The Center for Western European Studies was established at the University of Michigan in 1970 under the terms of a grant from the Ford Foundation. The plans for such a center had evolved, however, from the meetings of an informal group that included Professors John Bowditch and Raymond Grew from the Department of History, Sam Barnes and Roy Pierce from Political Science, and Robert Stern, Economics. The Dean named this group a Committee for Western European Studies with Professor Stern as its Chairman in 1968; Professor Grew became Chairman the following year. The Committee's subsequent involvement with the Ford Foundation led to Michigan's becoming a founding member of the Council for European Studies (established in 1969 as a consortium of the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Princeton University, the University of Wisconsin, and Yale University); Professor Grew served as co-Director of the Council in its first two years and subsequently on its Steering Committee, and Professors Barnes and Pierce of the Political Science Department, and Morris Bornstein of the Economics Department all served on the Steering Committee in the next few years, as the Council gradually expanded to become an open scholarly organization. The Center's Directors have included: Professors Raymond Grew, Department of History, 1970-71; John Bowditch, Department of History, 1971-72; Roy Pierce, Department of Political Science, 1972-75; and Acting Director Charles Tilly, Departments of History and Sociology, 1975-76. The Center was first given office space of its own in 1971.
In a report to Bernard A. Galler, Associate Dean for Long-Range Planning, Professor Charles Tilly summarized the orientation of the West European Center:
The Center has from the start concentrated on the encouragement of graduate work on Western European topics within established degree programs, and on the facilitation of communication and collaboration among scholars concerned with Western Europe.
Page Funds provided by the Ford Foundation Grant were used to these ends between 1970-76 in a variety of ways. Fellowship support was extended to 42 graduate students; an additional 35 students received modest grants for summer travel, research, and language training. This program for enabling graduate students to gain some experience in Europe early in their graduate training was an innovation subsequently adopted by the Council for European Studies, until its funds also ran out. Twelve faculty members received research grants from the Center which also helped to support visiting professors holding departmental appointments and brought more than 75 visiting lecturers to campus. Emphasizing graduate training, the Center established interdisciplinary seminars composed of faculty and graduate students, which focussed on a number of problems:
- 1969-71: "Response of Established Institutions to Social Change in Western Europe" Professor Barnes, Political Science, Coordinator.
- 1971-72: "European Urbanization and Rural to Urban Migration" Professor Tilly, History and Sociology, Coordinator.
- 1972-73: "Public Policy and Social Change in Western Europe" Professors Putnam and Hofferbert, Political Science, Coordinators.
- 1973-74: "Allocation of Resources for Social Purposes in Western Europe" Professors Barlow, Economics; Grew, History; and Pierce, Political Science, Coordinators.
- 1974-75: "Defense vs. Welfare in the Allocation of Resources in Western Europe" Professors Bright, History; Kelleher, Political Science; and MacLennan, Visiting Professor of Economics, Coordinators.
In addition, the Center negotiated with Sarah Lawrence College an arrangement whereby its summer programs in Florence, Italy; London, England; and Paris and LaCoste, France, could become the joint programs of the two institutions, with the Florence and London programs supervised by the Center.