Fulbright Program

The AAA is asking people in the US to contact their congressional representatives over cuts to the Fulbright program and the NEH – and the possibility of even more drastic cuts in the near future. In addition to urging you to do the same, I wanted to add some comments about the Fulbright program.

I probably would have had to change my research topic if I hadn’t received a Fulbright dissertation grant to come to Taiwan. The Fulbright program was founded by Senator William Fulbright in 1946, and was initially paid for by selling off war surplus. This makes the current situation all the more depressing. The following chart shows where the current debt comes from.


As you can see, half the debt comes from a combination of Bush-era tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That means that the Fulbright program, originally paid for out of war surplus, is now being cancelled to pay for war debt.

As Maura Elizabeth Cunningham puts it in her post on the China Beat:

Programs like the Fulbright-Hays grants aren’t just about supporting individual scholars; they have a larger mission of promoting work that collectively helps all of us contextualize the world we live in and recognize how it has come to look the way it does. By not providing the funding necessary to support this year’s crop of applicants, the government is implying that such work isn’t important, that we can exist in a global community but don’t need to understand it.

Unlike HTS, the Fulbright program and NEH fund important research which I believe genuinely contributes to our understanding of the world. It is depressing to see our reckless involvement in two unfunded wars now threatening these programs.

5 thoughts on “Fulbright Program

  1. A brief note: there is a big difference between the Fulbright program and Fulbright-Hays. The former was founded in 1946 and is considered “the” Fulbright grant, and the latter was founded in 1961 in response to Sputnik, with the idea that our academics were not getting the same international research support that our rivals’ were. It is also the latter whose competition has been cancelled due to cuts made to Title VI funding under the Higher Education Act, which also funds a large number of international education programs through the Department of Education. Fulbright “Prime” remains funded by the State Department, and while it is also suffering, the situation is less dire. The biggest complaint in the coming year will likely be doctoral students taking a larger share of traditional Fulbright grants which are available to any college graduate, making the program more competitive.

  2. Thanks for the info, Z. I was going to be a 2011 applicant, and am really saddened by the idea that I won’t be getting a chance to apply for this funding. It’s a bit scary how little funding there really is these days for dissertation fieldwork. With the situation getting worse, I wonder how many potential 2011 applicants will wind up counting on the 2012 Fulbright-Hays to be reinstated.

  3. Times change and so do funding sources. Stop crying in your beer and figure out that the money is still there, it has just moved across the street out of the twaddle generating ivory tower and over to the firmly grounded Pentagon. The Minerva grants and CIA scholarships have more money than Fulbright, and you will be doing research that helps people.

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