AUSMIN 2019 – Fulbright Focus on Indo-Pacific

ASEAN flags

The Australian and U.S. governments announced a set of four new Fulbright Scholarships open to professionals from both countries, during the AUSMIN dialogue last month.

The new Fulbright Professional Scholarships in Indo-Pacific Studies aim at increasing academic analysis and thought on the Indo-Pacific, a region of priority for the Australia-U.S. alliance. Beneficiaries will advance scholarship in fields including strategic studies, international relations, security, good governance and economic/infrastructure development policy on a country, sub-region or theme within the Indo-Pacific region.

Image of Mike Pompeo and Marise Payne speaking at a joint press conference in Australia

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo referenced the new opportunities during his address on “The Unbreakable Alliance”:

“We’re encouraging some of our best and brightest towards the success in this region … Today I have the honour to announce the creation of four Indo-Pacific Fulbright Scholarships‒two funded by the United States and two funded by your great country‒to conduct research on the Indo-Pacific region.”

Assistant Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s U.S. and Canada Branch, Greg Wilcock was equally pleased with the initiative:

“DFAT of course considers the Indo-Pacific a region of utmost strategic importance, and we are glad that our counterparts at the State Department share this view. These new opportunities will significantly augment our capacity to foresee, understand, and act on future challenges that impact Australia and its neighbours.”

Noted alongside several initiatives focussing on ‘youth and the future’, the awards signal a new era of strategic bilateral initiatives, including plans to increase U.S. Congressional internship opportunities via the American Australian Association and United States Studies Centre, and a commitment to strengthening science, technology and innovation cooperation in emerging fields of artificial intelligence and quantum sciences, among others.

Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission, Thomas Dougherty welcomed the news.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer these new opportunities to foster talented young professionals of both countries in such critical areas of expertise.

“The geopolitical landscape of the Indo-Pacific now evolves faster than most of the conversations surrounding it, so it is crucial that we facilitate this research to keep policy-makers at both sides of the Pacific informed.”

The new awards will be open to applications from both Australian and U.S. candidates in February 2020.