Thanks to a gift from Ambassador Donald and Vera Blinken in 2011, the European Institute has been rededicated as the Donald and Vera Blinken European Institute. This generous gift marks an extraordinary step into the future for the Institute whose history dates to 1948. Founded with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, it was the first center in the U.S. to specialize in Europe as a region, its immediate purpose being to build expertise for the Marshall Plan, and otherwise strengthen the Atlantic partnership. During the Cold War, it focused more and more on Western Europe, while its partner Institute, dedicated to Russian studies and endowed by W. Averell Harriman in 1982, focused on the Soviet Bloc. Once the Cold War ended, the Institute turned to studying the region as a whole, focusing on both past divisions and new experiments to overcome them.
The BEI now dedicates itself to the future of European studies. This paradigm shift recognizes that the old Transatlantic relationship is over and that global changes have reconfigured Europe's relationship with other areas of the world; if we are to understand our commonalities, yet also our differences, we must work with fresh assumptions and strong local connections. Going forward, the BEI counts among its resources, in addition to Columbia's faculty with its collective knowledge of two scores of European languages, a new capacity to be truly on the ground in Europe by means of Columbia's growing constellation of global centers, first and foremost at the Global Centers|Europe in Paris.