Our History

Photo of Helmut Kohl and Chancellor Tien

From left: German Chancellor Helmut Kohl delivers campus convocation at the Greek Theater, September 1991 (photo credit: Peg Skorpinski); UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien awards Kohl the Berkeley Medal


The roots of the Institute of European Studies can be traced back to 1990, when the government of the Federal Republic of Germany chose the University of California as one of the original three "Centers of Excellence" in the United States, along with Harvard and Georgetown, with the mission to enhance America's understanding of contemporary developments in Europe, and particularly in Germany.

UC Berkeley became the site of the "University of California Center for German and European Studies" (CGES), inaugurated in the presence of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The establishment of CGES was accompanied by a generous ten-year grant from the German government, with the contractual agreement that the Center would later continue in its structure and mission with the support of the University.

Gerald Feldman, Beverly Crawford and Richard Buxbaum

From left: Former IES Director Gerald D. Feldman with Beverly Crawford; Former director Richard Buxbaum


Ten years after the establishment of CGES, the University unified the staff, resources, and programs of the Center for German and European Studies and the Center for Western European Studies (CWES). This merger led to the creation of today's Institute of European Studies (IES).


In 2009, IES, in cooperation with the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies(link is external), established a European Union Center, today's Jean Monnet Center of Excellence.

Inaugural EU Center conference and GHI Launch

From left: Inaugural undergraduate conference on the European Union; Launching the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute


In 2017, the German Historical Institute opened its Pacific Regional Office(link is external) at IES.


IES joined Global, International & Area Studies (GIAS)(link is external), the leading research and outreach hub for international and area studies on the UC Berkeley campus.

Barroso Visit and IES Students

From left: José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission and Prime Minister of Portugal, visits the Berkeley campus; Students celebrate the Institute's 30th anniversary


IES 30th Anniversary