Fulbright Program facing major cut

Again with the cuts to worthwhile educational and research programs…

Taken from the write-up at The Monkey Cage by Jarrod Hayes:

The Obama administration’s FY15 budget request to Congress includes a 13.5 percent cut to the Fulbright Program totaling $30.5 million. As in the case of congressional attempts to cut funding for political science research via the National Science Foundation, these cuts could soon mean that many fewer scholars of international relations and comparative politics will be able to undertake research abroad, thus contributing to a decline in the quality and quantity of scholarship decision makers and the administration depend on to develop United States foreign policy. 

Thirty million dollars.  Less than 10 cents for every person in America.  That is how much President Obama’s new budget cuts from the Fulbright Scholars Program, the globally recognized international education program launched by Senator J. William Fulbright and President Harry Truman nearly 70 years ago in 1946.  In all that time, the program has never faced a cut in funding like it confronts today… 

Why should we care?  For academics, I hardly need to make the case.  The Fulbright program is the largest and most prestigious program of its kind in the world.  It provides a priceless opportunity for academics and scholars from the United States to teach and do research in other countries.  It also brings foreign scholars and academics here to the United States, enriching the teaching and research of the institutions they visit.  The benefits for social and political scientists are crystal clear.  For IR and Comparative Politics scholars, direct observation of how other polities and societies operate is often critical to theoretical breakthroughs and empirical research.  Even for political theorists and scholars of American politics, the opportunity to interact directly with scholars from other countries holds the promise of richer ideas about political processes both generally and specific to the United States.

While the proposal is to reduce the program budget, not to ax it completely, a 13% cut in the “flagship international academic exchange program” is severely damaging. This is a well-run program with lasting benefits. There’s a petition calling for Congress to restore the $30 million dollars in the federal budget here that contains more information about the wide-ranging benefits of the program.