The first student-run conference of the spring semester is taking place today.  Over the past few months, The Fletcher Africana Club has organized the 3rd Annual Fletcher Africana Conference, with the theme From Rhetoric to Action: Getting Things Done in Modern Day Africa.  The organizers describe the conference this way:

Africana Conference 2016Join the Africana Club and students and professionals from around the Boston area as we engage in inter-disciplinary discussions around topics such as Illicit Trade, Cross Sector Partnerships for Development, and Social and Political Inclusion.  We also have a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers, including Rosa Whitaker, one of the world’s foremost experts on African trade, investment and business, and our own Kingsley Moghalu, Professor of Practice here at Fletcher and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

For more information on the terrific conference line-up, check out the agenda and the list of speakers on the conference website.  I’d also encourage readers to take a look at the introductions to the student organizing team, which includes students from African countries, as well as many others who have worked in or studied the region.

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Innovation WeekA winter week is the perfect time to create a celebratory event, which is what Innovate Tufts has done.  Innovation Week, a multi-event conference dedicated to celebrating innovation and cultivating entrepreneurship within our community, started last Friday and continues through this week.  Here’s the lineup:

Friday, January 29: DESIGN THINKING WORKSHOP — Led by Frog Design, a leading strategic design firm.  Learn Human Centered Design.  Understand user needs, identify relevant stakeholders, and fill our walls with post-it notes of your observations, as we ideate with creative solutions to local problems.

Monday, February 1-Thursday, February 3: PANELS — Distinguished speakers and innovators engaging you on:

Innovation and Human Rights

Innovation in Education

Innovation in Action: Mapping the Arc from Insight to Implementation

FinTech Innovation & Entrepreneurship

BlueTech Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Massachusetts and Beyond

Thursday, February 4: DEMO NIGHT — Tufts and Fletcher entrepreneurs pitch their startups and business ideas, followed by a networking event to celebrate the week.

You can learn more about the week at the Innovate Tufts website.

 

Murray 2Technically, Murray is not a member of the Admissions staff.  But he is the good friend (and dog) of Dan, who is.  Murray has had many opportunities to observe Dan reading applications.  Last year and once before, Dan wrote about spending a day with both applications and a dog who might want to be out and about.  Today, Murray shares his perspective on a day reading applications.

Murray's kissesOn a normal day the man lets me out into the backyard when I wake up.  He says it’s “to help the grass grow,” but that’s not what I do out there.  Then he leaves.  I go back to sleep.  I usually have a full schedule with a lot of sleeping to take care of, so it’s good for me to get to it early.  Today isn’t a normal day.  The man is still here.  He looks like he has sleep he needs to take care of, too, but he sits at a table with a computer instead.  I think it’s probably another way of sleeping because he doesn’t say very much.  He hasn’t even licked his hand yet, but I can take care of that.  Teamwork.

Murray in coatThe man thinks I’m stupid because my brain is the size of a walnut, but I know he’s “reading applications.”  I don’t know what that is, though.  I DO know that he gets an hour, at most, before he’s taking me outside, whether he likes it or not.  Take me outside!

Here’s the thing – I have to wear this embarrassing jacket.  If the man is going to make me wear it, we should stay outside for at least six hours, which I think is fair.  Look how totally sunny it is!  The man can easily “read applications” outside while I smell things, and look at things.  And smell things.

Murray and toyBut like I said, I have a busy work day.  This toy won’t kill itself, so I have to take care of that, which means I probably won’t get all the sleep done I’m supposed to.  Sleeping is a core part of my job description, so I have to make time.  Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

The man has stayed at home like this a few times before, and I’ve heard him say what he looks for on these days are “strong academics,” “international exposure,” “professional experience,” and “a clear sense of interest and goals.”  I don’t know what those words mean, but my guess is they’re food.  I have to think about the most important foods a lot, too, so it makes sense that the man does the same thing.  The things I look for in a day are beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey.  And meat.  If a day has those things, there’s a good chance I’ll eat them!

Like I said, not enough hours in the day. It makes me tired just thinking about it.Murray napping

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I always enjoy the Open House that we put on for applicants admitted through the Early Notification round.  Only a small group (fewer than 20) prospective students join us each year, and it’s always a mellow day for us, but a productive day for them.  Unlike the April Open House, when visitors add an additional fifty percent to the student body and thus dominate the building, today’s attendees can slip into classrooms in a much more natural way.

One of the best features of the day is the opportunity we have to connect (or possibly reconnect) names and faces.  I just finished two one-on-one meetings with folks I had met during the fall — one at a campus visit, and one here at Fletcher.  But even more special is that people who were little more than online applications until today are now real people.  And meeting these real people reminds us that the applications we’re still slogging through will become real people later in the spring.  Sometimes I need that reminder!

The morning’s activities have included breakfast, a session to introduce the School and the degree programs, and choice of a class visit or an informal chat with current students.  We’ll all meet up again for lunch, and then more classes, or a student panel/Q&A, or a Fletcher tour.  Like I said, a relaxing day, but one that offers admitted students a nice glimpse into an average day at Fletcher.

