J. William Fulbright Quotes
Senator Fulbright on International Exchange
Selected quotations by J. William Fulbright on international educational exchange:
- "International educational exchange is the most significant current project designed to continue the process of humanizing mankind to the point, we would hope, that men can learn to live in peace--eventually even to cooperate in constructive activities rather than compete in a mindless contest of mutual destruction....We must try to expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy and perception, and there is no way of doing that except through education." [From remarks on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Fulbright Program, 1976]
- "Perhaps the greatest power of such intellectual exchange is to convert nations into peoples and to translate ideologies into human aspirations. To continue to build more weapons, especially more exotic and unpredictable machines of war, will not build trust and confidence. The most sensible way to do that is to engage the parties in joint ventures for mutually constructive and beneficial purposes, such as trade, medical research, and development of cheaper energy sources. To formulate and negotiate agreements of this kind requires well-educated people leading or advising our government. To this purpose the Fulbright program is dedicated." [From remarks on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Fulbright Program, 1986]
- "Our future is not in the stars but in our own minds and hearts. Creative leadership and liberal education, which in fact go together, are the first requirements for a hopeful future for humankind. Fostering these--leadership, learning, and empathy between cultures--was and remains the purpose of the international scholarship program that I was privileged to sponsor in the U.S. Senate over forty years ago. It is a modest program with an immodest aim--the achievement in international affairs of a regime more civilized, rational and humane than the empty system of power of the past. I believed in that possibility when I began. I still do." [From The Price of Empire]
- "Of all the joint ventures in which we might engage, the most productive, in my view, is educational exchange. I have always had great difficulty--since the initiation of the Fulbright scholarships in 1946--in trying to find the words that would persuasively explain that educational exchange is not merely one of those nice but marginal activities in which we engage in international affairs, but rather, from the standpoint of future world peace and order, probably the most important and potentially rewarding of our foreign-policy activities." [From The Price of Empire]
- "There is nothing obscure about the objectives of educational exchange. Its purpose is to acquaint Americans with the world as it is and to acquaint students and scholars from many lands with America as it is--not as we wish it were or as we might wish foreigners to see it, but exactly as it is--which by my reckoning is an "image" of which no American need be ashamed.
- "The Program further aims to make the benefits of American culture and technology available to the world and to enrich American life by exposing it to the science and art of many societies.
- "Finally, the Program aims, through these means, to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship." [From the Foreword of The Fulbright Program: A History]
- "The exchange program is the thing that reconciles me to all the difficulties of political life. It's the only activity that gives me some hope that the human race won't commit suicide, though I still wouldn't count on it." [From The New Yorker, May 10, 1958]
- "The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy--the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately. The simple purpose of the exchange program...is to erode the culturally rooted mistrust that sets nations against one another. The exchange program is not a panacea but an avenue of hope...." [From The Price of Empire]
- "I have thought of everything I can think of, and the one thing that gives me some hope is the ethos that underlies the educational exchange program. That ethos, in sum, is the belief that international relations can be improved, and the danger of war significantly reduced, by producing generations of leaders, especially in the big countries, who through the experience of educational exchange, will have acquired some feeling and understanding of other peoples' cultures--why they operate as they do, why they think as they do, why they react as they do--and of the differences among these cultures. It is possible--not very probable, but possible--that people can find in themselves, through intercultural education, the ways and means of living together in peace." [From The Price of Empire]
- "It is in a way a mystery that, instead of demanding that their governments give primary attention to their own needs and aspirations, most of the citizens of big countries--those, that is, that have the status of being "powers" in the world--far from being self-centered or materialistic as they are commonly credited with being, the ordinary citizen and his elected representative all too often turn out to be romantics, ready and eager to sacrifice programs of health, education and welfare for the power and pride of the nation....
- "Education is the best means--probably the only means--by which nations can cultivate a degree of objectivity about each other's behavior and intentions. It is the means by which Russians and Americans can come to understand each others' aspirations for peace and how the satisfactions of everyday life may be achieved.....
- "Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations. Man's capacity for decent behavior seems to vary directly with his perception of others as individual humans with human motives and feelings, whereas his capacity for barbarism seems related to his perception of an adversary in abstract terms, as the embodiment, that is, of some evil design or ideology." [Speech to the Council on International Educational Exchange, 1983]
- "....Man's struggle to be rational about himself, about his relationship to his own society and to other peoples and nations involves a constant search for understanding among all peoples and all cultures--a search that can only be effective when learning is pursued on a worldwide basis." [From the Foreword of The Fulbright Program: A History]
- "The preservation of our free society in the years and decades to come will depend ultimately on whether we succeed or fail in directing the enormous power of human knowledge to the enrichment of our own lives and the shaping of a rational and civilized world order....It is the task of education, more than any other instrument of foreign policy to help close the dangerous gap between the economic and technological interdependence of the people of the world and their psychological, political and spiritual alienation." [From Prospects for the West]
- "With respect to the creation of the program, I introduced the bill in September 1945, immediately after the end of the war with Japan, in August of that year. A number of considerations, of course, entered into my decision to introduce the bill, growing from my own experience as a Rhodes scholar and the experiences our government had had with the first World War debts, [Herbert] Hoover’s efforts in establishing the Belgian-American Education Foundation after World War I, [and] the Boxer Rebellion indemnity." [from a letter to Stephen Sestanovich, February 7, 1979.]
- "My experience as a Rhodes scholar was the dominant influence in the creation of the Fulbright awards. Coming, as I did from an interior section of our country, quite remote and isolated from foreign association, the Rhodes scholarship probably made a more vivid impact on me than it did on some of my colleagues from metropolitan areas. That experience, together with the devastation of the second World War and the existence of large uncollectible foreign credits, resulted in the bill creating the scholarships...The recipients of these awards may be considered as grandchildren of Cecil Rhodes, scattered throughout the world.” [Sen. Fulbright in a letter to Frank Aydelotte, May 6, 1955]