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Event Detail

Philanthropy as Diplomacy: the Private Funding of State Affairs
Date: March 11, 2013 from 6:00 pm to 7:45 pm EDT
Location: Columbia University
Morningside Campus
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact Lily Glenn by sending email to .


  • Michael Hess, President, M&TCH Consulting and former Assistant Administrator, USAID
  • Aryeh Neier, President Emeritus, Open Society Institute
  • James Allen Smith, Vice President and Director of Research and Education, Rockefeller Archive Center
  • Olivier Zunz, Commonwealth Professor of History, University of Virginia

Philanthropy has been defined as “private initiatives for public good,” as distinct from government or “public initiatives for public good.” As private initiatives became increasingly institutionalized during the twentieth century with the Rothschild, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundations, both “private” and “public” institutions strove to support or change international approaches to governance, healthcare, and human rights. While some historians claim that the partnership between philanthropic organizations and government largely failed in the 1920s, others argue that powerful alliances predate World War I and continue to shape diplomacy at present. This panel will explore “the private funding of affairs of state,” as a dialogue which includes foundations and government, but also extends to individuals, entrepreneurs, corporations, and the military.