Fulbrighters: Developing a Capacity for Empathy

Berkeley Has Been Central in Sending Forth, Hosting Recipients for Decades

In the 50 years since Congress approved the Fulbright international exchange program, the world has changed dramatically. And Berkeley, one of the most active universities in the program, can attest to that.

This year coming to study at Berkeley is an economist from Slovenia. Leaving Berkeley for the year is a graduate student doing a dissertation in the Ukraine. Both have Fulbright grants.

Neither country existed when Sen. William Fulbright convinced fellow lawmakers that an excellent way to make use of World War II debt that foreign countries owed the U.S. was to use these foreign credits for education.

Sen. Fulbright believed that if people lived and studied in other countries, "they might develop a capacity for empathy, a distaste for killing other men and an inclination for peace." Berkeley's Academic Senate awarded the senator the Clark Kerr Award in 1989.

Since the approval of Public Law 584 in 1946 and the broadened Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, more than 31,000 American scholars have received grants to lecture and conduct research in countries around the globe, and many thousands more have come to the U.S. to study in programs sponsored jointly by the Fulbright Program and their home countries.

At Berkeley, the Graduate Fellowships Office, the Graduate Deans' Office and individual departments administer programs that fall under the Fulbright umbrella. Each year, Berkeley scholars and professional staff travel abroad and the campus hosts visiting scholars.

Graduating seniors and graduate students not working on their dissertations travel under one program while those writing their doctoral dissertations travel under another.

This year, for example, Law Professor James Gordley received a Fulbright grant to spend three months in Italy lecturing on comparative private law, while Stephanie Pincetl, a fellow in the geography department, is doing research in Paris and in Los Angeles; and Scott McElhinney, a study abroad adviser on campus, is spending a month in Japan lecturing on international education.

Five Berkeley graduate students are using Fulbright grants to work on dissertations in Vietnam, the Ukraine, India, Pakistan and China. And several dozen seniors and graduate students are studying abroad.

Fulbright grants provide funding for travel abroad and living expenses for the duration of the study or research period.

Among foreign scholars seeking approval to teach or do research at Berkeley in the coming year are a specialist in bilingual and multicultural education from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and scholars from Yonsei University in Korea, Warsaw University of Technology, Chiang Mai University in Thailand and the University of Bahrain, among others.

"Berkeley has always been a very special place for Fulbrighters," said Kate Leivia, manager of education services in the San Francisco office of the Institute of International Education. She praised the staff at Berkeley for its "wonderful professional support."

Berkeley scholars have praise for the program as well. History Professor Leon Litwack has twice been a

Fulbrighter. His first was at Moscow State University in 1980 for six months. He taught American history and found his Soviet students had "a fairly sophisticated understanding" of our history.

"It was an exhilarating experience in all respects," said Litwack. "I think back on that time with great warmth."

George Sensabaugh, professor of biomedical and environmental sciences in the School of Public Health, received a Fulbright award in 1993-94 to work with London's police laboratory doing leading DNA research. "London was the only place in the world" where all sexual assault crimes were carried through with DNA analysis, he said.

The Fulbright award came at a particularly welcome time for Sensabaugh. After five years as department chair during very difficult budget times, he said, the Fulbright grant gave him the opportunity to "re-enter the research mode" and "lay a foundation for where I'd like to go."

The application deadline for 1997-98 grants for U.S. faculty and professionals is Aug. 1. Starting dates are flexible and stays may range from two months to an academic year. These are administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. It has a World Wide Web site: http://www.cies.org/

The Fulbright Program, which has several events planned to celebrate its 50th anniversary, is funded and administered by the United States Information Agency. The presidentially appointed J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Formulates policy guidelines.


Copyright 1996, The Regents of the University of California.
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