Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"The Fulbright Program: A History" (1965) Book Review

From time to time I post about international education related books to IHEC Blog.  My posts are not formal book reviews like one would find in an academic journal but rather a short blurb of information about a new book with some commentary and/or a table of contents.  The purpose is to put information about new and interesting literature on the radar of IHEC Blog readers.  

My post today strays from this format slightly in that I am doing a more formal review (not academic journal worthy, to be sure) of a book from 1965 entitled: The Fulbright Program: A History by Walter Johnson and Francis J. Colligan.
Why am I posting about a book from 1965?  There are several reasons:

1.  I served as the Fulbright Program Adviser at The University of Chicago for twelve years until I left my position to move to Chicago Booth.  I miss it greatly and think it is a program worthy of writing about!
2.  I enjoy and appreciate the history of international educational exchanges and engagement and, for me, a book on the History of the Fulbright Program from 1967 is quite appealing!
3.  I am so crazy busy I can barely keep all the balls I'm juggling up in the air so I thought I would recycle this brief review I wrote for a class several years ago [and probably at the last minute] that I recently came across while researching in my files so I thought I would save myself a little time today (meaning last night when I prepared this post).
4.  Why not....J. William Fulbright is someone IHEC Blog has and will continue to post about from time to time!

This book was first published in 1965 by Walter Johnson and Francis J. Colligan by The University of Chicago Press.  Dr. Walter Johnson was chairman of the Department of History at the University of Chicago and served on the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1947 to 1954 and as chairman of the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1950 to 1953.  Dr. Francis J. Colligan served as the executive secretary of the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1948 to 1957.  Given Johnson and Colligan’s involvement and leadership roles on the Board of Foreign Scholarships during its initial years of existence it is not surprising that J. William Fulbright himself wrote the foreward to this book.  This book provides an in depth historical analysis of the first twenty years of the Fulbright program.  The book is sub-divided into four distinct parts titled “Launching the Program,” “The Program Around the World,” “The American People and the Program,” and “The Significance of the Program.”  In addition, there are four appendices that are worthy of review.  The first two appendices provide the text of The Fulbright Act of 1946 and The Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, respectively.  The third appendix provides fellowship data from the current fellowship cycle of the Fulbright-Hays Program (1963 to 1964) and historical data through 1962.  This appendix on fellowship data is important to include in a book on the history of the Fulbright program but I feel the authors could have presented much more data and in a better format.  The final appendix provides a listing of all the members, executive secretaries and chief of operations staff from of the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1946 to 1965.

Johnson and Colligan provide the most thorough history of the Fulbright program than any of the other publications read for this analysis.  Johnson and Colligan begin presenting the history of the Fulbright program by describing the state of international educational exchange as far back the 1890’s through the early decades of the twentieth century.  The history of the Fulbright program can easily be told by starting with the end of World War II and the signing of The Fulbright Act of 1946.  Johnson and Colligan, however, enhance one’s understanding of the Fulbright program by providing details about the previous fifty years of international educational exchange in the United States as well as on other national and international events that laid the foundation for Senator J. William Fulbright to introduce his bill in September 1945 which paved the way for creation of the Fulbright program.  This type of historical analysis would be expected from Johnson who was a historian by training.  Johnson and Colligan consult a significant number of both primary and secondary sources to supplement their personal knowledge of the Fulbright program and to inform their research.  A review of the footnotes and “Bibliographical Comment” section of the book provides the reader with a better understanding of the accuracy of Johnson and Colligan’s writings.  They were informed authors and it was an excellent read.

Full Citation:
Johnson, W., & Colligan, F.J.  (1965).  The Fulbright program: A history.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press.


  1. It seems interesting to me that something so groundbreaking could make it through congress at a time when foreign relations were strained at best. It’s a shame that kind of American enthusiasm about expanding possibilities doesn’t always play out these days.

  2. I don't feel all hope is lost regarding possibilities aboard. I recently read an article about a partnership between universities in Qatar and a college in Texas.

  3. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.