Religious Studies

Fulbright Scholarships


These awards offer full support for a year of study or teaching in a foreign country. Research Fulbrights require a plan of study or research; Fulbrights in the creative or performing arts require documented artistic achievement; Fulbright teaching assistantships require an interest and ability in working with adolescent students as well as a project that you could pursue in your free time. The ultimate goal of all three programs is to introduce American college graduates to the excitement and experience of working and living in another country, an opportunity that is expected to improve the student's understanding of the larger world and to influence the opinion of American youth in other countries. These points should be kept in mind while preparing the application.

Application Process

The form, among the most complicated of any of the undergraduate awards, is the same for all three kinds of grants. The application will be done online via the Fulbright US Student Program Website.

It begins with a four-page form asking for personal information, educational background, honors and extracurricular activities, future plans, work experience, experience living abroad, and an abstract of the proposal. Fill out the entire form, even when the information is duplicated elsewhere. Print out hard copies of each part of the application. It must be typewritten or printed. At the end of the application process you will have two identical versions of the completed application: one online and one hard copy. Consider making an additional hard copy for your own use.

Then comes the Statement of Proposed Study or Research, in which you have two typewritten pages to "describe your study or research plans and your reasons for wishing to undertake them in the country of your choice. Outline a plan that realistically can be completed in one academic year abroad. Graduating seniors " (Fulbright website) are not expected to formulate detailed research projects (but they) should describe the study programs they wish to follow in terms as specific as possible." (Fulbright website) You should include the proposed starting date and the total duration of the project.

Then comes a single-page Curriculum Vitae. This is not a resume, but rather a "narrative giving a picture of yourself as an individual. It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on your intellectual development, the educational and cultural opportunities (or lack thereof) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you. Also include your special interests and abilities, career plans,life goals, etc. It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your statement of proposed study." (Fulbright website)

The rest of the application includes a Foreign Language Report, which you must have completed by a professional language teacher(one of the four members of your on-campus Fulbright Advisory Committee), three letters of reference (on forms provided), an evaluation form from the on-campus Fulbright Advisory Committee and an academic transcript. Students who wish to study and conduct research in countries in which Spanish, French, Italian, or German is the predominate language should possess oral and written proficiency in said language.

Clearly you need to be on top of the details for this rather extensive application process, since the entire package has to be submitted with my guidance online no later than October 19, 2007. It is advisable to start the application process during your Junior year at Centenary.

Fulbright Advisory Committee

Each Fulbright applicant at Centenary will need a four-member Fulbright Advisory Committee. Membership should consist of 1) the Arthur and Emily Webb Chair of International Studies faculty member (currently email); 2) a faculty member fluent in the predominate language of your selected country—unless the language is not commonly taught at most university, such as Urdu, Turkish, Russian, etc.; 3)two additional faculty members in your proposed area of study and research.

A key question the Fulbright Advisory Committee asks is "Is this project feasible?" In other words, you need to persuade the committee both that the project is worth doing, that you are the best person to do it, and that you must do it in the location you have selected. The single most persuasive thing you can provide is some evidence of "affiliation:" letters from faculty at the host institution expressing willingness to supervise your project (if you win the grant), documentation that you have begun to apply for admission to the university where you want to study, or other signs that you have seriously looked into the feasibility of the project you describe.

In addition to establishing some sort of affiliation, you should think about practical matters such as the scope of the study you plan to undertake, particularly if you are not yet completely prepared academically or linguistically. You should not plan to use archives without some advance assurance that you will be given access. You should not propose field research without a clear signal from someone at the site that such research is appropriate for the question you are investigating and that you have the proper preparation to undertake it. You should not plan to work in a scientific laboratory without a letter of commitment from the laboratory director confirming that you will be welcome. If you plan to study at a foreign university, you should investigate the requirements for admission and be sure that the program you seek to embark on can be completed in a year. (If not, have a plan for extending your stay with other funding).

Teaching Assistantships

Applicants for Teaching Assistantships should have a supplementary study in mind that they will undertake in their spare time. Its purpose is to demonstrate your interest in getting to know the people and culture where you will be living. The Project Proposal would fall into two sections: first, what you would bring to the teaching of English to adolescents in that country; and second, what other interest you would develop when not in the classroom itself. Most universities offering Teaching Assistantship require both language proficiency and training in educational methods.

For teaching assistantships candidates should indicate both their reasons for wishing to serve as teaching assistants and the supplementary study they would undertake in their free time. Your essay might stress the following points:

1) Your interest in the culture and your knowledge of it, especially your facility with the language. If you have spent your Junior year abroad in the country, or traveled extensively there, stress that experience. Although preference is given for all Fulbright awards to someone who has spent fewer than six months in the host country of the proposal, it is particularly helpful in application for a teaching position to be able to demonstrate knowledge of the host culture. The preference is applied only when everything else is equal. If you have not had experience of the country, emphasize instead how important it is that you should improve your knowledge of its language and culture. (If you are applying to teach in France, Germany,or a Spanish-speaking country you must have a command of the language already, but you do not have to have lived there.)

2) Stress any aspect of your academic background or extracurricular experience that makes you especially qualified for teaching in general and for teaching language in particular: advanced academic projects, tutoring English as a second language here or overseas, summer camp work, Big Brother/ Sister programs, etc. Stress the benefits you will derive from teaching. If you intend to be a language teacher, stress that career goal (prospective language teachers are given preference in the German and French competitions). If you are at all familiar with the educational system of the country, stress that as well. If you have taken courses in English or especially American literature or history, or if you have traveled widely in North or South America, mention this background. In sum, convince the reviewers (and yourself) that you are an interesting American who has much to offer the young people you will serve as a native English speaker. If you are interested in a career other than teaching such as international relations, diplomacy, or business, explain how the Fulbright grant will further that goal.

3) Discuss briefly a specific program of reading, study, or other project you would pursue in addition to your teaching assignment. This is your chance to present yourself as a creative person with deep cultural interests in the host country. For Korea, Hungary, Turkey, stress that you want to learn the language and culture.

Crafting these two essays requires serious attention, since the space is so limited. Be as specific as you can, identifying key issues that might arise and suggesting ways you might deal with difficulties that you have anticipated. Be particularly careful to establish that your linguistic fluency is adequate to accomplish the project.

The Personal Essay

"The personal essay gives you the chance to present yourself as intellectually alive and culturally aware, a tactful person of goodwill who will make an excellent ambassador in the Fulbright year. Explain how your proposed program of studies or teaching assignment relates to your personal intellectual growth at the close of your undergraduate years. Stress any special intellectual interests, avocations, artistic or musical abilities that you could develop or contribute during your Fulbright year. Coordinate this personal essay with the project statement. Finally, your essay must display a graceful and concise command of your native language, so plan to revise, revise, and revise. Both Fulbright essays are subject to strictly enforced page limitations. They must be carefully composed and coordinated, without fluff or redundancy." (Fulbright website)