Who We Are

Our Mission & Vision

The International Relations Council strengthens Kansas City's global perspective by maintaining an active dialogue around world events, global issues, and their impact on our community. As a nonpartisan, educational nonprofit organization, the IRC values informed civil discourse, accessibility, and substance as we work to sharpen our community's 21st-century global acumen.

Our vision is a globally informed, engaged, and active Kansas City community that welcomes diverse perspectives and connects through a sincere desire to contribute to our shared future.

What We Do

The IRC offers a range of programs to grow a global perspective and highlight international connections within our community. We warmly welcome your involvement; please check out the different sections of our website and feel free to contact Matthew Hughes, executive director, for more information.

Expert Speakers and Discussion Groups

  • IRC Lecture Series. We bring together dignitaries, foreign-policy experts, and regional leaders to discuss, debate, and engage the local community in issues of international scope and local relevance.
  • Great Decisions. Groups meet around the metro area and online for conversations on critical international topics.
  • IRC Book Club and International Film Club. Participants read a book or screen an international film in advance of a facilitated conversation that explores international issues and connects the community.
  • News & Views. We host community conversations on the latest international news in a respectful, informal setting, both in person and online.

Explore the World

  • Global Experience Series. Participants of all ages, interests, and backgrounds explore how international Kansas City is while answering two questions: What's your global story? Do you get the chance to share it?
  • Lexicon: Bite-Size Language Intros. Each week, participants are introduced to the history, context, and basics of one of the world’s 6500 languages.
  • International Career Series. Each week, an IRC member shares their work in an international field, offering insight into educational background, career paths, and intricacies of the field.
  • IRC Speakers Bureau. International subject-matter experts are available to speak free of charge at community events, K-12 schools, and universities.

Student Programs

  • Academic WorldQuest. Each year since 2006, the IRC has offered high-school students the chance to showcase their knowledge of world affairs, geography, history, and world events; the winning team receives an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national tournament.
  • Eliot S. Berkley Award. Each year, in memory of our founder and longtime executive director, Eliot S. Berkley, the International Relations Council presents this award to an exceptional high-school junior or senior who has demonstrated superior academic interest and competence in international studies. The award includes a $500 scholarship.
  • Your Global Future. This unique college and career fair brings together dozens of international businesses, organizations, and colleges and universities to show hundreds of area high-school students just how global their future can be.

IRC Signature Programs

  • Berkley Lecture. Founded in 1996, this lecture brings an expert in foreign policy and global affairs to the Kansas City area to provide a platform for engaging community members in understanding critical global issues.
  • WorldQuest. We host a global trivia night for 200+ business professionals, academic faculty, students, and community members.
  • Global Honors Evening. For more than 30 years, the IRC has recognized individuals or organizations for a variety of contributions – to foreign policy and global affairs, to international commerce, or to the Kansas City community.

Our National Network

The IRC is one of more than 90 organizations in the U.S. affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). WACA is the largest nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to fostering grassroots understanding of, and engagement in, international affairs.