When the late Senator J. William Fulbright sponsored legislation establishing the prestigious Fulbright Program, which was signed into law by President Truman on August 1, 1946, he saw a world devastated by war and awed by its newly acquired atomic power. Remembering his own overseas experience as a Rhodes Scholar, the young Senator reasoned that people and nations had to learn to think globally if the world was to avoid annihilation. He believed that if large numbers of people lived and studied in other countries, "they might develop a capacity for empathy, distaste for killing other men, and an inclination for peace".
What is most unique about this program is that it has established a global system of binational exchanges, each between the United States and a partner nation. There are 51 Binational Commissions, of which Jordan is one, administering the Fulbright Program around the world.
True binationalism was a primary objective of Senator Fulbright. "I had not wanted this to be an American program," he wrote."In each country, binational commissions were to develop the kind of program that made sense to them what kinds of students or teachers and professors should be selected, what kind of research work."
Today, the Fulbright Program, world-wide, is being administered by the United States Department of State, in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Congress has created the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which is composed of 12 presidentially-appointed members drawn from academic, cultural and public life, in order to establish policy guidelines for the educational exchange program.
From the outset, the Fulbright Program has been truly "academic", with respect for the freedom and integrity that should characterize scholarly and intellectual discourse within and across national boundaries. The Fulbright Program has produced several generations of leaders with broadened vision in the sciences, the arts, education, literature, business, the media, and government. In a human sense, it has touched the lives of nearly a quarter million Fulbrighters and, through them, and the students and colleagues they touched, brought greater understanding between the U.S. and other nations around the world.
This system has so far enabled nearly a quarter of a million people from the United States and 140 other countries to live and study in another country, while more than 120,000 foreign nationals have taught, studied or done research in the U.S., and more than 90,000 Americans have gone overseas to do the same.
"Our future is not in the stars but in our minds and hearts. Creative leadership and liberal education, which in fact go together, are the first requirements for a hopeful future for humankind. Fostering these ... leadership, learning, and empathy between cultures ... was and remains the purpose of the international scholarship program."
J. William Fulbright