Speaker Spotlight: Julia Irwin by Shihan Zheng

On April 6, 2018, historian Julia Irwin will speak at the History Department as part of its Foreign Policy Seminar Series. 

Dr. Julia Irwin earned her PhD degree from Yale University; she is now an associate professor in the University of South Florida. Receiving the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award of USF in 2015, Irwin teaches classes focused on the history of the United States and its foreign relations. Her research centers on the place of humanitarianism, health, and welfare in 20th century U.S. foreign relations. Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening is Irwin’s first book and was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. Making the World Safe tells the story of U.S. relief and assistance for foreign civilians in the era of the First World War, and focuses on both the diplomatic and the cultural significance of humanitarian aid in these years. Based on the records of the American Red Cross and key personnel, Irwin’s research “examines the lives of a cosmopolitan cadre of American civic leaders, philanthropists, and medical and social scientific professionals—individuals who embraced foreign assistance as a new way to participate in the international community” (p. 2) However, Making the World Safe not only focuses on ARC leaders and staff, but also examines the American public in the importance of foreign aid to American foreign relations. Besides the monograph, Irwin also published many articles that examine American humanitarianism, health, and social welfare as a window into both U.S. domestic and international histories. Some of the topics that she wrote about are child health, nursing, and ethnic tensions. Currently, Irwin is writing her second monograph, Catastrophic Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Responses to Global Natural Disaster. Her current research is to examine how the United States government, American charities and relief organizations, and the U.S. public have responded to disasters caused by overseas tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and other so-called “Acts of God” since the late 19th century.

In addition to researching and teaching achievements, Irwin also participates in several professional programs. She is currently council member for the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and member for the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize Committee. She is also the membership secretary of Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.