European Fulbright Diversity Initiative (EFDI)

The European Fulbright Diversity Initiative (EFDI) was founded in May 2018: In partnership, 23 European Fulbright commissions – supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State – established this initiative to address the complex and international dimensions of diversity within the Fulbright realm. Grantees, alumni, staff, and executive directors alike have contributed to this collaborative effort. What started as a bottom-up initiative driven by the diverse experiences of Fulbright grantees has since evolved into a communal effort now moving even beyond the European to a global dimension.

EFDI aims to:

  • Initiate a process to encourage and enhance diversity in all procedures at Fulbright,
  • Strengthen Fulbright's overall attractiveness to people from all backgrounds,
  • Advise and inform key stakeholders on the interrelatedness of diversity, inclusion, and equity as it directly relates to studying abroad,
  • Foster networking activities between different (European) Fulbright commissions,
  • Create diversity platforms upon which knowledge can be transferred and dialogues can occur.

Milestones thus far have included:

  • The 1st EFDI Roundtable Workshop in Berlin on May 18, 2018, brought together a number of Fulbright grantees, alumni, and Fulbright professionals with the support of the Department of State to discuss ways forward in promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity. As a result of the 1st EFDI Roundtable Workshop in Berlin, six task forces formed to research current practices across Fulbright Europe and collect suggestions on how to further promote diversity, inclusion, and equity within the Fulbright lifecycle – so from advertising of programs via selection process and orientation to grantee experience in the host country. 80 participants (including Fulbright executive directors, staff, grantees, and alumni) from 23 European countries and the US worked together on these Fulbright-related topics.
  • The International Diversity Conference in September 2018 marked a crucial step in articulating a European commitment, with over 180 Fulbrighters convening in Berlin to gather expert input on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity and discussing how this can be promoted within Fulbright.
  • The 2nd EFDI Roundtable Workshop in Sofia, hosted by the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission in February 2019, gave task forces room for exchange and articulated results. This included reports from task forces and student initiatives as well as presentations about diversity practices at the Bulgarian and Austrian commissions. Such discussions illustrated that Fulbright’s work on diversity had advanced considerably since the EFDI Conference in Berlin.
  • The 2019 Berlin Seminar in March served as a focal point to discuss some of the more general suggestions developed by EFDI task forces and also gave the EFDI Expert Council the opportunity to meet and assess the recommendations made by task forces.
  • At the end of this 2018/19 pilot phase, the non-binding recommendations were discussed at the European meeting of executive directors in Salzburg in April 2019.
  • The discussion was expanded to include the global dimension at the meeting of Fulbright executive directors from across the world in DC in May 2019.

The work of EFDI has been supported by the EFDI committee, consisting of the Executive Directors of the European Fulbright Commissions, and by a global working group on diversity. An independent EFDI Advisory Board, comprised of diversity experts from various backgrounds, assesses and informs the work of EFDI.

The EFDI staff is made up of the Diversity Coordinator Susanne Hamscha (as of July 2019) and the Diversity Liaison Courtney Moffett-Bateau. Among others, they are consulted by commissions and posts that wish to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity within the Fulbright lifecycle (e.g. by implementing the non-binding recommendations of the task forces). Moreover, the EFDI team offers trainings for grantees and staff as well as incident support. Please reach out via diversity [a] fulbright.de.