About International House

Diversity of Thought and Experience

The mission of International House is to enable students and scholars from around the world to live and learn together in a diverse residential community that builds lifelong qualities of leadership, respect, and friendship.

This mission is achieved by daily interaction among its residents through programs, facilities, and residential life designed to foster diversity of thought and experience.

A History of International Cultural Exchange

International House was conceived by the late YMCA official Harry Edmonds following a chance encounter with a lonely Chinese graduate student in 1909. The philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the Cleveland H. Dodge family led to the construction of the first International House in New York City in 1924.

Founded in 1932 by John D. Rockefeller Jr., International House of Chicago is today one of 17 members of the International Houses Worldwide network. For 87 years, the International House of Chicago experience of international cultural exchange in a diverse community has transformed the lives of more than 42,000 people.

Host to the World

In addition to supporting our residents, International House also serves the greater Chicago community as a cultural and intellectual center for a wide array of programs. Over 200 public programs are held each year at International House. These include music and cultural performances, outreach programs with Chicago-area international organizations, collaborations with foreign consulates, language exchanges and discussions, and forums and debates led by distinguished guest speakers through the Global Voices Performing Arts and Lecture Program.

The role and mission of International House are more compelling now than ever. An increasingly interdependent world has made global understanding an essential attribute for all our communities. International House, in its role as "Host to the World," makes an important contribution to the intellectual and cultural fabric of the Chicago region.

IHouse Participates in Welcome Blanket Project

The International House Community participated in the Welcome Blanket Project by knitting blankets to give to refugees. It was a joint effort, with knitted squares coming from students, alumni, staff, and friends of IHouse; and a total of five blankets were donated to the project. 

Visit International House’s Photographic Archive

The International House Photographic Archive documents the design, construction, and early life of the House. Explore these photos to learn about International House’s transformation throughout the years.

Explore the University of Chicago’s Global Programs

For more than a century, University of Chicago faculty and students have worked in other countries and in collaboration with scholars from around the world. Today, that reach extends further than ever with hundreds of programs, initiatives, and partnerships in over 31 nations and on every continent.