Fulbright Act and Grants

views updated May 17 2018


FULBRIGHT ACT AND GRANTS. The Fulbright Act of 1946 (Public Law 584) was sponsored by Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas to initiate and finance certain international educational exchange programs. The programs used foreign currency funds accruing to the United States from the sale to other governments of property abroad that was considered surplus after World War II. Subsequent acts of Congress, including the Fulbright-Hays Act (Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act) of 1961, broadened the programs and authorized the use of such currencies from other sources and the appropriation of dollars if needed for the effective administration of the programs by the Department of State. By the twenty-first century, many nongovernmental organizations and participating governments provided umerous services, as well as the dollars necessary, to supplement the foreign currency grants.

Proposed as an amendment to the Surplus Property Act of 1944, the act was motivated, Fulbright stated, by the conviction "that the necessity for increasing our understanding of others and their understanding of us has an urgency that it has never had in the past." Programs were developed by executive agreements with interested, eligible nations. By 2000, these numbered more than 140 countries and territories in every region of the world. More than 84,000 Americans awarded grants had traveled abroad from every U.S. state and major dependency to study, teach, lecture, or conduct research—usually for one year. More than 146,000 foreigners with travel grants had visited the United States on similar projects. The program made possible many types of activities, among them cooperative undertakings by American and foreign specialists in journalism, the physical sciences, and social studies; and the promotion of American studies abroad and of "foreign area studies" in the United States. The act was the first to allocate to such activities foreign currency funds accruing to the United States under agreements with other governments, thus establishing a precedent for the financing of other, related programs that were to follow. It anticipated, too, the need for systematic government financing of such programs to a substantial degree. It also committed the U.S. government, for the first time, to long-term programs with global potential and on a scale more nearly commensurate with their current significance. It originated, in fact, the largest program in history consisting of international exchange grants made to individuals and thus helped demonstrate the value of such activities in increasing mutual understanding and broadening the community of interests among peoples.


Dudden, Arthur, and Russell R. Dynes, eds. The Fulbright Experience, 1946–1986: Encounters and Transformations. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1987.

Johnson, Walter, and Francis J. Colligan. The Fulbright Program: A History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

Woods, Randall Bennett. Fulbright: A Biography. Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Francis J.Colligan/f. b.

See alsoEducation ; Education, Higher: Colleges and Universities ; Exchange Students ; Multiculturalism ; Teacher Training .

Fulbright Act

views updated Jun 11 2018

Fulbright Act a US act of 1946, named for the American senator William Fulbright (1905–95), which authorized funds from the sale of surplus war materials overseas to be used to finance exchange programmes of students and teachers between the US and other countries. The scheme was later supported by grants from the US government.