“Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations. Man’s capacity for decent behavior seems to vary directly with his perception of others as individual humans with human motives and feelings, whereas his capacity for barbarism seems related to his perception of an adversary in abstract terms, as the embodiment, that is, of some evil design or ideology”
Senator J. William Fulbright
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. It was was created in the aftermath of World War II, to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.
The program has been active in Norway since 1949 and is managed by the U.S.- Norway Fulbright Foundation for Educational Exchange, an office with a staff of four. A Board of Directors composed of four American and four Norwegian members oversees the general direction of the program in Norway, and undertakes the final selection of Norwegian and U.S. grantees. Both the Norwegian and U.S. governments support the program with annual allocations of funds.
Each year approximately 40 Norwegians receive grants to study, teach, or conduct research in the US, and some 30 Americans receive grants to do the same in Norway. Grants are awarded in science and technology, the arts and humanities, education, journalism, media, government, law, and virtually every academic discipline. Students at the Masters and PhD level and scholars (post-PhD or equivalent) are eligible to apply, and grants currently range in size from NOK 100,000 to 200,000.
The program counts among its alumni distinguished men and women from all walks of life, including poets and presidents, Nobel Laureates and syndicated columnists, artists and business leaders, economists, physicians, actors, playwrights, and cabinet officials. Alumni of the program invariably credit the Fulbright experience with deepening their perspective and broadening their horizon, but the impact of the program extends beyond the merely personal; more than 325,000 alumni have forged partnerships between research and higher education communities all over the world, and contributed in countless ways to “turning nations into people,” as Senator Fulbright famously framed the purpose of the program.