Fulbright in the World
Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations... I do not think educational exchange is certain to produce affection between peoples, nor indeed do I think that is one of its necessary purposes; it is quite enough if it contributes to the feeling of a common humanity, to an emotional awareness that other countries are populated not by doctrines that we fear but by people with the same capacity for pleasure and pain, for cruelty and kindness, as the people we were brought up with in our own countries.
—Senator J. William Fulbright
The culture shock Senator J. William Fulbright experienced as a 21-year old Rhodes Scholar in England convinced him that the way to achieve peace in the world was for people of all countries to get to know and respect each other’s traditions, cultures, and values.
Senator Fulbright’s idea was simplicity itself; create a program with the whole world as its stage, that would simultaneously encourage students from as many countries as possible to study in the United States while persuading young Americans to live in, and come to know and understand, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Western Hemisphere, and the Pacific.
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.
The program was originally financed by the sale of surplus U.S. war property, later also with U.S.-held foreign currencies from the sale of grain abroad, and by funds appropriated by Congress. In the early years, the program largely depended on American enthusiasm; as a new century begins, it draws its energy from 50 binational Fulbright commissions and educational institutions in every corner of the globe. Today, about 60 percent of the global program’s costs are covered by the government of the United States, with the rest coming from educational institutions, more than 40 governments of other nations, and the private sector. Twenty-one of 50 partner nations now match or exceed U.S. funding.
"Of all the examples in recent history of beating swords into plowshares, of having some benefit come to humanity out of the destruction of war, I think that this program in its results will be among the most preeminent."
- President John F. Kennedy in remarks at the ceremonies
marking the fifteenth anniversary of the
Fulbright Program, August 1, 1961 .