The Autour du Monde Scholarships

The Autour du Monde scholarships were set up in 1898, after Kahn founded his own bank and traveled extensively between 1896-1897.


Developed along with Henri Bergson (whose words we recognize in the foundational texts) and Ferdinand Buisson (then professor of educational sciences at the Sorbonne), this initial creation was entrusted to the University of Paris.


The Autour du Monde scholarships were thus meant for young, elite academic specialists, and presented itself as an invitation to temporarily abandon their book studies in favor of a real-life experience of the world through travel. According to Kahn, it consisted of invigorating “their thoughts by bringing them closer to the action.” The lucky winners were not supposed to travel with the personal goal of improving their knowledge in their own discipline, but in order to “enter into friendly communion” with different populations, with a focus that was both “patriotic and humanitarian.”


Kahn hoped for a vast field survey, meant to enlighten the leaders of France, one that would attempt to “understand the exact role that various nations play at the global level, determine their different aspirations, see where these aspirations lead them, if they have to lead to violent collisions or if they could be reconciled with one another.”


This inaugural foundation was already steeped in two sources from which Kahn’s work would continue to draw: the importance of serving one’s own country as well as international reconciliation.


Expanded to women in 1905, it then spread (with several variants) to Japan, Germany, Great Britain, the United States and Russia.