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Title: The Fulbright Program and American public diplomacy
Author: Bettie, Molly Lenore
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 0703
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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International educational exchanges are widely considered to be an important form of public diplomacy. They are thought to build relationships and mutual understanding between the peoples of different nations, and thereby contribute to international goodwill and the cause of peace. The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship educational exchange endeavour, was founded upon such principles and expectations. During its first six decades of exchanges, the programme has grown from modest beginnings into an academically prestigious brand in international education. This study offers a newly updated history of the Fulbright Program, based on archival research and semi-structured interviews. It examines the role that the Fulbright Program has played in American public diplomacy and foreign policy since its establishment in the aftermath of the Second World War. It situates the narrative of the exchange programme against its larger context of U.S. foreign relations. The exchange programme is shown to be remarkably adaptable, as it overcomes a range of political and economic challenges throughout its history. Three key themes are drawn from this historical narrative and explored in analytical chapters: funding, bureaucracy and the Fulbright grantee experience. The ebb and flow of Congressional support for exchanges, as well as the phenomenon of cost-sharing by partnering nations, reveals a great deal about the Fulbright Program’s purposes and practices. The perceived purpose of the exchanges can also be inferred by examining the changes that have taken place in the bureaucratic structure of American public diplomacy throughout the history of the Fulbright Program. The grantee experience is arguably the greatest determinant of an exchange programme’s effectiveness, and has been the subject of most Fulbright Program literature. Unlike previous studies, however, which relied primarily on surveys of exchange participants, this study adopts a more holistic approach by focusing on the institution rather than the individual grantee. This study’s framework is based upon the parent fields of public diplomacy. Drawing upon theories from psychology, communications and political science, the analytical framework suggests an original approach for exchange diplomacy research. It critically examines the assumptions that are often used to justify exchanges, including the contact hypothesis, the opinion leader concept and the perceived link between public opinion and foreign policy. Using a combination of archival research and interviews, the study offers new insights into the Fulbright Program’s practices and challenges normative assumptions about the role of exchange diplomacy in foreign policy.
Supervisor: Brown, R. ; Popple, S. ; Voltmer, K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available