Alum Magda Maaoui attends the 42nd Fulbright Association Annual Conference

Magda Maaoui, 2016-2017 Fulbright Foreign Student grantee (PhD at Columbia University)

The Washington, D.C. Advocacy Day

From Thursday, October 24th to Saturday, October 26th, the Fulbright Association 42nd Annual Conference attendees gathered in Arlington, Virginia to celebrate the motto “Connecting Minds and Hearts for Global Change”.

PhD Candidate in Urban Planning and Fulbright alum Magda Maaoui was sent there thanks to the Franco-American Fulbright Commission. She attended what was a true epitome of the Foundation’s mission, and she reports on some of its highlights.

While Advocacy Day allowed participants to witness live what it entails to defend the program at the Capitol, it also showed how support for it still stems from a guarantee of bipartisan political support for intellectual freedom. Days of talks and roundtables that followed were also an opportunity to witness the type of research that is produced through the Foundation’s support.

Picture 1 : Plenary roundtables addressed the necessity to fuel policy advocacy in favor of the program through mixed-methods research.

Beside grounded research projects, participants reflected on how valuable it is to measure the impact of intellectual exchange through oral history, focus groups, surveys and randomized experiments. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis are the medium par excellence that can attest to sustainable impacts over time. Findings can then be used by board members, Chapter leaders, grantees and alumni as they act as thinkers, researchers and advocates for the Foundation.

Picture 2: The Lifetime Achievement Award was granted this year to NPR journalist Melissa Block, architect and former Dean of Columbia GSAPP James S. Polchek, and President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

As a bonus, Magda Maaoui interviewed two distinguished speakers whose research projects precisely fuel what is at the heart of the Foundation’s Advocacy Day.

Dr. Suzanne McBride, Associate Professor of Journalism and Chair of the Department of Communication at Columbia College in Chicago, argued for the importance of Fulbright-supported programs in helping produce good journalism. She has worked as a journalist for more than three decades, and has launched two local news web sites – ChicagoTalks and AustinTalks – which have been honored by the country’s leading journalism organizations and featured the work of hundreds of Columbia students. During her time as a Fulbright Scholar in Ireland, she researched online journalism and taught local news reporting at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Dr. Alessandro Brogi, Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences in Arkansas, focused on the importance of the personal path of Sen. Fulbright in building the Foundation, and provided a critical history lens to remind us of how the Foundation came to be. Dr. Brogi specializes in the transatlantic history of the Cold War, and recently co-published the book The Legacy of J. William Fulbright: Policy, Power, and Ideology (2019, University Press of Kentucky, with Giles Scott-Smith and David J. Snyder).

Three questions were asked to them:

  • What are you advocating for today?
  • How does the Fulbright Foundation help you achieve this goal?
  • If you had one advice for our fellow Fulbrighters that is derived from your experience, what would it be?

Click on the names below to listen to their answers:

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