The College of International Relations started out as the School of Foreign Service. It was administratively under the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). It initially offered the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) degree in School Year (SY) 1954-55, as authorized by the Department of Education under Recognition No. 35 Series of 1954. A total number of 1,000 enrollees in SY 1959-60 prompted Lyceum President Dr. Sotero H. Laurel to separate the School of Foreign Service from the CAS. Dr. Laurel became the Acting Dean of the newly separated School of Foreign Service. It was later renamed College of Foreign Service. In 2005, the College was further renamed College of International Relations (CIR).
Since its establishment, the College had in its roster distinguished and prominent professors and teaching staff that included the late President Diosdado Macapagal who became a Special Lecturer teaching Philippine Foreign Relations in 1969. Ten years later, former Ambassador to the Holy See Alberto Katigbak, in his capacity as Dean of the College, initiated revisions to the BSFS curriculum. In SY 1981-84, Dr. Jose D. Ingles became Dean of the College. He resigned in 1985 to become Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and subsequently Undersecretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Ambassador Luis Moreno-Salcedo, Ambassador Benjamin B. Domingo and Ambassador Dolores B. Sales also served as Dean of the College before Ambassador Reynaldo O. Arcilla took over as CIR Dean in April 2006.
Soon after his assumption as Dean, Ambassador Arcilla instituted changes in the CIR curriculum to ensure its responsiveness to the changing needs of its constituents and especially designed to prepare its students for the Foreign Service Officer examination given annually by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The following subjects were introduced: Philippine Political, Economic and Socio-Cultural Conditions, Cross Cultural Communications, Multilateral Diplomacy, and Field Research in Diplomacy. New emphasis was given to the study of International Relations, World History and Civilization, and International Organizations, the core subjects of the FSO examination.
The syllabi of practically all the CIR subjects have undergone revisions to bring them up to date, including Diplomatic Practice, Introduction to International Relations, Philippine Foreign Relations, Protocol and Etiquette, and International Organizations.
To strengthen the CIR faculty, new chairpersons were appointed. Ambassador Josue L. Villa, former Philippine ambassador to Thailand and to the People’s Republic of China, joined in April 2006 as Chairperson of the Department of Politics, Government and Diplomacy, and Ambassador Alfredo Almendrala, former Philippine ambassador to Myanmar and Consul General in San Francisco, as Chairperson of the Department of International Trade, in addition to their appointment as Special Lecturer.
In addition to long-time professors Ambassador Dolores Sale, Ambassador Fortunato Oblena, and General Cesar Fortuno, new professors were added to the faculty: Ambassador Apolinario Lozada, Jr., Ambassador Phoebe Gomez; Ambassador Nestor Padalhin; Atty. Ruby Sakkam, a summa cum laude graduate of St. Scholastica College; and Mr. Gil Santos, veteran journalist and former bureau chief of Associated Press. Ambassador Aladin Villacorte, Ambassador Emelinda Lee-Pineda and Ambassador Estrella Berenguel have also joined the faculty recently. Ms. Gladys Nalangan, Mr. Genesis Brillantes and Ritchelle Alburo, all bright and superbly qualified young teachers, are also in the faculty. The foreign language teachers are also all extremely well-qualified.
Starting SY 1992-93, Japanese Language (Nihongo) was offered in addition to French and Spanish which were the original foreign languages offered to Foreign Service students. Mandarin was later offered as another foreign language in 2003-04, although it was initially offered on an experimental basis. Similarly in SY 1992-93, adjusting to the growing importance of international trade and economics in a globalizing world, International Trade was offered as another major program of the BSFS degree. Therefore, starting during the said school year, two (2) major programs were offered: BSFS major in Diplomacy and BSFS major in International Trade.
The College encouraged the establishment of College-based organizations to help promote the holistic development of its students. The Foreign Languages Association (FLA) was established in SY 1998-99 as an umbrella organization of foreign language students associations. The FLA is composed of the Nihonggo Kaiwa Kai (NKK), an association formed in 1992 by Japanese language students. The Cervantino (CC), an association of Spanish language students. In addition, the Foreign Service Club (FSC) and the UNESCO Club, both organizations of Foreign Service students, were established in SY 1998 and SY 2002-03, respectively.
The College has forged cooperation agreements with various organizations, most notable of which are: a Memorandum of Cooperation with the United Nations Information Center in Manila; informal agreements with the DFA, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Labor and Employment, World Trade Center Metro Manila, Philippine Air Lines, as well as with many other government and private establishments regarding the practicum training of BSFS students in those establishments.
The College also established the Philippines-Japan Internship Program whose first participant was Mr. Manabu Tanaka, a Japanese national who taught Nihonggo classes in the College. It organized the First Foreign Languages Song Festival in SY 2003-04 that was participated in by both Filipino and foreign students. The College helped in designing the curriculum for the Master’s Degree in Diplomacy offered in the Lyceum’s Claro M. Recto Academy for Advanced Studies in SY 2000-01. This course was later renamed Master of Arts in Foreign Service.