Department or Program



This thesis analyzes how shifts in United States foreign policy influenced the Ford Foundation’s relationship with the United States government in terms of how they defined and brought ideas of “development” to Latin America. Focusing specifically on Chile, it argues that the Ford Foundation conveniently shifted from a national focus in the early twentieth century to an international focus in the wake of the Cold War and the threat of the spread of communism. Its efforts to spark intellectual pluralism in Latin American state universities in the late 1960’s were an effort to promote modernization by combating radical ideologies. Finally, their shift to a focus on reestablishing “popular democracy” and ensuring human rights through enhancing civil society in the early 1990’s was deeply influenced by the rise of neoliberalism as a worldview. This thesis uses scholarly secondary sources, United States government documents, and several accounts from Ford Foundation representatives in Latin America to argue that although the Ford Foundation attempted to manipulate their association with United States foreign policy at times in the last fifty years, their identity as an international philanthropic organization with the intention of spreading democracy is inherently and unavoidably political, and therefore deeply influenced by the context of the people they choose to work with and places they choose to work in.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Adair, Jennifer

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2013

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.