Sample Banner Graphic

It fell to my lot to orient our foreign policy during the period of bewilderingly rapid changes wherein one kind of world was ushered out and another kind ushered in.
I.K. Gujral

• • •

Foreign policy will require a strategic agility that, whenever possible, gets ahead of problems, strengthens US security and alliances, and promotes American interests and credibility.
Chuck Hagel


Borrowing from a strategy of the Foreign Policy Association to attract regular citizens to discussions of global events and their local impact, community members from the Peoria area and beyond created an organization that has flourished for more than 50 years. A group of community-minded Central Illinoisans decided to offer educational opportunities to engage with this brave new world.

The first annual Central Illinois World Affairs Conference in Peoria, “China in Perspective,” was held at the Hotel Pere Marquette. This inaugural event featured U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits of New York, and Dr. John K. Fairbank, director of the East Asia Research Center, and professor of history at Harvard University.

The Peoria Area World Affairs Council held an annual conference between 1970 and 2015. Beginning in 2001, the organization began to expand its programming to monthly events. Since then, the organization has hosted dozens of speakers and events annually. The expanded programs include events targeted at high school students, such as the International Scholastic Bowl and Summer Institute, and partnerships with the Culinary Institute at ICC and a documentary series at the Peoria Riverfront museum.

PAWAC’s original slogan was "Education in World Affairs: Progress through Knowledge." With increased and diverse programming, PAWAC continues to offer informative, educational experiences. Our new tagline, “Bring the World to Central Illinois,” emphasizes our interest in hosting ambassadors, diplomats, academics, and a wide-ranging group of foreign policy experts to enhance international literacy through non-partisan, informative programs.

“It (PAWAC) has succeeded over the years because the community recognized the importance of international literacy at all levels and in all quarters -- from high schools to international corporations,” says one of PAWAC founders, Dr. J. Terry Iversen, former Director of the Office of Continuing Education in International Affairs at UIUC.

Founders Circle

PAWAC recognizes our early founders: Ruth and Zealy Holmes, J. Terry Iversen Alfred Katz, Inge Mathews, Jerome Metzger, Dennis Mcinerny, Lyle and Louise Reeser, Elmo Roach, Janet Roth, Richard Sanders, Pola Triandis, and Genevieve Watson. In addition, Shirlee Harper, Dick Sanders, John Howard, Sally Whelan, and Tim Elder were also involved in the early years. There are many others whose efforts continue to move the organization forward to meet our mission.

For more information, please contact the Executive Director at