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The role of international educational exchanges in public diplomacy

Abstract

What follows is an analysis of the role of international educational exchanges in public diplomacy. The overall argument is that international educational exchanges have an important role to play in public diplomacy, particularly because face-to-face contact between nationals of different countries helps to diminish stereotypes and ultimately facilitates inter-cultural communication. Yet it will be held that it is less evident or certain that the host country's foreign policy will be cast in a favourable light because of international educational exchanges. The first section of the paper aims to develop a conceptual framework of the subject matter and discusses the concepts of public diplomacy and international educational exchange. The penultimate section analyses the role of international educational exchanges in public diplomacy. Finally, the last section consists of a case study of the Fulbright Exchange Programme and its role in American public diplomacy.

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Notes

  1. This article is based on a dissertation that was submitted by the author in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Diplomacy, Law and Global Change. Coventry University, UK (September, 2006). This piece of work was awarded a distinction mark and was chiefly supported by the Programme ALBAN, the European Union Programme of High Level Scholarships for Latin America, scholarship no. E05M050036BR.

  2. The Fulbright Exchange Programme is the official American governmental programme of international educational exchange. In 2004 the US Department of State contributed with US$148,301,000 in order to help finance the programme. See J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board (2004: 49).

  3. The concept of soft power was originally developed by Joseph Nye in ‘Bound to Lead’, a book published in 1990, which discussed the then-prevalent view that the US was in decline (Nye, 2004b: xi).

  4. Traditionally, military force would determine which state was more powerful. Power resources were indeed easily measured, particularly because they were habitually appreciated in terms of ‘strength for war’. In this instance, during the 17th and 18th centuries, power was measured in terms of territory and population, especially because the latter corresponded to more taxes and a bigger infantry. During the 19th century, however, power was measured in terms of industry and the transport system that developed from it chiefly because railways, for example, tended to facilitate the transport of soldiers and weaponry (Nye, 2004b cited in Held and Koenig-Archibugi, 2004: 118).

  5. The French Alliance: http://www.alliancefr.org/ and German Academic Exchange Service: http://www.daad.de, respectively.

  6. It was Willy Brandt (German Foreign Minister in 1966) who introduced the term ‘third pillar of foreign policy’ when referring to international educational and cultural relations. It is third because it comes after politics and trade (Mitchell, 1986: 1). Coombs (1964), however, calls it ‘the fourth dimension of foreign policy’, fourth because it accompanies politics, trade and defence.

  7. Consider, for example, the Socrates-Erasmus Programme that seeks to enhance the notion of a European dimension of higher education via cooperation and exchange between universities. For more information, refer to website http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/socrates/erasmus/erasmus_en.html.

  8. It is worth noting, however, that each of the participants of an exchange arrangement will be guided by different and sometimes incongruous interests. For students, for example, the guiding rationale could be the fulfilment of professional/personal objectives or an attempt to be more qualified for an increasing international market. Universities may be, at the same time, concerned with the introduction of an international/intercultural dimension in its teaching and research (Jenkins, 1977: 1513; de Wit, 2002: 84).

  9. Culture is more complicated to define since it means different things in different languages. In German, for example, Kultur refers to a sense of preciosity or a nation's soul, which is more associated with the intellect and the arts. In English, culture is related to a way of life, or the set of customs, beliefs and values of a given country or group (Mitchell, 1986: 8).

  10. The use of ‘student’, ‘international student’, or ‘exchange student’ will be preferred for a matter of convenience, since those are the most common participants of international exchange programmes. However, the author is aware that other persons could also be involved in international educational exchanges, such as scholars, teachers, lecturers or researchers.

  11. It is acknowledged that both men and women can be exchange students. The use of ‘he’ and other masculine pronouns are just for convenience and ease of reading and shall be taken to mean female gender where appropriate.

  12. UKCOSA (United Kingdom Council for Overseas Students Affairs) http://www.ukcosa.org.uk/; Nuffic (Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education): http://www.nuffic.nl/.

  13. For information about the Rhodes scholarship, visit http://www.rhodesscholar.org/.

  14. The Fulbright Programme was created in 1946 and it is certainly the jewel in the crown of the American government in terms of international cultural and educational relations. As a matter of fact, in almost 60 years of operation, approximately 267,500 ‘Fulbrighters’ have been exchanged (100,900 from the United States and 166,600 from other countries) and at present the programme reaches over 150 countries, awarding 6,000 new grants annually for the exchange of primary and secondary school teachers; college and university teachers; college, undergraduate and graduate students; advanced researchers at the postdoctoral or corresponding level; and administrators and professionals in a multiplicity of fields. Although we speak of The Fulbright Programme, there are in fact ten programmes of educational exchange and technical assistance that are administered under the auspices of the US Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs and that are associated with the Fulbright Programme. A historical account of the Fulbright Programme can be found in Johnson and Colligan (1965). An overview of the programme is available on the official website http://exchanges.state.gov/education/fulbright/. General information can also be found in annual reports.

  15. The United States first included an educational-cultural dimension in its foreign policy in the 1930s, mainly to counter Nazi cultural offensive in Latin America. The Convention for the Promotion of Inter-American Cultural Relations, concluded at Buenos Aires in 1936, is an example of that. See Coombs (1964: 23) and de Wit (2002: 24).

  16. An example of this idealism can be found in Allaway (1994).

  17. Fulbright once said that Russians have attacked the programme as being a clever propaganda scheme (Schneider, 2003: 3).

  18. The Fulbright Board is composed of 12 members appointed by the president of the United States. The Board is responsible for setting worldwide policies and procedures for administration, as well as for supervising the operation of the programme both in the US and abroad. For more information refer to Fulbright Programme website http://exchanges.state.gov/education/fulbright/.

  19. Full information on The Fulbright Scholar Programme and The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Programme is available on the Fulbright Programme website http://exchanges.state.gov/education/fulbright/.

  20. For example, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was in office from January 1995 until January 2003. He was also awarded the Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

  21. The list of former Fulbrighters who were awarded the Nobel Prize can be found at http://www.iie.org/fulbrightweb/fulbNotes_NPW.htm.

  22. The increase in budget was continuous from 2001 to 2004, as shown in the Fulbright Annual Reports of 2002 and 2003.

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Correspondence to Antônio F de Lima Jr.

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Lima, A. The role of international educational exchanges in public diplomacy. Place Brand Public Dipl 3, 234–251 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.pb.6000066

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Keywords

  • International educational exchange
  • public diplomacy
  • Fulbright Exchange Programme