Anglo-American Studies Program to launch at IGS

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December 13, 2012

The special relationship between Great Britain and the United States will be seriously explored in a just-announced Anglo-American Studies Program at the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS), thanks to a $1 million gift from the Anglo California Foundation. 

The program will launch officially in spring 2013 and it will offer an R. Kirk Underhill Graduate Fellowship, initiated by a $500,000 gift from the Underhill Trust. In addition, the program will support faculty and graduate student research, conduct scholarly conferences, and feature an annual R. Kirk Underhill lecture at UC Berkeley by a leading figure from political or scholarly circles in the United Kingdom. 

Mr. Charles G. Stephenson and Mr. Brad Barber, both campus graduates and trustees of the Underhill Trust, were instrumental in directing this new gift to Berkeley. 

"This gift provides a wonderful opportunity to build on the enormous strength of Berkeley’s scholarship about Britain and its influence on the United States in so many domains,” said Jack Citrin, IGS Director.  “To deepen this engagement in multiple disciplines and to involve British scholars in this enterprise on an ongoing basis is something IGS embraces as a project that will benefit faculty and students in an enduring way,” Citrin said. 

The Underhill Trust in 2003 established the Center for British Studies at UC Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies to promote the study of British culture, society and history.  The new Anglo-American Studies Program is designed to expand on that with comparative and interdisciplinary studies of shared issues such as immigration, welfare, central government fiscal policy, financial regulation, science policy, constitutional law, party systems, foreign policy cooperation, changing conceptions of nationhood in the political domain, in addition to broader studies of reciprocal cultural influences.   

Robert Kirk Underhill graduated from UC Berkeley in 1928 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He was a lifelong Anglophile who founded the Robert Kirk clothing store that specialized in British goods. He also was chairman emeritus of the English Speaking Union in San Francisco, a commander of the British Empire, and a Knight in the Order of St. John, a major international charity. Underhill also started "London Weeks" in San Francisco, a series of trade shows and festivals highlighting the British way of life. 

In the past, IGS has sponsored such programs as the Anglo-American Dialogues and an annual UK Seminar to examine developments in British government and society. The late UC Berkeley political scientist Nelson Polsby is credited with giving British Studies a big push on campus by organizing two conferences that produced books about the British government, and by building strong ties with UK scholars.