TISS History – Summary

In 1958, a common interest in issues of International Security led professors at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to form the D-UNC International Security Seminar. D-UNC was an informal venture that aimed to connect faculty and graduate students across the two universities and encouraged them to exchange ideas and collaborate together, when possible, in research projects. Members met informally to present a chapter of a book, a paper, or sometimes just for discussion. There was little fanfare, no dinners or drinks, and members met only six or eight times a year.

In the mid seventies, D-UNC members sought to expand the seminar’s reach and applied for grants to fund postdoctoral students and research. These funds, including a generous grant from the Ford foundation in 1978, allowed D-UNC to engage in community outreach, and build a vibrant series of programs. Members now met for lectures, dinner-meetings, and conferences. The annual conference at the beautiful Quail Roost Center became a favorite D-UNC event. TUSS programs brought distinguished scholars and policy makers to our area and helped keep students and faculty in touch with the most current work and activity in the field.

In 1984 North Carolina State joined the organization and D-UNC became TUSS – The Triangle Universities Security Seminar. That same year saw the inauguration of the TUSS newsletter and the addition of official post-doctoral fellows. Until 2000, these fellows took charge of the day-to-day workings of TUSS, writing the newsletter and helping to organize conferences and meetings. During the nineties TUSS funded two large research projects: “The Study of War” (initiated in 1994) and “The Project on the Gap between Military and Civilian Relations” (1997). The former produced an on-going series of conferences and papers while the latter resulted in a book, Soldiers and Civilians (ed. Richard Kohn and Peter Feaver).

As TUSS continued to grow in scope and size and gained national recognition, the Executive Committee realized that the organization would soon outgrow its name. In 1995, TUSS became The Triangle Institute for Security Studies. TISS grew again in 1997 when the executive committee voted to include a representative from the North Carolina Consortium for International and Intercultural Education on its Board.

The turn of the millennium brought further changes to TISS. The offices of the organization, until now located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, moved to Duke University, first to the Franklin Center, and then, in 2005, to Rubenstein Hall. The day-to-day running of TISS programs and outreach activities was entrusted  first to a Coordinator and now an Associate Director. Although TISS ceased to support post-doctoral fellows at this time, it devoted considerable attention on providing programs that would serve local undergraduate and graduate students. An annual conference for graduate students in security studies was started in 2000 and undergraduates were encouraged to join the organization as Wickersham and Millennium Fellows (now referred to collectively as the Wickersham Scholars).

Two new primarily undergraduate programs have added considerably to the vitality of TISS. The first, the Program in American Grand Strategy at Duke, has grown very rapidly and is now run by a staff person dedicated to running events held on the Duke campus and organizing experiential learning for Duke students.  The TISS Director is also the Director of AGS.  The second, the Energy and Security Initiative at North Carolina State University plays to the strengths of NCSU in science and technology. Peace, War, and Defense, at UNC-Chapel Hill grows from strength to strength. Although events and other activities organized as part of these programs are designed with AGS, PWAD, and NCSU students particularly in mind,  they tend to be open to other members of our community.

We have also strengthened our ties to the military, partly by an increasingly close partnership with NDU Fort Bragg, and in part through our participation in the Senior Service Fellowship Program.

We fully expect to continue to evolve and grow over the next day, and welcome your participation in this process.