The Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies supports the study of critical issues in world affairs at Claremont McKenna College, sponsoring lecture series, fellowships, visiting scholars, research associates, conferences, publication of research monographs, and student internships. It also has a small library with special emphasis on international strategic studies and Asian and Pacific developments. Founded in 1980 with a generous grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles, the Keck Center opened in 1983 with a focus of teaching and researching international politics, international economics, defense and military affairs, and area studies. P. Edward Haley, professor of government, was selected as the first director. With the founding of this newest center, CMC positioned itself to enter the arena of global affairs.
In 1989, Chae-Jin Lee, BankAmerica Professor of Pacific Basin Studies, succeeded Professor Haley as director. Fluent in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, French, and English, Professor Lee focused the strategic mission of the Center on Asian Pacific studies.
In recent years the Center has sponsored scholarly conferences on the United Nations, U.S.-European relations, Russia, U.S.-Japan relations, Germany After Unification, the Korean War, and the Chinese state and society. It also has sponsored lecture series on "The Future of Communism in Europe and Asia," "The United States and Europe," "The Changing Power Relationships in the Global Economy," "The United States and the Pacific Rim," and "Desert Storm-Desert Peace?," "The Problem of Nuclear Proliferation," and "Ethnic Conflict in the Modern World."
The focus on Asian studies continues with the former director, Minxin Pei, the Tom and Margot Pritzker '72 Professor of Government and Roberts Fellow. Professor Pei is a specialist on China and U.S.-China relations. Under his guidance, the Center has actively promoted research into issues arising from the rapidly changing world order. The Center offers five student fellowships in international strategic studies and Asian studies and has selected students to attend the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference, the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA), the Model United Nations, and other important academic and extra-curricular meetings.
In 2019, Hilary Appel, a Podlich Family Professor of Government, and George R. Roberts Fellow, is the first female director of the Keck Center for International & Strategic Studies. Her area of expertise is Political Economy, Post-communist transitions, Russian Politics, West and East European Politics. Professor Appel has published numerous books and articles on the politics of economic reform in Russia and Eastern Europe in leading scholarly journals like World Politics, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Review of International Political Economy, Post-Soviet Affairs, East European Politics and Societies, and others.
Professor Appel's recent book, co-authored with Mitchell A. Orenstein, is entitled From Triumph to Crisis: Neoliberal Economic Reform in Post-Communist Countries (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She has been awarded national fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, and the Institute for the Study of World Politics.