German and American Fulbright Scholars Visit U of A to 'Build Bridges'

A section of the Berlin Wall
Photos Courtesy of the Fulbright Program

A section of the Berlin Wall

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – German and American Fulbright scholars and guests will convene on the University of Arkansas campus May 17-19 for a conference aimed at understanding the trajectory of trans-Atlantic ties and the future of international cooperation.

The conference, “Building Bridges: The Fulbright Legacy and the Future of International Exchange,” is part of the “Wunderbar Together” campaign sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany. It is co-sponsored by the German-American Fulbright Commission and the University of Arkansas International and Global Studies Program and Office of Study Abroad. It will cap a year of commemorative events on both sides of the Atlantic celebrating German-American cooperation.

To kick off this final event, groups of German scholars studying in the United States – accompanied by American former grantees of Fulbright Awards – will complete weeklong road trips from Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Austin exploring middle America and ending in Fayetteville, the home of Sen. J. William Fulbright, founder of the Fulbright Program and namesake of the U of A’s J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. 

During the May 17-19 conference, scholars, road trip participants and local Fulbright Program supporters will speak on a range of international issues focused on “Building Bridges,” from the legacy of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the role of migrant communities in the U.S. and Germany today.

Additionally, experts from Fulbright Germany, Fulbright Austria, the University of Arkansas and Oklahoma State University will reflect on the personal and global impacts of international exchanges on American public diplomacy and foreign policy since the end of the World War II.

The U of A’s University Libraries will also offer a special display of highlights from Sen. Fulbright’s senatorial papers, founding documents from the Fulbright Program, and photographs of Fulbrighters at work.

A full conference schedule can be found online, and highlights of conference offerings that are free and open to the public include:

  • Concurrent Exhibition: The Fulbright Papers 
    11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Mullins Library, Special Collections
    An open house opportunity for guests to explore highlights from these collections, including Fulbright’s senatorial papers, founding documents from the Fulbright Program, and photographs of Fulbrighters at work.
  • The Times they are a-Changin’: Fulbright’s Impact on Transatlantic Ties 
    9:15 - 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at Vol Walker Hall
    Moderator: DeDe Long, director of Study Abroad and International Exchange at University of Arkansas
  • Open Doors of Internationalism?
    11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Vol Walker Hall
    Moderator: Oliver Schmidt, executive director of Fulbright Germany. Featuring: Alessandro Brogi, professor of history and director of undergraduate studies at University of Arkansas; Laura Belmonte, professor of history and associate dean at Oklahoma State University.
  • On and Off the Road to Fayetteville: Making Sense after a Week-Long Road Trip across the U.S. Heartland
    2 - 2:45 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Vol Walker Hall
  • World Café on Citizen Ambassadorship
    2:45 - 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Vol Walker Hall
    Participants of Fulbright Germany’s road trip through the U.S. Heartland.
  • Keynote and Plenary Discussion: "Die Mauer muss weg!" ("The Wall must go!"): Remembering the Berlin Wall
    4 - 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Vol Walker Hall
    Hope M. Harrison, associate professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University.
  • Divisions, Connections, Transgressions
    9:30 - 11:15 a.m. Sunday, May 19, at Vol Walker Hall
    Moderator: Sara Kouchehbagh, Department of Geosciences at University of Arkansas. Featuring: Kathleen Condray, German program head and associate professor of German at University of Arkansas.
  • Closing Remarks: Multiple legacies, global impact – J. William Fulbright and the Promise of Transnational Exchange
    12 - 12:15 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Vol Walker Hall
    Curt Rom, associate dean of international education at University of Arkansas; and Oliver Schmidt, executive director of Fulbright Germany.

Hoyt Purvis, professor emeritus of journalism, who served as Fulbright’s press secretary and special assistant, said Sen. Fulbright would be proud to see the conference being hosted at the U of A.

“On several occasions Sen. Fulbright said that he was happy to have lived long enough to see the fall of the wall,” Purvis said. “He also saw the ‘Fulbright’ name on the wall as it was coming down on that celebratory night in Berlin in 1989.”

Purvis said that Fulbright’s own experience as a Rhodes Scholar was a powerful force in his determination to establish the exchange program, as he believed that people and nations had to learn to think globally.

About the International and Global Studies Program: Founded in 1998, the International and Global Studies Program within the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences carries on Sen. Fulbright’s commitment to international understanding and “peace through education.” It fosters the interdisciplinary study of exchanges, networks and relationships within the international and global community. The program offers a robust teaching component for undergraduates centered on intercultural training, international experiences, and participation in academic research and outreach activities.

About Fulbright Germany: The Fulbright Program has been an especially important component of ties between Germany and the United States. Enabling American and German students, scholars, teachers and professionals to experience each other’s communities and culture firsthand has offered critical support to continued German-American diplomacy.

About the Office of Study Abroad: The University of Arkansas’ Office of Study Abroad facilitates opportunities for our students to study, research or gain practical experience outside of the United States in order to learn, grow and achieve a global perspective.

About the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with three schools, 16 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students and is named for J. William Fulbright, former university president and longtime U.S. senator.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations

Andra Parrish Liwag, executive director of strategic communications
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences


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