Mission & History

The Southern California Consortium on International Studies (SOCCIS) is a voluntary association of public and private colleges and universities established in 1972 for the purpose of coordinating and sharing resources to further international studies in the southern California region. Through the various activities it sponsors, SOCCIS strengthens the institutional commitment to international and foreign area studies; it promotes and strengthens the network of faculty in the region; it encourages institutional and faculty commitment to an "internationalized" curriculum and provides means of enhancing faculty teaching capabilities in international and foreign area studies through seminars, workshops, and summer institutes, many of which are open to the general public; and it strives to ensure that the institutions of higher learning in this region offer curriculum that enable their students to gain an understanding of the lives and aspirations of the people of other countries near and far, an appreciation for cultures different from their own, and an attitude conducive toward international cooperation to solve the many human and ecological problems that cannot be remedied by one country acting alone. In keeping with these goals, SOCCIS also supports statewide and national efforts to strengthen international and foreign area studies and to improve the level of public awareness and understanding of other peoples and cultures and international events.

As a southern California-based organization, SOCCIS seeks to serve the needs of a rapidly growing cosmopolitan region. The sensitivity of SOCCIS to the need for supporting and enhancing international and foreign area studies in this region reflects in part the striking demographic changes taking place in the state which make new demands on its institutions of higher education. In recent years, Los Angeles has taken over the role played by New York at the turn of the century: it has become the port of entry for most immigrants to the United States. It's rich ethnic diversity -- encompassing the largest concentration of persons of Mexican ancestry of any city in the world except for Mexico City, long established Chinese and Japanese communities, the largest group of Koreans outside of Korea and the largest community of Armenians in America, to cite just a few of the groups that stem from abroad -- serves to instill an awareness of a shrinking and interdependent world and to make many "international" issues matters of local concern. A major gateway to the Pacific for purposes of trade as well as immigration, southern California has benefited from the fact that the world is shifting to a Pacific-based economy. In recent years, US trade with East Asian and Pacific nations have exceeded that with any other region, including all of Europe. These trends give Southern California an exciting international flavor and increase the motivation behind programs to infuse the curriculum with international content and promote international studies and foreign languages.

SOCCIS has successfully weathered several years of budgetary stringency in higher education, underscoring the fact that member institutions value the benefits derived from participation in the consortium. Membership currently stands at nineteen institutions and representatives from each member institution sit on a Steering Committee; this group discusses major issues relating to international studies in the region, including ways to collaborate and share resources. The Committee also considers federal, state and private sector support of international studies and initiatives affecting international and foreign area studies nationally and locally.

One of the primary purposes of SOCCIS is to encourage inter-institutional sharing of resources in international and foreign area studies. Through its standing committees, SOCCIS has the mechanisms to facilitate such sharing in a number of foreign area fields. SOCCIS has also contributed to the internationalization of the curriculum and the development of instructors through co-sponsorship of the annual International Studies Summer Institute for precollegiate and community college educators. We place a high value on the SOCCIS Standing Committees, the network of area studies scholars, and the activities that are sponsored. SOCCIS activities, such as colloquia and seminars, are also open to the public and offer forums for meaningful interaction between the institutions and the communities they serve.

SOCCIS has cooperated with federally funded Title VI National Resource Centers, including the USC-UCLA Joint Center in East Asian Studies, the James S. Coleman African Studies Center, the Latin American Center, the Gustave E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, the Center for European and Russian Studies, and the Center for International Relations. The consortium has also benefited from cooperation with the UCLA Center for Korean Studies and the Center for Chinese Studies. In the future, SOCCIS will continue to foster collaboration with these centers and others, as well as support cooperative efforts among the institutions associated with the consortium.