Changing Planet

Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows Will Shine Spotlight on Critical World Issues

By Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs

The Department of State and National Geographic share a common interest in ensuring that individuals throughout the world have access to information that serves to break down barriers between people.  For more than 60 years, the Fulbright Program has enabled students, scholars, and emerging leaders around the world to connect and collaborate in many areas, including our biggest global challenges.

Since its inception in 1888, National Geographic has grown into one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world.  Through its various platforms, it has captivated audiences with stories covering important topics and promoting environmental and historical conservation.  Of course, many Americans, myself included, recall seeing rows of yellow National Geographic magazines displayed proudly on bookshelves in our homes or libraries.  And we will never forget the piercing gaze of a young Afghan girl who graced the cover of the magazine in 1985.  National Geographic brings us stories and images that inspire.

The State Department takes great pride in the achievements of Fulbright participants and alumni from the U.S. and other countries.  The Fulbright experience has touched the lives of many, with nearly 8,000 grants annually and programs operating in over 155 countries worldwide.  Twenty-nine alumni of the program have served as heads of state or government, 45 alumni have been awarded a Nobel Prize, 28 have received MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, and 80 have received Pulitzer Prizes, including 12 in journalism.

I look forward to the digital stories that the inaugural group of Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows will create.  They will shine a spotlight on critical world issues that serve as the themes of this year’s Digital Storytelling program:  Biodiversity, Cities, Cultures, Disasters, Energy, Food, Oceans, and Water.

The Department of State is grateful to the National Geographic Society for its support of the Fulbright program, and we look forward to positive outcomes for our participants and their audiences around the world.

Adapted from remarks made by Assistant Secretary Ryan at the official signing event to inaugurate the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, at the U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., November 25, 2013.


Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn


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