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An Examination of the Fulbright Program

An Examination of the Fulbright Program

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Published by: The American Security Project on Aug 10, 2012
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www.AmericanSecurityProject.org1100 New York Avenue, NW Suite 710W Washington, DC
 An Examination of theFulbright Program
International Educational Exchange from a National Security Perspective
Prachi Naik  August 2012Key Facts
Te Fulbright program:
•
Is an international educational exchange program that sends American students,scholars, artists, and proessionals overseas
and
brings oreign students, scholars, artists,and proessionals to America to teach, study, and conduct research or a dened amounto time.
•
Has been in existence since 1948 and has an alumni network o over 300,000.
•
Operates in over 155 countries and supports the exchange o over 8,000 participantsannually.
•
Is under the purview o the U.S. Department o State.
•
Emphasizes and encourages mutual understanding, cross-cultural understanding, andoreign language development, all o which have proound implications or Americannational security and public diplomacy.
•
Could be improved by a number o measures ranging rom more eective organizationo alumni to greater accessibility within the United States and around the world.
“I you talk to a man in a language that he understands, that goes to his head. But i you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” 
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–Nelson Mandela Sixty-seven years ago, a reshman senator rom Arkansas introduced a bill in the US Congress with this idea at its very core: to inspire and enable the kind o intellectual and culturalengagement with the world that would allow or many such conversations o the heart.
Prachi Naik is an Adjunct Junior Fellow at American Security Project.
 
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 AMERICAN SECURITY PROJECT
Tis bill, signed into law by President ruman one year later, set into motion a visionary internationaleducational exchange program that has since grown into one o the most successul,globally lauded oreign policy initiatives undertaken by the U.S. government.Te Fulbright Program, named ater its sponsor Senator J. William Fulbright, isounded on the basic premise o increasing mutual understanding between peopleo the United States o America and people o other nations.
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  As a project centered on acilitating the educational exchange o Americans toother countries and oreign nationals to America, the Fulbright Program seeks toexpand and integrate global networks o knowledge production and cross-culturalawareness in the name o the international good.Such a pursuit has also proven incredibly benecial or American public diplomacy and national security. Tis paper seeks to approach and understand the Fulbrightprogram—its history, the work that it does in the world, and its uture—rom thispublic diplomacy and national security perspective.Te Fulbright has grown rom an initiative that began with eighty-three participantsrom our dierent countries in 1948 into an internationally renowned institution.
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 It most recently boasted an exchange body o around 8,000 scholars and students rom 155 countries in 2012.
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 Evaluating its growth holistically, it becomes clear that there is much policy wisdom and political insight to begained rom the Fulbright program’s successes and limitations.Much o the work that it does in the world today is made possible by the philosophical and political oundationso the program’s past.Tis paper unpacks the Fulbright institution in an eort to understand what its successes in the realm o oreign relations have meant or American national security.
 A Brief History 
Te Fulbright Program was born rom legislation best known as the Fulbright Act, passed into law on August1
st
, 1946 by President Harry ruman.
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Introduced to Congress as a direct response to the events o World War II, the Act authorized “the use o creditsestablished abroad or the promotion o international good will through the exchange o students in elds o education, culture, and science.”
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o put it simply, the Act created a program o international educationalexchange, sending American students overseas and welcoming oreign students to America.Te program was to be unded by proceeds rom the sales o surplus war property at a time when there was a distinct need or the U.S. to make use o nonconvertible currencies. However, the Act took a ew years to makethe transition rom law to actuality, as it required much bureaucratic maneuvering to arrange and establish theseries o bi-national partnerships that have come to characterize the Fulbright Program. An issue that quickly became prominent was a lack o unding in U.S. dollars to support the scholars’ statesidecosts.Besides the enlisting o help rom universities and corporations in the private sector, the passing o the 1948
HarryTrumansigningtheFulbrightAct
 
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U.S. Inormation and Educational Exchange Act that enabled the Fulbright Program to get o the ground.Under this piece o landmark legislation, the Department o State was able to “seek appropriations to pay contractual costs and some dollar expenses o oreign grantees, as well as carry out exchanges in countries withminimal surplus property sales.
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 Te rst batch o Fulbright participants began their travels in 1948.
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At that time, partnerships had only beenestablished with China, Burma, and the Philippines, so the Fulbright cohort was the smallest it has ever beenin the programs history: 47 Americans and 36 oreign nationals.
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 Momentum picked up drastically, and by the next year the program was able to send 823 Americans abroadand bring 967 oreign nationals to America in an exchange that included many more European states such asFrance, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
9
 Over the next decade, the Fulbright program continued to expand at a substantial rate, incorporating moreand more countries into its robust network o exchange.Te practice o allowing countries to pay o their debts to the United States inunorthodox manners such as contributing to and participating in educationalexchange programs also continued and became something o an institution. With the passage o more landmark legislation in 1961— the Mutual Educationaland Cultural Exchange Act, also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act— the programsaw increased governmental and institutional support to expand its authority overeducational matters at home and exchange projects abroad.Te Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act not only widened the geographicpurview o the Fulbright Scholarship Board to include over 100 new countries, butalso “promoted modern oreign language and area studies schools and colleges in theUnited States.”
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 oday the Fulbright Program operates in over 155 countries around the world and has a participant body o around 8000 scholars and students per year.
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 It is internationally recognized as an exchange program that brings together people rom all walks o lie and“is an important element o the United States’ bilateral relationships with countries around the world.”
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 What is a Fulbright Scholarship?
Te Fulbright Program operates on a number o dierent levels: it oers “competitive, merit-based grants” toa select number o students, scholars, teachers, and proessionals—both American and International— to live, work, and/or study abroad or a dened amount o time.
13
 Te exchanges are between the United States and other countries only. A student rom South Arica would notbe able to receive a Fulbright grant to study or research or work in Tailand, or example.Tese grants are generally ully-unded and cover “roundtrip transportation to the host country, monthly maintenance or the length o the grant, ull or partial tuition (i applicable), accident and sickness coverage,and the cost o mandatory Fulbright orientation and enrichment activities.”
14
 
J.WilliamFulbright

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