About the Authors: Jamie Lawrence and Jerry Doran serve in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
In January, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) established an official LinkedIn group for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Government's flagship international educational exchange program. The group includes nine subgroups organized by academic and professional fields.
The response has been impressive: 3,000 members joined in the first three weeks. The group is an active forum for past, current and future Fulbright participants from around the world to connect on a professional level around the fields of their interest.
The LinkedIn group is the latest way ECA is using social media to expand the Fulbright Program's reach and engage with our communities. These platforms support the purpose of the Fulbright's Program - to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
Other Fulbright Program social media initiatives include:
- An official Fulbright Facebook page, allowing the Fulbright community to stay connected, ask questions, read news about Fulbrighters and share links. Over 17,000 Facebook users "like" the Fulbright Program, making it one of the most popular State Department Facebook pages.
- A Fulbright Program Vimeo channel featuring Fulbright testimonials and informational clips on program developments. From the videos, Fulbright applicants can learn more about the Fulbright experience and get application tips from current participants and alumni.
- Twitter feeds for Fulbright U.S. Students and Fulbright U.S. Scholars, which compliment the international exchange information Tweeted by ECA's Assistant Secretary Ann Stock.
Fulbright also hosts communities on two State Department-sponsored social media platforms: State Alumni and ExchangesConnect. Administered by ECA, membership in ExchangesConnect is open to anyone interested in international exchanges. Fulbright maintains a profile page and group page. The State Alumni website is a community exclusively for current and former grantees of U.S. government-sponsored exchanges. Fulbright on State Alumni allows Fulbrighters to find fellow alumni, share ideas, and learn about jobs and alumni activities in their communities.
The late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, author of the Fulbright legislation, said, "Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations." The effective use of social media platforms helps to meet the Fulbright program's mutual understanding goals by engaging our global community, promoting collaboration and amplifying the Fulbright people-to-people exchange experience.
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by ECA, is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. Since 1946, more than 300,000 Fulbrighters from over 155 countries have participated in the program.