To address the complex and international dimensions of the diversity debates within Fulbright, and aiming at practical results for all the stakeholders involved, the European Fulbright Commissions established the European Fulbright Diversity Initiative (EFDI).
With support from the Department of State, a number of vocal Fulbright activists and Fulbright professionals gathered in Berlin for the 1st European Diversity Roundtable Workshop on May 18, 2018. By collecting information, questions, concerns, and perspectives from Fulbright students, scholars, English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and alumni, this kick-off workshop provided a first discussion baseline for the EFDI pilot. The process will lead up to a working Diversity Conference in September 2018 and a Diversity Symposium in the spring of 2019.
Coordinated by EFDI team, six task forces have begun working on specific aspects of diversity in the Fulbright realm aiming to develop a sustainable Fulbright diversity strategy. This joint effort involves American and European grantees, alumni, as well as the Executive Directors (EDs) and staff of European Fulbright Commissions. Taking into account individual experiences, the task forces seek to establish action plans to foster diversity, inclusion and equity in the Fulbright community. EFDI includes the institutional perspectives to furthermore create a platform for dialogue, generate synergies, exchange knowledge, foster networking activities, and jointly advice Fulbright as well as its stakeholders and partners on issues dealing with diversity, inclusion and equity. Task forces work independently but in close consultation with EFDI coordination. Each working group appoints a coordinator and deputy who join the Task Force Steering Committee. They will present preliminary results and strategies for the EFDI process at the International Diversity Conference in Berlin in September.
To make the EFDI truly European and to establish a working governance structure, EFDI coordination invited all European EDs to form an EFDI committee. The tasks of the committee are to identify and monitor potential risks, advise task forces as well as define and help achieve the project outcomes (e.g., recommend improvements for pre-departure materials, orientation meetings and briefings which are better tailored to diverse needs).
An additional EFDI Advisory Board will be established to get input from diversity experts and other knowledgeable individuals to improve processes and outcomes. Outside contributors are nominated by the task forces or others involved in the EFDI process and are approved by the EFDI committee’s majority vote.
In summary, the EFDI process will facilitate the exchange of experiences, analyses and recommendations to foster a more diverse and inclusive culture at Fulbright. We are convinced that, by working together in this European Fulbright project, we will be able to share best practices amongst various Fulbright Commissions and utilize existing synergies in the diversity discussion. By including Fulbright grantees, alumni, EDs, staff, as well as external contributors in the process, we ensure a comprehensive approach.