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Diplomas and Diplomacy: the History of the Marshall Scholarship

reviewed by Adam Grimm

coverTitle: Diplomas and Diplomacy: the History of the Marshall Scholarship
Author(s): Aroop Mukharji
Publisher: Palgrave/MacMillan, New York
ISBN: 1137594284, Pages: 170, Year: 2016
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Diplomas and Diplomacy, The History of the Marshall Scholarship reminds us of what we all know, yet rarely acknowledge: everything is political. In the first published work on the history of the Marshall Scholarship, a U.K. government-funded scholarship program inviting scholars from the United States to pursue advanced degrees at U.K. institutions, Aroop Mukharji clearly articulates the geopolitical importance of the Scholarship for U.S.-U.K. relations from its inception through its development. Drawing from a rich body of first-person interviews with alumni and officials as well as detailed analyses of related documents, Mukharji shares how the Marshall Scholarship grew from a simple expression of gratitude for postwar aid to a foreign relations institution whose alumni have influenced British and American societies through business, politics, technology, and the arts.


Diplomas and Diplomacy is divided into four sections. Part One, titled “Conception to Enactment,” details the inception of the Marshall scholarship as a gesture of gratitude intended to show the appreciation of the British people and government for U.S. postwar aid. Wanting to commemorate the Marshall program with something that would “strike the American imagination” with something “permanent” (p. 160), initial ideas for gifting an original copy of the Magna Carta were scrapped in favor of what would eventually become the Marshall Scholarship Program. Early development of the program considered how best to leverage the scholarship program to both demonstrate British gratitude for Marshall aid and “produce a positive effect on Anglo-American relations” (p. 23). The Marshall Scholarship was developed with the Rhodes Scholarship in mind, and indeed an alignment of resources between the programs was considered in the early years. Nevertheless, due to a misalignment of priorities, the Marshall Scholarship went its own way to establish the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission that would coordinate with the British Foreign Offices in the United States to select 12 Scholars to pursue advanced degrees in the United Kingdom.


Part Two, “Opinion Formers,” tells the story of the Marshall Scholars through the program's alumni. Opening this section, Chapter Eight, “Scholars,” details how from the beginning of the program, a significant proportion of alumni went on to positions in academia and research. Chapter Nine, “Governance,” shares the accounts of many who went on to play key roles in government, both within Anglo-American relations and beyond. Chapter Ten, “Journalism and Public Perception,” explores how beginning in the 1970s, Scholars began to pursue journalism during their time in the United Kingdom, and upon completion of the program took on prominent roles in the field both in the United States and internationally. Chapter Eleven, “The Arts,” outlines the growth of Scholars pursuing artistic endeavors through the program, increasing from none in the first class to nearly 10 percent in recent years (p. 68). Finally, Chapter Twelve, “The World’s Fight: Development, Public Health, and Humanitarian Work,” details the lives of a growing number of Scholars who have made a deliberate and considerable contribution to the betterment of world society.


Part Three, “Community,” details the development of the Marshall alumni society and the creation of a “Marshall Identity.” Early on, Marshall scholars struggled to form a community due to their not being at the same institution. To address this, the British Foreign Office funded a program in the late 1980s to create an alumni organization that would serve as the formal mechanism for connecting Scholars after they completed their studies. The Association of Marshall Scholars (AMS) got new life in the early 2000s when leadership sought to capitalize on the star power of some of the Scholarship’s most prominent alumni and began a fundraising campaign. Over the years, the Marshall Scholarship transformed “from an award to an association” (p. 103), functioning as a network of talented individuals with a shared experience. In addition to facilitating a rich alumni network, current scholars now take part in more deliberate programming and outings to facilitate a greater sense of community amongst Scholars.


Part Four, “The Unanticipated,” briefly touches on the unplanned outcomes of the Marshall Scholarship, namely the Scholars who remain in the United Kingdom as well as those who reinvest through donations to their U.K. alma mater or through setting up businesses in the country. In the final chapter, “Measuring Diploma Diplomacy,” Mukharji sets out to assess the legacy of the Scholarship through its contribution to Anglo-American Relations, how it has adapted over time, and whether or not it has had an impact. Acknowledging the difficulty of coming to any definitive claims about the impact of the program, Mukharji asserts the importance of understanding the value of the program by assessing the “lives and careers of individual Marshall Scholars” (p. 131).


The major contribution of this book to the study of education is that it considers the international mobility of students and scholars not as isolated experiences, but as part of larger geopolitical patterns, grounded in and shaped by the societies that send and host these individuals. I would recommend this book to anyone hoping to understand the Marshall Scholarship or as an example of how to consider educational mobility in a broader political and social context.


As an education scholar, I would have liked to find a more critical perspective taken when examining the program, particularly when considering race, gender, or class (the author acknowledges these absences, but defers them to “future endeavors” [p. viii]). Mukharji recognizes that his experience as a Scholar might bias his writing (p. ix), and indeed much of the book reads as a passionate and proud defense of the Marshall. From the perspective of education research, a chapter situating the Marshall Scholarship within ongoing discussions or theories of international mobility and exchange would have been fruitful. Although the author mentions the term “soft power” several times when discussing the value of the program, more elucidation of this and other frameworks would have enhanced this account. Similarly,  rather than sharing numerous stories of success post-program, considering Marshall Scholars’ motivations for taking part in the program and plotting their development through the program would have strengthened the author’s analysis. Going in-depth to tell the stories of a few Scholars rather than providing brief anecdotes or lists of successful Scholars might have also been a more effective way to engage the reader.


Mukharji’s review of the Marshall Scholarship is excellently situated within a discussion of geopolitics and education systems going back decades. As a student of mobility, I appreciate this treatment of cross-border movement. Additionally, I found it refreshing to understand the Marshall Scholarship through the scholars themselves, learning about career and individual development, and exploring their lives long after their experience abroad. Finally, in our current political climate, following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the ongoing and intensified immigration debates in the United States, I find this book, advocating for the benefits of exchange, to be both timely and refreshing.



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, 2018, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22552, Date Accessed: 11/20/2018 11:51:47 PM

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