The British-American Project (BAP) is a transatlantic fellowship of over 1,200 leaders and opinion formers from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political views. BAP operates on a not-for-profit basis, funded through its membership and support from corporate partners. It was originally named the British-American Project for the Successor Generation.
The Project meets annually for a four-day conference on a topic of current concern to both countries. Each year, roughly 24 new participants are selected from either side of the Atlantic, on the basis of service to their communities and professional achievement, and sponsored to attend the conference as Delegates. At the end of each conference, Delegates are elected Fellows of the Project. Fellows from past years attend the annual conferences at their own expense, with many returning in successive years.
Established in 1985 BAP was created to help maintain and enrich the long-standing relationship between Britain and the United States. The Project was the brainchild of Nick Butler, an economist at BP who at that time was also a prospective Labour parliamentary candidate and a research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). Along with many others in the US and Britain who viewed the special relationship favorably, he had become concerned about a growing tide of anti-American sentiment among his generation in the UK. Butler's response was to propose a series of conferences, similar in format to the annual get-together of Anglo-German leaders at Konigswinter, developing relationships between the participants and broadening understanding. This rapidly gained backing from Chatham House and the US Embassy in London. It was Sir Charles Villiers, the former chairman of British Steel, who secured funding by inviting in two American anglophile friends, Lew van Dusen and Isadore Scott, who were able to secure funding and fulfill the dream of creating, in a younger generation, a multiplicity of transatlantic friendships like their own.
A US BAP organiser describes the BAP network as committed to "grooming leaders" while promoting "the leading global role that [the US and Britain] continue to play".
BAP strives to draw its membership from as wide a selection of backgrounds and fields as possible. Fellows have included senior members in nearly every executive administration in the US and the UK over the past thirty years, the leader of the British Labour Party, heads of national security, a former chief of the British armed forces, US Mayors, Members of Congress and US Senators, award-winning comedians, high-profile journalists, distinguished academics and filmmakers, CEOs of major corporations, faith leaders and successful entrepreneurs. The competition for places is generally fierce. Each year BAP organizes a rigorous selection process to identify approximately 20 individuals from the US and 20 from the UK who will join the Fellowship from all walks of life, including business, media, law, government, the military, sports, the public sector, NGOs, music, visual and creative industries. BAP receives over 200 nominations annually from existing Fellows, Advisory Board members, donors and outside organizations.
The annual conference is the key event in the calendar, bringing together 150-200 Fellows and newly chosen nominees (known as Delegates) from both sides of the Atlantic. Delegates are invited to attend the conference with all associated costs paid for by BAP. BAP's 2018 Conference will be held in Seattle, Washington.
Each year, roughly 40 new participants are selected from a variety of backgrounds among the intellectual and influential society on both sides of the Atlantic. At the start of each year, each existing member can nominate people in the general age range of 28 to 40. The nomination processes are different in the U.S. and UK. The UK nominees are interviewed and tested: there are competitive debates, management games and personal presentations; U.S. nominees must submit letters of recommendation and have a separate process of selection. Once selected, the Delegates attend the centerpiece of the British-American Project, its annual conference, held in November each year and alternating between the U.S. and the UK.
The overarching goal of the yearly conference is to provide a wide range of issues (with a variety of presentation styles) to provoke thought and debate, to inform and challenge, and to foster greater understanding among participants about competing views on a topic. Discussions often grapple with the similarities and differences between the attitudes of representatives of the two countries to the issues addressed during the conference.
The British-American Project is now affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). BAP is a non-profit, funded by its members and donations from corporate partners. While acknowledging the connections made among journalists and the political class in the two countries, a 1999 article in The Observer noted critics saying it was another example of too much US influence in Britain. Participants have been highly favorable about the project.
During the administration of President Bill Clinton in the US, the Australian journalist John Pilger attacked the BAP as an example of "Atlanticist freemasonry." He asserted in November 1998 that "many members are journalists, the essential foot soldiers in any network devoted to power and propaganda."
Toby Flood (International rugby player)