The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs was established as part of the State Department. Its primary goal is to bring together students and professionals from the United States and across the world in hopes of building stronger relationships between the countries. The Bureau funds and sponsors many programs for international education exchanges to promote their objective of cultural learning and mutual understanding.
The State Department first established a Division of Cultural Relations in 1938. In 1944, it was placed under the direction of the first Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. What is now known as the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs was formerly established on April 17th, 1960, after previously being labeled the Bureau of International Cultural Relations in 1959. The Bureau functioned as part of the State Department until 1978 when its functions were transferred to the International Communications Agency (later the US Information Agency). However, the Bureau was transferred back into the State Department when the USIA was merged into the Department of State in 1999.
The State Department’s Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs oversees the Bureau. However, this position is currently vacant after former Undersecretary Dina Powell stepped down in December 2007, and the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Mr. C. Miller Crouch, is currently in charge.
The Bureau is divided into many initiatives, exchanges and programs. One of the founding programs is the Fulbright Scholar Exchange which was established in 1946 and currently operates in more than 150 countries. It is an international education program that is intended to increase mutual understanding between the US and other countries. As one of the most prestigious and prominent programs, it received approximately $184.6 million in 2006 through Congressional appropriation. The Bureau also sponsors many other international education exchanges for graduate, undergraduate students, and high school students; these programs focus on raising world leaders who can promote a better understanding of the US abroad.
With regards to the International Cultural Property Protection Program, a 2006 website on cultural vandalism named “Elginism” discusses a New York Times article on the limiting of importing Chinese artifacts to the US. The International Herald Tribune also wrote about the State Department’s October 2006 decision to wait on making limits to China’s request to limit the importation of their art and artifacts. A NY Times article in April 2007 also discusses the limitation of China’s artifacts and the role the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) plays in balancing the interests of historic sites, archaeologists, private individuals, and museums; the article claims the CPAC is now perceived as an enemy of the commercial art market.
Chinese quandary: Art or plunder? (by Jeremy Kahn, International Herald Tribune)
Two years later, in 2005, President Bush nominated Dina Powell for Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs and was soon designated Deputy Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. However, in May 2007 she announced her resignation at the end of the year to become the Director of Global Corporate Engagement for the Goldman Sachs Group, one of the world’s largest global investment banks.
More than six months after President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Judith Ann Stock to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), she was finally confirmed on June 17, 2010, and publically sworn in by her old friend, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on July 14. The ECA was established as part of the State Department, under a different name, in 1938. Its primary goal is to bring together students and professionals from the United States and across the world in hopes of building stronger relationships between the countries. The bureau funds and sponsors many programs for international education exchanges to promote the objective of cultural learning and mutual understanding. Its best-known program is the Fulbright Scholar Program.