Julia Irwin

Associate Professor and Associate Chair

CONTACT information and cv

Office: SOC 264
Phone: 813.974.2807
Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., Yale University, 2009


My classes focus on the history of the United States and its relations—political, economic, military, and cultural—with the wider world, as well as on 20th century international history more broadly. I offer several undergraduate lecture courses on these topics, including “Global History and Politics since 1945” (IDS 2192), “U.S. Foreign Relations” (AMH 3512), and “Globalization and U.S. Culture” (AMH 3342). I also teach undergraduate and graduate seminars on “The U.S. in an Age of Empire, 1877-1945,” "The U.S. and the Global Cold War, 1945-2001," and “Science, Medicine, and Empire.” In the classroom, I encourage students to think about how both state and non-state actors have played a part in U.S. foreign affairs throughout history, and to see how American social, cultural, economic, and political ideas and institutions have spread throughout the world. At the same time, I urge students to think about how people, ideas, and events from outside the United States shaped the course of U.S. domestic history in fundamental ways. I also teach students about important trends in contemporary international history, including imperialism, the Cold War, decolonization, global development, and war, disasters, and other humanitarian crises.

In addition to these subjects, I am keenly interested in the history and politics of food, which I teach about in the undergraduate lecture course “American Food and Drink” (AMH 3341). I also regularly teach the undergraduate course “The Theory and Methods of History” (HIS 4104). In this class, we discuss the meaning of history and the methods and practices that historians use in our work.


My research focuses on the place of humanitarianism and foreign assistance in 20th century U.S. foreign relations and international history. My first book, Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening, was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. A history of U.S. relief efforts for foreign civilians in the era of the First World War, my book analyzes both the diplomatic and the cultural significance of humanitarian aid in these years.

Currently, I am writing my second monograph, Catastrophic Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Responses to Global Natural Disaster. This book traces how the U.S. government, branches of the U.S. military, American charities and relief organizations, and the U.S. public responded to sudden catastrophes in other countries during the 20th century, with a focus on disasters caused by tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and other natural hazards. In addition to narrating the history of these humanitarian relief efforts, my book analyzes the politics and diplomacy of U.S. foreign disaster aid, critically examining emergency humanitarian relief as an instrument of 20th century U.S. foreign policy.

In addition to my books, I have published more than a dozen articles on the histories of 20th century U.S. and international humanitarianism and foreign assistance, focusing particularly on civilian aid during the First World War era and on global disaster assistance in the 20th century. Citations for these pieces are listed in my C.V.