In order to provide an international structure for the humane and scientific study of Third World peoples, problems and issues, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life, Dr. Harold Isaacs, Professor Emeritus of History at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia, founded the Association of Third World Studies (ATWS), Inc., in 1983.
ATWS is now the largest professional organization of its kind in the world, with a global membership and chapters in South Asia and Africa. Members include academics, practitioners in the area of Third World development, employees of government agencies, and diplomats who reside in 45 states plus the District of Columbia in the U.S., and in 21 other countries around the globe (especially Kenya, Nigeria, and India).
Since 1983 the Association has held 28 annual international conferences, published 55 issues of its main publication, Journal of Third World Studies (JTWS), as well as ATWS Newsletter. ATWS became an institution in 1991 when elected officials assumed responsibility for the management of the organization. In 1992 Georgia Southern University became Executive Headquarters, administered by an Executive Director selected by the Executive Council. The Executive Headquarters are now at Louisiana State University Shreveport. Dr. William D. Pederson, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, and Director of the International Lincoln Center for American Studies, is the Executive Director of ATWS. In 1995 the United Nations granted U.N. "consultative status," thus enabling the Association to increase its direct impact on Third World issues and developments. A website was established in 1996 which provides information about the history, structure and activities of ATWS as well as a membership directory.
ATWS has an international impact through the worldwide circulation of JTWS, U.N. "Consultative Status," the ATWS website, chapters in South Asia and Africa, and contributions of scholarly articles and book reviews to JTWS by Third World scholars.
Journal of Third World Studies