The American public is losing trust in its higher education institutions. Americans are increasingly divided about the purposes of a college education, with opinions split along partisan lines. The country’s higher education leaders have responded with a litany of conferences, op-eds, and commissions aimed at regaining the public trust. While these efforts are necessary and important, they are more likely to be successful if supplemented with a view from abroad. The independent American university abroad is the oldest and most successful expression of U.S. higher education outside the United States. First established by Protestant missionaries in the Ottoman Empire during the U.S. Civil War, American universities abroad have since spread across the globe. Many enjoy widespread popularity in their communities and bipartisan support in the U.S.
The Emergence of the American University Abroad explores the development of this model as a distinctive institutional form in the U.S. higher education landscape. It traces the long history of support by American private citizens, the U.S. government, and stateside colleges and universities for these overseas institutions, and shows how leaders of American universities abroad have periodically come together to make sense of their changing environments and strategically align their messaging with potential supporters.
The author demonstrates that what is most valuable about American higher education emerges clearly when it is practiced outside the United States. While discourse about higher education in the United States and around the world has shifted unequivocally toward its conceptualization as a private good, leaders of, and advocates for, American universities abroad have been remarkably consistent in promoting their public benefits. As such, study of these institutions represents a unique opportunity to reflect on underappreciated, yet essential features of American higher education.
American Universities Abroad in 2019 by Year of Establishment
Kyle A. Long, Ph.D. (2018), Columbia University, is Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Education and UNESCO Co-Chair, International Education for Development at the George Washington University. His writing on independent American universities abroad has appeared in
International Higher Education and
Inside Higher Ed.
List of Figures and Tables
1 Greater American Higher Education
1 Book Structure
2 Terms and Definitions
3 Situating American Universities abroad in the Literature
4 Theoretical Considerations for the Study of Institutions and Culture
5 Overview of Sources
6 Aims and Purposes
2 The Origins of American Colleges Overseas, 1860–1914
4 Student Enrollment and Demographics
5 Public Reception
6 Collective Action
3 An Era of Cooperation, 1915–1944
2 The "Situation" of the American Colleges in the Near East
3 Messaging and Public Reception
4 Postwar Transformations, 1945–1989
2 The Decline of American Colleges in the Near East
3 The Rise of American Colleges in Europe
4 An Attempt to Consolidate the Fields
5 The Slow Death of a Great Liberal Institution in the Arab World
5 The Globalization of the American University Abroad, 1990–2019
2 Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia
3 The Middle East and North Africa
4 Regional Comparison
6 The Defense of the American University Abroad, 1990–2019
2 Defining What It Means to Be an "American" University
3 An AAICU Identity Crisis
7 Conclusion: The American University abroad as an American Institution
1 Implications for Scholarship
2 The Future of American Universities Abroad
3 Limitations and Directions for Future Research
4 Final Thoughts
Appendix A: American Universities abroad in 2019 by Year of Establishment
All interested in the history of American higher education and U.S. foreign relations, as well as those who study globalization and the internationalization of higher education.