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New virtual platform chronicles milestones and noteworthy moments of Northwestern’s global history

New virtual platform chronicles milestones and noteworthy moments of Northwestern’s global history



A Brazilian-born student was among Northwestern's first graduating class in 1859.


Exactly 100 years ago in 1921, two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, received an honorary degree from Northwestern.

This week, the Office of the Vice President for International Relations launched a new online tool highlighting Northwestern’s rich global history, from the time of its founding to the present day.

Many of the events listed mark important global milestones; others showcase unique, memorable, and proud moments in Northwestern’s 170-year history. All of them tell Northwestern’s global story, from early global engagement opportunities and an increasingly international student and faculty body, to the interdisciplinary study abroad programs and innovative global collaborations that Northwestern is known for today.

Filters allow the user to explore over 200 entries by era — the early years (1851-1950), mid and late century (1951-2000), and contemporary years (2001- today) — and by category: academics, achievements, alumni, collaborations, events, faculty and staff, and students.

“We hope capturing Northwestern’s international history will inspire the Northwestern community to continue our global journey and further build on the university’s proud tradition of global engagement and leadership,” says Dévora Grynspan, Vice President for International Relations.

Over 30 units across the University contributed to the timeline, including a number of schools and academic departments, University Archives, the Office of Fellowships, the Program of African Studies, the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, and Alumni Relations and Development.

“Researching and constructing the timeline was a massive undertaking, and we couldn’t have been able to do it without our colleagues’ extensive support” says Janka Pieper, Director of Communications at the Office of the Vice President for International Relations, who led the project, which took almost 18 months to complete.

“The pandemic and the resulting campus and building closures slowed us down a bit,” says Pieper, “but the vast number of digitized files and the many interviews with current and emeriti staff and faculty helped fill the void of not being able to look through boxes of old files.”

As the timeline is meant to be a living document, the Northwestern community is invited to contribute by submitting an event through an online form or by emailing Janka Pieper.

Explore Northwestern's Global History