News & Events

31 July 2023

Fulbright News: June-July

Welcome to our July bulletin and the latest news round up from the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Now half-way through our 75th anniversary year, we usher in a new era with significant changes to our board of trustees with the triennial rotation of chair leadership from US to UK commissioner. It’s with mixed emotions that we’re both thrilled to welcome our new Chair, Professor Sir David Eastwood, as well as pay tribute to the phenomenal contribution made by our outgoing Chair, Sara Grote Cerrell. July also represents a highpoint in the Commission calendar as we send our latest cohort of UK Fulbrighters off on their US awards, host our second UK University Virtual Fair and this year, welcome representatives from six continents to the inaugural international workshop on alumni engagement organised by the Fulbrighter Network team. ‘School’s out for… Summer!’ but the Commission remains in full bustle – read on for the full stories.

Honouring the honoured

With summer also comes the Royal Birthday Honours list and we were delighted to hear that Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Professor of Classics Education and Public Policy at Durham University, US-UK Fulbright alum and long-standing member of our Alumni Advisory Council, has been recognised for her services to education with an MBE. Arlene has been a champion of making Classics more widely available in state schools through a number of key initiatives, including by sharing her research with policymakers in the UK and worldwide. As a British Academy Innovation Fellow (2022-24), her research project entitled ‘Levelling-up through talk’ investigates how speech, communication and listening skills contribute to social mobility and employability.  Arlene’s multi-disciplinary project with colleagues in Psychology, Education and English, ‘Shy bairns get nowt’, is focused on helping young people in the North East of England to find and use their voice effectively. It’s wonderful to see Arlene’s work recognized with a well-deserved Royal Honour. To hear more, check out this short video.

Dancing to health

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, we were moved by news of Fulbright alumnus Román Baca’s Memorial Day performance with his dance company Exit12 onboard the aircraft carrier, Intrepid, moored on New York’s Hudson river. ‘Truths Colliding’ brings veterans, refugees and relations of military personnel lost to war or suicide together to share their stories and experiences of the effects of war through the medium of movement. As a dancer turned Marine, Román struggled to return to civilian life but found the healing power of the arts and unique expression of dance something he could share with others to help process trauma. “There’s something powerful that happens when a military-connected individual experiences the arts,” Román reflects. “I’ve seen the arts unite disparate populations in meaningful and tangible ways. I’ve seen it erode the borders between people. That’s what keeps me going.” Román undertook his Fulbright post-graduate award at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he completed his MFA with merit in choreography.  His thesis investigated methodologies of choregraphing soldiers’ stories to provoke empathy in audiences. For more on the powerful story behind ‘Truths Colliding’ watch this feature on NTD Good Morning and to watch the entire spellbinding performance, click to view on Vimeo.

The Fulbright summer junction

Back on UK turf, the months of June and July are characterised by a flurry of programme cohorts arriving and departing, with some embarking on exciting new journeys of discovery and others concluding their studies and reflecting on their Fulbright experience as they return to the US. 

The Commission’s UK Summer Institutes programme (UKSI) invites US undergraduates with limited experience of foreign travel to attend a three week ‘taster’ experience at one of five UK universities to provide a meaningful introduction to international education exchange and nurture appetite for future study abroad. Each Summer Institute host UK university offers a specific academic focus to their summer programme from “Identity and Nationhood” to “Technology and Innovation.” As the cohort attending University of Bristol’s UKSI prepared to return to the States, Commission staff paid a visit to hear about their experiences and how they engaged with the programme’s theme of Arts, Activism and Social Justice. Each participant shared their vision for a better future, leveraging the tools and knowledge they had acquired during the program. Their presentations covered a diverse range of topics, from making musical instruments available to all students to increasing voting access on campus. Participant Gregory Perryman remarked, "The world is vast, and complicated, and interesting, and learning how to engage with that is something that everyone should develop", a sentiment that aptly captures the spirit of the UK Summer Institutes.

More farewells took place at the end of June with our Endcap event at the University of Glasgow, where Fulbright grantees, staff and our host partners celebrated the achievements of our 2022-23 American postgraduates and scholars as they prepared to return to the US. Engaging in discussions on Scottish politics and culture with local experts and exploring the picturesque Loch Lomond, grantees reflected on the Fulbright experience together. True to Scottish tradition, the event culminated in a joyous Ceilidh featuring lots of energetic country dancing and traditional folk music. One of those in the cohort, Jay Garvey, was profiled in a recent news post where he shared how his research work on the exploration of queer and trans experiences in education took shape. To catch up on the post, read on here.

Embarking in the opposite direction of travel were our 2023-2024 cohort of UK Postgraduates and Scholars preparing for their academic journeys in the United States. At our recent UK Orientation event they engaged with alumni panels, learning about what to expect in the US. Grantees had the opportunity to share their research proposals, which encompass a diverse range of topics from understanding the tools music teachers need for success to investigating global sea level rise and expanding the horizons of traditional art history study. Orientation culminated with the Fulbright Summer Reception at the US Embassy in London, where new grantees connected with international alumni, fostering a sense of community and inspiring camaraderie across borders.

Dates for your diary

At the US-UK Fulbright Commission, we’re fortunate to work with some of the most prestigious academic institutions to stage thought-provoking, timely debate and discussion. On September 5th we host our annual Fulbright-Eccles Lecture in partnership with the British Library on the subject of ‘Disinformation in the 21st Century…and what to do about it’. Fulbright alumnus Mukul Devichand from the New York Times will chair a discussion between UK investigative journalist, Carole Cadwalladr and US media scholar and Fulbrighter Ethan Zuckerman.  For the full details and to book tickets, visit the British Library box office event page and for those of you who can’t join in person, the event will be livestreamed.

For those with an interest in undergraduate study in the US, our annual USA College Day takes place on September 23 & 24 in London at the ILEC Conference Centre. The largest US University fair in Europe, it’s a one-stop destination where it’s possible to gain an overview of options or drill into granular detail with the many US HEI’s exhibiting at the event.  Register here for more details.

While it seems we couldn’t be experiencing more contrasting seasons with stratospheric temperatures in the US rivalling possibly the most traditional of damp and soggy summers in the UK, it remains for us to send the most clement of greetings from the trustees and staff at the Commission.