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Founded in 1981, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) is a private nonprofit federation of independent overseas research centers (ORCs) that promotes advanced research, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, with a focus on the conservation and recording of cultural heritage and the understanding and interpretation of modern societies.


CAORC fosters research projects across national boundaries, encourages collaborative research and programmatic and administrative coherence among member centers, and works to expand their resource base and service capacity. CAORC member centers maintain a permanent presence in the host countries where they operate—in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, and West Africa.

The centers are the primary vehicle through which American scholars carry out research vital to our understanding of and intersection with other cultures. Some centers have existed for over a century while others were founded in the decades following World War II in response to American scholarly needs and host country invitations. Over 500 U.S. universities, colleges, and museums hold multiple memberships in the centers which serve their institutional members, individual fellows and members, and affiliated scholars through a broad range of research- and teaching-support services.


Funding is awarded from sources including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as from private foundations and individuals.

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The 25 American overseas research centers promote international scholarly collaboration in 29 countries around the globe. Click on our interactive map to see where our member centers are, their homepage, and links to their fellowship opportunities



American overseas research centers (ORCs) promote international scholarly exchange, primarily through sponsorship of fellowship programs, foreign language study, and collaborative research projects. They facilitate access to research resources, provide a forum for contact and exchange, offer library and technical support and accommodation, and disseminate information to the scholarly and general public through conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and publications. Because of the centers’ contributions to the generation of knowledge, the creation of area expertise, and cordial relations between the United States and the host countries, scholars seek CAORC’s help in establishing similar centers in other parts of the world.


The members of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers have centers in Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cyprus, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jerusalem, Jordan, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkey, West Africa, and Yemen. They serve as a base for many American scholars undertaking research in the host countries.

CAORC launched full-time operations in 1986 with grants from the Andrew W. Mellon, Rockefeller, and Exxon Foundations and the J.P. Getty Trust.

CAORC is funded in part by the following public and private institutions:


  • U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

  • Smithsonian Institution

  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

  • Carnegie Corporation of New York

  • J.M. Kaplan Fund

  • Library of Congress

  • Center membership dues

CAORC helps affiliated Centers secure funding from sources such as:

  • U.S. Department of Education

  • National Endowment for the Humanities

  • Institute for Museum and Library Services


  • Joukowsky Family Foundation

  • Rockefeller Foundation

  • The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation


  • CAORC member centers have an impact on thousands of U.S. students. The ORCs are responsible for taking thousands of U.S. students and scholars from universities across America to places overseas where study and research are difficult to negotiate.

  • CAORC member centers are relied upon by U.S. universities and colleges. Over 500 U.S. educational institutions in all 50 states hold institutional memberships in 25 ORCs around the world rely on the ORCs to fund and support research and study overseas.

  • CAORC member centers are cost-effective. The ORCs facilitate research, conduct programs, and inform the American public, all while operating with very low administrative costs.

  • CAORC member centers are located in countries of vital importance to the United States. Most American overseas research centers (ORCs) are located in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.


The Council of American Overseas Research Centers:


  • provides secure funding for 80% of its member centers;

  • facilitates the establishment of new research centers;

  • secures funds for and supports a number of fellowships;

  • explores new technology in support of international scholarship;

  • fosters communication and collaboration among centers leading to a strengthening of academic programs and administrative procedures;

  • speaks in support of overseas research centers;

  • helps expand the resource base and raise the profile of member centers;

  • fosters research projects across national boundaries; and

  • serves as an advocate for area studies.

American overseas research centers offer many services:

  • providing research libraries, technical services, and living accommodations;

  • serving as a base for field expeditions;

  • supporting publication of papers, books and serials, newsletters and information bulletins;

  • sponsoring joint scholarly projects and offering a program of conferences, lectures, seminars, concerts and exhibitions;

  • providing a place for contact and exchange between American researchers and their host-country counterparts as well as third-country colleagues working in the host-country;

  • liaising with host-country governments and universities in obtaining access to research sources; and

  • monitoring and offering advice on the research climate in the host-country.

Video: An Introduction to CAORC

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