THE WORLD AFFAIRS COUNCIL OF AUSTIN: OUR ORIGINS AND OUR FUTURE
For almost a century, world affairs councils have spearheaded a nationwide non-partisan, non-profit grassroots movement to foster understanding and citizen engagement in international affairs and as well as involving interested citizens in an exchange of ideas, knowledge and understanding of global issues. Each year, half a million Americans directly benefit from world affairs councils’ programming and events.
Today, the World Affairs Council of America (WACA) has nearly 100 city and regional councils in 40 states.
Austin is fortunate to have a uniquely large global footprint for a community of its size (around 1.8 million in the metro area). Our tech sector is a known player in the global industry. The city’s annual South by Southwest interactive, music and film festivals have each become internationally-renowned events. We are home to the globally-recognized, tier one research institution, the University of Texas. As the capital of Texas, Austin represents a state that is America’s biggest exporter, accounting for 17% of all U.S. exports, and has a state economy larger than the nation economies of South Korea or Mexico. For all these reasons and more, Austin is home to an internationally savvy population with a strong interest in global affairs.
The World Affairs Council of Austin was created to serve Austinites of any age and background who are interesting in the world at large. Our mission is to provide them with top-quality programming and events and create conduits to interact with international experts and decision makers.
Where Did the World Affairs Council of America Come From?
The World Affairs Council of America has its origins in two different groups. First were the world affairs councils of individual cities, some dating from as early as the first part of the 20th century. The second group was the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), a think tank comprised of notable business, social and political leaders, including President Woodrow Wilson.
After World War I, the leaders of the FPA were concerned that, instead of embracing its role as a nascent world power, the U.S. would again return to an isolationist stance. The FPA began working with world affairs councils throughout America to inspire citizen curiosity about and involvement with international affairs.
In 1947, following the conclusion of World War II and America’s emergence as a superpower, the two groups actively joined together as a national organization comprised of independent councils representing various cities and localities.
In the next stage of its evolution, in1986 as the Cold War began to wind down and the U.S. encountered a new international landscape, the headquarters of the National Council of World Affairs Organizations (NCWAO) was established in Washington, DC. Over the next quarter century, the NCWAO evolved into today’s World Affairs Councils of America (WACA).
In 2013, the mission of World Affairs Councils is the same as it was in 1918, 1947 and 1986 to keep internationally-minded citizens informed about the crucial global matters of the day, America’s role in the world and the many benefits Americans enjoy because of our nation’s active role in global affairs.
We invite you to join us. To learn more about the World Affairs Council of Austin and membership opportunities, we invite you to explore our website (https://wacaustin.org/) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.