- The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, a Foundation agricultural scientist, for his pivotal role in modernizing agriculture in the developing world. This effort becomes popularly known as the Green Revolution, a term coined two years earlier by William S. Gaud, former director of United States Aid for International Development (USAID).
- The Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) is established to develop improved food crop varieties for the developing world. Beginning with four research centers funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, CGIAR expands to 16 centers supported by 39 international donors.
- C. Douglas Dillon becomes chair of the Foundation's board of trustees and serves until 1975.
- John H. Knowles becomes president of the Rockefeller Foundation and serves until 1979.
- The Foundation’s New York City archives are opened to the public. Two years later, the Rockefeller Archive Center begins operations in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
- Women’s studies are supported with grants to Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, the Berkshire Conference on Women’s History, an interdisciplinary graduate program in women’s studies at Sarah Lawrence, and a program on women and religion at Harvard Divinity School
- A new program focuses on supporting social history projects, including the history of women, family history, and the use of oral history and film to document American cultural heritage.
- The Foundation supports modern dance and ballet companies led by Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Laura Dean, Martha Graham and Robert Joffrey to create new works.
- The Foundation funds the International Agricultural Development Service (IADS), designed to provide technical assistance in agricultural and rural development to developing countries. Over the next decade, the Foundation contributes nearly $8 million toward operational costs. In 1985, IADS merges with the Agricultural Development Council and Winrock International Livestock Research and Training Center to form Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development.
- To commemorate the bicentennial of the United States, the Foundation supports the Recorded Anthology of American Music, which creates a comprehensive set of recordings of American music for distribution to selected libraries, music schools and other nonprofit institutions in the U.S. and abroad. A total of 7,000 sets are distributed, the Foundation’s “bicentennial gift to the American people.”
- Cyrus R. Vance becomes chair of the Foundation's board of trustees and serves until 1977.
- The Foundation approves the first of a series of appropriations over the course of a decade to create an international network of biomedical research groups to study the “great neglected diseases” of the developing world. Diseases include sleeping sickness, leprosy, malaria, schistosomiasis, hookworm, river blindness and childhood diarrhea. By the program’s end, 360 trained scientists have collaborated in 26 countries.
- Theodore M. Hesburgh becomes chair of the board of trustees and serves until 1982.
- The Foundation sponsors a commission to assess the condition of the humanities in America and make recommendations. Issued five years later, its report—The Humanities in American Life—identifies a crisis in the quality of American public education.
- After three decades of being unwelcome in China, the Foundation re-enters the country by responding to a request from Chinese officials to assist in establishing an Institute of Developmental and Reproductive Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.