In the wake of highly controversial bailouts aimed at bolstering our struggling economy over the past few years, I found it bitterly ironic that news of this year’s cancelled Fulbright-Hays DDRA funding precipitated this move by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Now some of the world’s most heavyweight philanthropists are bailing out the federal government? Strange days indeed. It’s been a week since I heard this, and still I’m not sure what to think. Is it yet another move toward the privatization of virtually everything? Can it be as temporary as Mellon and IIE claim it is?
One thing’s for sure: I couldn’t agree more with the Mellon Foundation that international language and area studies funding constitutes “an important investment in the nation’s intellectual infrastructure.” With that in mind, let me put forth some unabashedly partisan encouragement on this matter. I hope with these benevolent grant makers for wiser decisions in coming years, I urge readers to contact their relevant representatives urging them toward the restoration of Fulbright-Hays programs, and I applaud the Mellon Foundation’s efforts to mitigate the devastation that these cuts foist upon doctoral candidates whose research promises a brighter future for the nation and the world. Given the federal government’s recent heavy investment in “critical languages,” this about-face for grant funding comes as a shock. Here’s hoping the cuts can be perceived as a senseless deviation from smart policy and swiftly corrected for the 2012-2013 funding and subsequent cycles.