A Scholar’s Journey Down Under with Fulbright

Duke professor reflects on his personal and professional time in Australia

-By Charles Givens

September 14, 2023

When Kyle Beardsley, Duke University Professor of Political Science was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Australia in 2023, he embarked on a transformative journey. As an expert in international politics with a primary focus on mediation and peacekeeping, Beardsley’s scholarly pursuits took him to the far reaches of the globe, providing him with a unique opportunity to immerse himself in a different culture while advancing his academic and personal life.

Beardsley’s affiliation with Duke University spans years, during which he has conducted groundbreaking research while also handling duties as deputy director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and co-directing the International Crisis Behavior Project. His contributions to the field of political science have solidified his reputation as a leading scholar. Things went to another level with the Fulbright.


The Fulbright Fellowship, offered by the Department of State, is one of the most esteemed international academic programs. It allows scholars the chance to engage with different cultures, conduct research and promote mutual understanding between nations. “Fulbright has been on my radar probably since I was an undergraduate student,” said Beardsley. “I took a small elective class on scholarships and professional development as an undergrad, and we got to hear about Fulbright, Marshall [Scholars], Truman [Scholars] and Rhodes [Scholars].”

Kyle Beardsley, his wife and daughters enjoying some time together viewing the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy of Kyle Beardsley.

One of the most enriching aspects of the Fulbright experience for Beardsley was the opportunity to relocate his family to Australia for six months. His daughters attended a local primary school, forging new friendships, while he engaged in research and teaching at the Australian National University. The Fulbright program provided crucial support in the form of a stipend, housing allowance and assistance in making connections, ensuring a smooth transition for the Beardsley family. Sharing adventures in exploring Australia meant the family grew closer and communicated more openly. 

One of the key takeaways from Beardsley’s time away was gaining a new understanding of how academics do and should balance their work and personal lives. Additionally, he had the opportunity to present his work at various Australian universities, engage with fellow researchers and gain new perspectives into his research on the Indo-Pacific region.

Beardsley giving a research talk at Murdoch University. Photo courtesy of Kyle Beardsley.

“I have a chapter in the book manuscript that I’m writing that’s focused on Australia and the Indo-Pacific and the role of the United States in those ties,” said Beardsley. “That’s part of the world that I was less exposed to. Also, the scholars that I typically engage with at Duke and in North America don’t have the Indo-Pacific as part of their expertise, so it was great to go hear about people’s research [locally in Australia].”


On his return to Duke, Beardsley offers some guidance for those interested in the Fulbright. “There is so much excellent work being done at Duke and so many opportunities and awards, but maybe there isn’t as much of an awareness about the Fulbright Fellowship,” said Beardsley. “It opens a lot of doors and is regarded internationally as a stamp of recognition that you are a renowned scholar. People know the brand of a Fulbright and know what it represents. It certainly made it easy to set up opportunities, to meet with people and talk with some of the players in the policy-facing side of things.”

From a deeper understanding of academia’s work-life balance to new insights into his research and the formation of strong family bonds, Beardsley says the Fulbright program truly broadened his horizons. His story serves as a testament to the transformative power of international exchange programs, fostering both personal and scholarly growth.