1928 - The University of Chicago established the Committee on International Relations (CIR), the first of its kind in the United States. This grew out of a strong desire to study international phenomena. 

1950s - The University of Chicago established their “area studies centers” to understand international upheavals from the World Wars. The Centers for East Asian Studies, East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, Latin American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and the South Asia Language and Area Center.  

1966 - Led by geography professor Chauncy Harris, the Center for International Studies (CIS) launched to coordinate international activities across the university. CIS acted on behalf of and in conjunction with the university-wide community and departments, divisions, and professional schools to plan the development of international studies and promoting collaboration between the area studies centers. 

1975 - CIS absorbed the Adlai Stevenson Institute for International Affairs formed in 1968, and continued its objectives of bringing together international leaders, citizens, and academics through lectures and fellows. Following the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, the Center inaugurated an International Studies undergraduate BA (now the Global Studies Program) in response to new interests of scholars and students. In this new era of globalization, the center was of continued importance to the University. Globalizing economic forces that came with the end of the war prompted an intellectual shift toward increasingly interdisciplinary study of world history and events. CIS expanded its role as an umbrella for regional studies and included more broad-ranging and integrated areas of study. 

1997 - the Human Rights Program began as an initiative integrating the exploration of questions of human dignity with examination of the institutions designed to promote and protect human rights. The research and teaching examine human rights from a variety of disciplinary, thematic, and regional perspectives. The activities for this program are now housed in the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. CIS also created the interdisciplinary initiatives like the Transnationalism Project, the Globalization Project, the Joint Threat Anticipation, and the The Program on the Global Environment which explores and integrates perspectives on critical environmental issues from the sciences, social sciences, and policy communities.

2004 - CIS moved to the Division of Social Sciences but continued to act as an administrator of funds for programs or projects, sponsored seminars and training programs, provided services to programs in international studies, helped develop library resources, and sought support for student assistance. It continued and expanded its role of stimulating university interest in international and comparative studies. CIS has always worked to create contacts among scholars from all parts of the university and incubated dozens of innovative interdisciplinary and international curricular and scholarly initiatives, many of which have become stand-alone centers or programs.

2000s - CIS continued to sponsor a large roster of public events including the human rights film festival, lectures, conferences, and the World Beyond the Headlines lecture series at International House. Chicago’s International and Area Studies Multimedia Outreach Sources (CIASMOS) was the University’s and International Studies Multimedia Outreach Source, which provided podcasts of CIS-sponsored lectures. The Center also hosted the annual Norman Wait Harris Fund Competition to provide seed funding to University students and faculty to pursue scholarly workshops and conferences. 

2016 - CIS was renamed the Center for International Social Science Research and began a new mission of encouraging and supporting systematic research and analysis of major contemporary and historical topics in the international social sciences. 

2017 - CISSR created the Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph Field Research Awards, supporting graduate scholars in a range of disciplines completing rigorous international and transnational research projects. Lloyd Rudolph was a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Chicago and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph was a William Benton Distinguished Service Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago.