The precursor of the Center for the Study of Global Change was the Indiana Center on Global Change and World Peace (ICGCWP), founded in 1989 by John P. Lovell, a professor of Political Science. He secured funding for the initial center with a generous five-year MacArthur Grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Focused on creating a community of young scholars, the ICGCWP identified and supported ten graduate students per year with annual $10,000 stipends per student. These graduate students took part in a variety of programs, workshops, and classes to cultivate them into scholars. An unexpected change in leadership led to the closing of this initial program and the ICGCWP did not renew any funds to continue its work.
In 1995, there was an open competition for the directorship of a new global center. N. Brian Winchester took on this leadership role and subsequently submitted a Title VI proposal to the U.S. Department of Education. He expanded the ICGCWP's focus to include pre-collegiate, undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate students and suggested a different name, the Center for the Study of Global Change (Global Center). This new name represented a broader global focus rooted in the deeper internationalization of Indiana University and beyond. Funding was approved in the spring of 1996 and the Global Center has since been a Title VI National Resource Center.
The Global Center has emerged as a national and international leader in K-12 teacher training, international curriculum, public outreach, and interactive technologies to support and promote global learning. The Global Center continues to expand its innovative programming and activities, most recently demonstrated by Voices and Visions, a project funded by the Social Science Research Council that promotes dialogue and understanding of Islam in world contexts.