On January 21, 2015, the U.S.-Iceland Fulbright Commission Executive Director Belinda Theriault and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Arctic Section Head Eric Salzman signed an agreement for their respective organizations to collaborate in supporting Arctic research in Iceland. This is the first collaboration of its kind between the Fulbright Program and NSF, an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.
This agreement reflects the importance of the Arctic to the United States. As President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have both affirmed, a secure and well-managed Arctic, marked by international cooperation, is a key priority of the United States. The United States and Iceland have collaborated in mutually beneficial ways for decades, including in international educational exchange through the Fulbright Program, and now on Arctic research.
The U.S.-Iceland Fulbright Commission and NSF will embark on a three-year pilot program that coincides with the United States’ Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Under the agreement, U.S. students and scholars will have an opportunity to apply for grants for Arctic-related projects in a variety of social and natural science fields.
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan and Iceland’s Ambassador to the United States Geir A. Haarde both spoke at the signing ceremony. Assistant Secretary Ryan noted that “this special initiative with NSF and the nation of Iceland complements the State Department’s new Fulbright Arctic Initiative that will support a team of scholars and researchers from the Arctic Council countries to research and assess the impact of change in the Arctic and engage in collaborative thinking, analysis and problem solving.”
The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 360 thousand participants from more than 155 countries with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.