This summer 500 Africans are studying business, leadership, and public management on American campuses as part of a new State Department program.
The Obama administration has hailed the effort, which is part of the larger Young African Leaders Initiative, as a fresh take on public diplomacy. But the fellowship program—or really the strategy behind it—has generated a debate about the future of U.S.-sponsored exchanges and whether a venerable program, the Fulbright, will suffer as a result.
Under President Obama’s proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year, exchange programs operated by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs would receive a slight increase—1.6 percent. The African-leadership program would receive $20-million, and a similar program focused on Southeast Asia would receive $10-million. The Fulbright Program, however, would be cut by $30.5-million, representing a 13-percent reduction from its current allocation of $234.7-million.
Fulbright alumni and others have decried the potential cut in the department’s flagship exchange, calling it shortsighted, a potential blow to international research, and a negative message to the foreign governments that contribute money to the program. <Read more.>