The Institute for Policy Studies is celebrating its 50th year in 2013. For 50 years, we’ve been turning ideas into action to support peace, justice, and the environment. From the antiwar and civil rights movements in the 1960s to the peace and global justice movements of the last decade. Some of the greatest progressive minds of the 20th and 21st centuries have found a home at IPS, starting with the organization’s founders, Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin. IPS scholars have included such luminaries as Arthur Waskow, Gar Alperovitz, Saul Landau, Bob Moses, Rita Mae Brown, Barbara Ehrenreich, Roger Wilkins and Orlando Letelier.
This timeline represents a small sampling of the bright spots throughout the years.
Highlights Over the Past 50 Years
1961 – At the height of the Cold War, a high-powered State Department meeting full of generals and defense industry executives. When one official declared, “If this group cannot bring about disarmament, then no one can,” two young men in the audience couldn’t help but snicker. The culprits, White House staffer Marcus Raskin and State Department lawyer Richard Barnet, looked across the room and decided to get to know each other. Raskin and Barnet would go on to become the co-founders of the Institute for Policy Studies. (Note that we realize that this happened over 50 years ago, but it seems notable nonetheless.)
1963 – The Institute for Policy Studies was founded with offices in Washington DC.
1964 – Freedom Summer, a central campaign to the civil rights movement, was directed by IPS Fellow Bob Moses. The campaign helped scores of black Americans register to vote and set up dozens of Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses, and community centers in small towns throughout Mississippi. The project became nationally known when three Freedom Summer volunteers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, went missing and then were found dead, having been killed by Ku Klux Klan members.
1965 – Co-founder Marcus Raskin and IPS Associate Fellow Bernard Fall edited The Vietnam Reader, which became a textbook for teach-ins across the country.
mid-1960s – IPS Fellow Bob Moses organized efforts for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), challenging racial segregation and the disenfranchisement of people of color throughout the country.
1966 – Fellow Charlotte Bunch organized a groundbreaking women’s liberation conference. She later launched two influential feminist periodicals, Quest and Off Our Backs.
1967 – Co-founder Marcus Raskin and IPS Fellow Arthur Waskow penned “A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority,” a document signed by dozens of well-known scholars and religious leaders that helped launch the draft resistance movement.
1973 – Rita May Brown publishes her path-breaking lesbian novel Rubyfruit Jungle, widely considered the first of the emerging genre of lesbian coming-of-age novels, while on staff at IPS.
1974 – Co-founder Richard Barnet publishes Global Reach, an examination of the power of multinational corporations which is still required reading in many college courses today.
1974 – IPS founded the Transnational Institute, a worldwide fellowship of scholar activists, as its international program. The international organization now operates as a sister organization to IPS. For more than 30 years, TNI’s history has been entwined with the history of global social movements and their struggle for economic, social and environmental justice.
mid-1970s – IPS Fellow Jim Ridgeway, now a renowned investigative reporter, published The Elements, a monthly IPS newsletter on ownership and control of the world’s natural resources.
1976 – Agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet murdered two IPS colleagues on Washington’s Embassy Row. The target of the car bomb attack was Orlando Letelier, one of Pinochet’s most outspoken critics and the head of IPS’s sister organization, the Transnational Institute. Ronni Karpen Moffitt, a 25-year-old IPS development associate, was also killed. For more than three decades, IPS’s annual Letelier-Moffitt awards program has recognized new human rights heroes. IPS has also worked with lawyers, Congressional allies, researchers, and activists and through the media to achieve measures of justice: the convictions of two generals and several assassins responsible for the Letelier-Moffitt murders, the declassification of U.S. documents on Chile, Pinochet’s 1998 arrest in connection with a Spanish case brought by former IPS Visiting Fellow Joan Garces, and the indictment of Pinochet by Chilean Judge Juan Guzman, a Letelier-Moffitt human rights awardee.
1977 – The institute launched a South Africa project that went on to produce a series of books and studies on South African apartheid.
1979 – IPS Senior Fellow Saul Landau won an Emmy for his documentary, “Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang.” The documentary tells the story of the cover-up by the U.S. nuclear program and of the hazards of radiation to American citizens.
Early 1980s – Barbara Ehrenreich, the now-renowned author of Nickel and Dimed, led the institute’s Women and the Economy project.
1985 – IPS Fellow Roger Wilkins helped found the Free South Africa Movement, which organized a year-long series of demonstrations that led to the imposition of U.S. sanctions.
1985 – Fellow William Arkin published Nuclear Battlefields: Global Links in the Arms Race, which helped galvanize anti-nuclear activism through its revelations of the impact of nuclear infrastructure on communities across America.
1989 – Amnesty International adopted women’s issues as human rights issues following a speech by former IPS Fellow Charlotte Bunch.
1991 – The pamphlet Crisis in the Gulf was produced by the institute, a text that was widely used by the peace movement during the first military foray into Iraq.
1991 – IPS Fellow Daphne Wysham helped bring to light a private memo by Larry Summers, Chief Economist at the World Bank, in which Summers declared, “the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that… I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted.”
1993 – The leadership of former IPS Fellow Charlotte Bunch was crucial to the adoption by the 1993 United Nations Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, of strong support for women.
1993 – Sarah Anderson, now director of the Global Economy project at IPS, conceives of and publishes a report on CEO pay that would compare the pay of corporate executives to everyday employees on the shop room floor. This became her first of a series of annual reports on executive pay that has informed and transformed the debate on inequality.
1994 – The institute publishes Global Dreams by current IPS Director John Cavanagh and co-founder Richard Barnet. The book was a follow-up to the groundbreaking work Global Reach. Both books are still required reading in many college classes today.
1998 – Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in connection with a Spanish case brought by former IPS Visiting Fellow Joan Garces, and the indictment of Pinochet by Chilean Judge Juan Guzman, a Letelier-Moffitt human rights awardee.
2003 – The institute convened the meeting that led to the formation of the country’s largest coalition against the war in Iraq, United for Peace and Justice.
2005 – IPS publishes its Field Guide to the Global Economy, revised edition, by IPS Director John Cavanagh, IPS Global Economy Project Director Sarah Anderson, and others. It helps to make sense of the rapidly changing international economy, explaining how global institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and North American Free Trade Agreement affect communities, workers, the poor, and the environment. The book dispels the widely disseminated propaganda about current globalization policies and provides an update on the burgeoning movement that is challenging them. The guide has become required reading in many college classes.
2011 – The institute releases its 18th annual Executive Excess report, showing that 25 CEOs of major corporations received more in compensation than their companies paid in federal income taxes, offering an important contribution to efforts to ensure that wealthy Americans pay their fair share to Uncle Sam. The report was coordinated by Sarah Anderson, director of IPS’s Global Economy project, who has pulled together IPS reports on executive pay since 1993.
2011 and 2012 – In a personal capacity, IPS staff and scholars participated enthusiastically in the Occupy movement, including: sleeping at encampments; helping new occupiers navigate the consensus process; providing meeting spaces for Occupy DC participants; and marching in the streets. In a professional capacity, IPS scholars drafted hard-hitting analysis on inequality and corporate power that gave the movement fuel — before, during, and after Occupy’s moment in history.
2013 – We’ll never stop working to turn ideas into action!