Fulbright Program was established in 1946 by the US Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries”.
Started in Italy in 1948 it became a bi-national program in 1975. It is funded and managed jointly by the US Department of State and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the US-Italy Fulbright Commission (Commissione per gli scambi culturali fra l’Italia e gli Stati Uniti). The Commission collaborates with the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES).
It fosters cultural exchanges between Italy and the United States in all fields: including sciences, humanities, social sciences and the arts.
It promotes study, research and teaching in Italy and the United States through scholarships for Italian and US citizens (130 to140 scholarships each year).
It provides scholarships to Italian universities interested in inviting US professors and researchers to lecture, to conduct seminars and/or workshops. (Intercountry Program and Fulbright Specialist Program).
In September 1945, the freshman senator from Arkansas, J. William Fulbright, introduced a bill in the US Congress that called for the use of proceeds from the sales of surplus war property to fund the “promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science”. One year later President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law and the young senator’s vision of replacing swords with plowshares found its expression.
Today, Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the US Congress and by the people of partner nations. The program – working with universities, schools, bi-national Fulbright commissions, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector – actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions.
From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which other countries and governments work with the US to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The world has been transformed in ensuing decades, but the fundamental principles of international partnership and mutual understanding remain at the core of the Fulbright Program’s mission.
The Fulbright Program in Italy
The first agreement between the US Government and the Italian Government was signed on December 18, 1948. Since then, about 8,000 Italian and American fellows have participated in the Fulbright Program. Many Fulbrighters on both sides of the Atlantic now hold positions of major academic and professional significance.
The history of the first forty years of the program is told by Dr. Cipriana Scelba, the first Italian Director of the Commission.