as the Council on Student Travel (CST). Initially, the CST lacked a permanent office and staff, but it played a significant role in fostering student travel from the start, assigning work to committees such as the American Prince Service Committee, the International Institute of Education and the Experiment in International Living to arrange transportation for students who wanted to study abroad. The CST was quick to point out during its first months of existence that it was not a travel agency; travel arrangements were made with travel agent associate members such as American Abroad, Brownell Travel Bureau, Transmarine Tours, and American Express. Instead, it described itself as a nonprofit association interested solely in encouraging and facilitating educational travel abroad, endeavoring to create young "ambassadors" versed in different cultures whose experiences would improve international relations.The CST accepted 32 organizations and institutions during its first year, drawing its membership from U.S. nonprofit educational and cultural agencies that sponsored groups of students traveling to Europe for educational purposes. During its first three years of overseeing the Student Ship Project, the CST coordinated transportation and developed orientation programs for 10,000 U.S. and foreign students, teachers, research workers, and others in the educational and religious fields. The transportation of the 10,000 individuals, which was restricted to the summer months of 1947, 1948, and 1949, was handled by C-4 vessels and several Dutch ships placed in service through joint effort between the Dutch government and the Holland-America Line.
During its first decades of operation, the CST was best known as the organization behind the Student Ship Project. Specifically, the organization earned recognition for its orientation programs conducted during transAtlantic passages, ten-day programs that included lectures and discussions on social, economic, political, and cultural issues related to destination countries. The CST's orientation programs became more comprehensive as the 1950s progressed, evolving into a fundamental aspect of the organization's effort to create ambassadors to Western European countries. Thanks largely to the hugely popular orientation programs, the CST established itself as a recognized facilitator of international student travel, and its influence quickly grew despite losing access to military vessels. The outbreak of the Korean War prompted the State Department to take back the government's troop ships, forcing the CST to begin chartering vessels in 1951. Traffic to Europe exploded in the years to follow, involving more than 7,000 transAtlantic passages by the mid-1950s, when the CST oversaw the transport of 50,000 U.S. students and 45,000 foreign students annually.
The CST did not wait long before broadening its scope, taking the momentum built up by the popularity of the Student Ship Project to evolve into a more comprehensive facilitator of student travel. In 1952, one year after establishing an office in Paris, it sponsored its first conference on student travel, holding a forum for administrators, educators, and teachers that helped build a network of educational institutions. The conference became an annual event, giving the student travel community an opportunity to discuss policies and the future direction of sponsoring travel abroad. Significantly, conference attendees began looking into booking air transportation and encouraging travel to Africa, Asia, and South America by the mid-1950s. One of the most impressive accomplishments of the CST during the 1950s was an exchange between U.S. students and students living in the Soviet Union. The program, begun in 1958, testified to the influence and the tenacity of the CST and its membership, which totaled 70 organizations and institutions by the end of the decade.
From the CST to the CIEE
After firmly establishing itself as a nonprofit organization of note through its association with the Student Ship Project, the CST pressed ahead during the 1960s. The organization had to keep pace with the changing times and the changing needs of its members, a dynamic it responded to by engineering its own evolution. The decade witnessed the end of one era and the beginning of another: The CST began booking transportation programs by air in 1960 and the last student ship sailed in 1969. For an entity whose identity was drawn from its ten-day orientation programs, the switch from sea to air forced a sweeping change in focus. The CST moved away from its specialty in transportation and orientation programs and adopted a more academic approach during the mid-1960s. This profound shift in direction prompted a name change in 1967, when the Council on International Educational Exchange became the new name of the CST. Newly christened, the organization was set to serve the more demanding needs of its 162 primarily college and university members by the end of the decade.
Under the CIEE banner, the organization struggled to adapt to its new role. Primarily to blame were difficulties related to the flight program, including problems associated with landing rights and escalating fuel costs. Switching from sea to air led to a severe drain of the organization's financial resources, putting the CIEE on the brink of bankruptcy when one of its most influential leaders, Jack Egle, was appointed president and chief executive officer in 1979. Egle joined the organization in 1951, when the CST opened its Paris office. Egle was a doctoral candidate at the University of Paris at the time and he was hired to lend cohesion to the newly formed office, quickly proving to be an indispensable member of the team. Soon, he was appointed European director of the organization, a post he would hold until 1979, when he was selected to replace John Bowman, who had served as the CIEE's chief executive officer for 27 years. Bowman left an impressive legacy, having made the organization the principal association in the country for the promotion and the development of study abroad programs, but the end of his lengthy tenure left Egle with formidable challenges to overcome. Egle inherited profound financial problems, which he addressed by greatly reducing the organization's charter flight program and by turning to alternate flights on scheduled service. He also sought to lessen the load carried by the CIEE, first sparking the interest then soliciting the support of government, business, and finance groups. At the same time, he stressed the importance of developing cooperative arrangements, greatly expanding the use of consortia that would become a pillar supporting the CIEE as it progressed from the 20th century to the 21st century.
Egle registered rousing success in revamping the CIEE, giving the organization the operational stance that enabled it to fulfill its mission and to do so in an economically viable manner. The CIEE, relying heavily on the use of consortia, expanded its activities and programs in southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean during the 1980s. The highlights of Egle's era of management, which stretched to 1994, included the globalization of the organization's membership, the establishment of a database that tracked student travel, work, and study patterns, and the reorganization of the CIEE's transportation activities into a separate company. By the time Egle ended his 43-year-long career at the CIEE, the organization boasted approximately 250 members.
The CIEE in the New Millennium
As the CIEE closed out its first half-century of existence, the organization held sway as the largest, non-governmental, international education entity in the United States. The CIEE's activities, which spanned the globe after robust expansion during the 1980s and 1990s, were organized along four lines: international study programs, training opportunities, work and travel in the United States, and high school programs. The organization's international study programs offered 40 subject areas in 30 countries for college students. For faculty and administrators, the CIEE held international faculty development seminars, a program introduced in 1990 that offered lectures, site visits, and discussions. The CIEE's annual conference, begun in 1952, also was grouped within the organization's international study offerings, giving international educators an opportunity to share teaching methods and plot the future course of study abroad programs. Within its training category, the CIEE acted as the legal sponsor for the U.S. Department of State, offered internship programs for U.S. businesses, and developed programs for U.S. students and graduates to teach abroad. The CIEE also offered programs for foreign students, the purview of the organization's "Work & Travel USA" category. Seasonal work in the United States was offered for international students as well as programs to help U.S. employers hire international students. For high school age students, the CIEE offered study abroad programs for U.S. students and facilitated exchange programs involving host families in the United States and abroad.
Council on Student Travel.
International Studies Abroad; Center for International Studies; Institute for the International Education of Students.