Some of you may have heard that the U.S. State Department is threatening to cut $30 million from the Fulbright budget. This figure amounts to .06 percent of the proposed State Department budget—in other words, it’s peanuts—and yet it would devastate programs in countries such as Denmark. And lest you think the Fulbright is just some junket for tenured professors, the 10 or so Fulbright scholars currently here with me in Denmark are doing innovative research only made possible by being a Fulbright in Denmark.
A few examples:
Some my colleagues are studying facets of wind power, Denmark being the perfect place for such research since it is arguably the most advanced nation in the world when it comes to wind power and other alternative energies. One Fulbrighter is studying how the Danes use alternative energy markets, and another is studying how wind turbines might more efficiently harness wind with the aid of radar technologies that can detect wind gusts before they reach the turbine. Another Fulbright scholar is learning about Danish design for the disabled, since Scandinavians take a more participatory approach to design. Two of my colleagues have spent time in Greenland, one conducting research on how various forms of fish respond to warming waters, and another on nursing and nutrition among those indigenous to the artic region. Closer to our realm of the humanities, another scholar is studying how Danish modern artists saw their work as a form of resistance to the Nazi occupation during World War II. And another is studying Kierkegaard and his pedagogy of anxiety—of how he thought anxiety was something good for learning, something to embrace.
In short, aside from all of the other really important benefits of the Fulbright program—Senator William Fulbright created the program in 1945 on the belief that it would create mutual understanding between cultures—the budget cuts threaten the future of a lot of really important research that has the potential to make our lives better. If you’re inclined to agree with me that the Fulbright is worth saving, please sign the Save Fulbright petition, write your representatives, and pass the word.
I should note that my experience living and teaching US history at a Danish university has been simply amazing. I wrote about my first impressions back in September, and I will write more here soon.
* The views here are my own and do not represent the views of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.