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SIT's 50th Anniversary

SIT's 50th Anniversary

Celebrating our Commitment to Experiential Learning and Social Justice

SIT 50th

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of SIT, founded in 1964 as the School for International Training.

On August 8–10, 2014, hundreds of SIT alumni, students, staff, and faculty convened on SIT’s Brattleboro, Vermont, campus, for a celebratory reunion weekend.

Smaller events also took place in other places throughout the year.

Read more about the August celebration and weekend reunion.

Senator Leahy congratulates SIT on its 50th anniversary.

The 1950s and 1960s

In 1957, the first Experiment in International Living–assisted overseas academic-credit program traveled to Italy under the sponsorship of Syracuse University. Other such partnerships followed in the ensuing decade, flying the pennants of Dartmouth, Temple, the State University of New York, Pomona College, Rhode Island School of Design, Lewis and Clark, and others.

In the early 1960s, Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps and an Experiment alumnus, called on The Experiment to conduct orientation and training for the earliest Peace Corps Volunteers. These orientation and training activities gradually led to the establishment of an academic institution, the School for International Training, in 1964. The institution was founded by The Experiment in International Living’s executive vice president, John “Jack” A. Wallace. Jack directed SIT from then until 1978, overseeing its growth into a degree-granting senior college and a graduate institute.

SIT’s master's degree in international administration was founded in 1967 as the International Career Training (ICT) program, which evolved into SIT’s MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management program.

The 1970s

In 1971, the School for International Training awarded its first master’s degree for the Program in Intercultural Management (PIM), which still comprises a large part of SIT Graduate Institute today. Meanwhile, other language-training programs for students from Africa and Latin America led to the founding of the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program.

In 1972, SIT’s World Issues Program (WIP) was born as a two-year undergraduate program for students who wished to prepare themselves for work in an international or intercultural career. The WIP program focused on topics including the environment, ecology, population, and peace studies. Like current SIT master’s degree programs, WIP combined on-campus study with an off-campus internship. Ahead of its time, the WIP program was discontinued in 1999. Today, alumni of the WIP program continue to work to help create a more peaceful and just world.

In 1978, the new Summer Institute for Language Teachers program paved the way for a popular Summer MAT (MA in TESOL) option. This program enabled working teachers to pursue the Master of Arts in TESOL degree over two years. In 2013, this program was reconceived as the low-residency Master of Arts in TESOL program.

The 1980s

In 1983, the SIT library — serving growing numbers of students and faculty — was officially named for Experiment Founder Donald B. Watt. Thought to be tongue-in-cheek since Watt was such a proponent of experiential learning as opposed to more traditional book learning, the books were all stamped with his name in them.

In 1989, with partial funding through a partnership with Procter & Gamble Far East (whose trainees lived and studied in the building), a new building was constructed on campus and christened as the International Center.  The center provided students with a new cafeteria, classrooms, dorm rooms, and conference space, as well as a magnificent view of the fields and valley below. In 2007, it was renamed to honor Stephen and Nita Lowey, generous supporters of SIT and World Learning.

The 1990s to the Present Day

In 1995, the Carriage House — the previous location for the dining hall, offices for Student Affairs, the bookstore, and La Tienda, where students could buy snacks and supplies — was renovated and expanded. Renamed the Rotch Center for longtime board chair William Rotch, it includes classrooms, office space, and the new home for the library.

SIT alumna Jody Williams, founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

In 1998, SIT hosted its first Northern Irish Peacebuilding Youth Camp after the British and Irish governments signed a historic agreement ending sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Today Jack Wallace’s vision lives on at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro and Washington, DC, and in more than 30 countries worldwide with SIT Study Abroad. SIT Graduate Institute continues to offer programs in TESOL as well as sustainable development, international education, and peacebuilding and conflict transformation, while SIT Study Abroad offers undergraduates field-based, experiential education programs that focus on critical global issues.

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© SIT Graduate Institute 2014

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