Major international events contribute to guiding IR scholarship's interests, yet it remains surprisingly unexplored how transformative political events affect international relations as an academic field. This article focuses on the linkage between key global moments and the institutional factors that condition IR scholarship, focusing on the important yet under-explored intervening elements in the interrelation between political events and academic practice. The article defines the utility of such focus and illustrates it with case studies of three central parties to the Cold War conflict: Russia as representative of the Eastern bloc, Canada of the Western alliance, and Switzerland as a neutral polity. This article shows how institutional factors such as funding schemes, themarketization of education, and the creation of new IR departments operate as effective “hinges” exerting significant influence over the ways scholars develop ideas about international relations.