 

Let’s close out this week with the next Five Year Update from a 2010 graduate.  Rebecca is one of the growing number of Fletcher-trained M&E professionals out in the world, and here she describes her trajectory from before Fletcher to her post-Fletcher career.

Before Fletcher

After graduating in 2005 from Bates College, where I studied political science, studied abroad in Cape Town, and wrote my honors thesis on the gendered nature of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, I knew I wanted to do something international, but I wasn’t sure exactly what.  I decided to move to Washington, DC and see what opportunities I could find there.  I ended up at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a foreign policy think tank.  It was a great introduction to the world of international policy.  While at CSIS, I organized high-level membership meetings and special fundraising events.  I got to meet Sandra Day O’Connor and travel to China and I was exposed to the field of policy and decision-making.  I knew I needed to gain practitioner skills, and graduate school seemed like the logical next step.  Fletcher was my first choice — I loved the close-knit community feeling I got when I visited and also that it was outside of the beltway.

At Fletcher

Rebecca speaking to the American Evaluation Association Conference

Rebecca speaking to the American Evaluation Association Conference

At Fletcher, I studied Development Economics and Global Health Policy (a self-designed Field of Study) and graduated with a certificate in Human Security.  During my first semester I signed up for a course on Design, Monitoring and Evaluation.  I had never heard of M&E before and didn’t realize it would have such an impact on my career.  As I went through the course that semester, something clicked.  I loved the idea of using my analytical skills to help development practitioners learn from and improve the work they were doing.  During the summer, I traveled to Malawi with three other Fletcher students and designed an M&E framework for a girls’ education organization.  For my thesis, I worked with a small global health organization to design an M&E strategy for the organization’s programming.  I believe that the combination of education and practical skills in M&E I gained at Fletcher enabled me to get my foot in the door at Oxfam America after I graduated.

After Fletcher

I started at the headquarters of Oxfam America in Boston as an intern — I tell every Fletcher student who contacts me for career advice that it’s OK to take an internship after graduating.  It’s a great way to test out an organization and you get opportunities that you would not have as someone external to the organization.  My internship ultimately turned into a consultancy, which turned into a full-time position.  I worked for almost four and a half years in Oxfam’s Campaigns Department, where I was introduced to the wonderful world of policy advocacy monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL).  I worked with a variety of campaign teams based in the U.S., supporting them on all things MEL, including developing MEL plans, collecting data, facilitating debriefs and writing evaluation reports.  In my last year in the department, I provided campaign MEL support to country teams and led trainings in Nepal and Spain.

My experience in policy advocacy MEL, combined with the program M&E skills I acquired at Fletcher, enabled me to transition to Oxfam’s Regional Programs Department, where I am the MEL Project Officer for domestic programs.  I provide technical MEL support and make sure the different programs are effectively monitoring, reporting on, and learning from their work.  After working in the international field for almost a decade, it has been rewarding to support programming in my home country.  I could not have predicted this career when I first set foot in the Hall of Flags in 2008, but my two years at Fletcher had a profound impact on where I am now, and I am all the better for it.

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I’ve got to admit that I completely lost control of the news flow at the end of the fall semester.  I had planned so many posts that I never managed to write.  But is the winter break an uncrossable boundary that makes fall semester events off limit in the spring?  I think not, so I’ll just take this minute to highlight a Tufts Now article on the Fletcher talk given by Stephen Hadley, former national security advisor.  The Dr. Maurice S. Segal Lecture Series draws prominent individuals to campus.

 

Though many others at Fletcher have offered their thoughts, I haven’t posted anything yet on the passing earlier this month of Stephen Bosworth, the dean of Fletcher from 2001 to 2013.  Readers who want to know more about him could read the University’s report, or this obituary from The Boston Globe, or perhaps this blog post from Fletcher Professor Daniel Drezner.

Dean Bosworth portraitAlthough Fletcher grew significantly and there was a great deal of change during his term as dean, I would still describe Dean Bosworth as a quiet and thoughtful presence around the School.  In that light, it’s particularly interesting to note the scope of people who commented on his death, from Secretary of State John Kerry, to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, to the Ambassador to North Korea’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.  Dean Bosworth served under two Tufts University presidents, Larry Bacow and Tony Monaco, and was ambassador under three U.S. presidents (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton), in addition to serving as special representative to North Korea for President Obama.

A new portrait of Dean Bosworth was added to the Ginn Library reading room in October and the gathering was an opportunity for many to share kind words about him.  There will also be a memorial service for Dean Bosworth in February.  His many accomplishments, in so many different settings, will be recognized, I’m sure.

 

The final update on the fall 2015 semester comes from Tatsuo, who, like Ali and Aditi, took a heavy course load last semester.  In fact, I would describe it as an extremely challenging semester for anyone, and particularly for a non-native English speaker just starting his Fletcher studies.

In my first semester at Fletcher, I took four courses: Law and Development; Development Economics: Policy Analysis; Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance; and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies.  Every course was interesting, but especially Law and Development, which was one of the reasons that I chose the School.  Thus, I want to introduce the course in this post.

Tatsuo and his Law and Development reading group.

Law and Development dealt with development theory and implementation of development policies from the legal perspective.  It was an interdisciplinary fusion of international development and legal studies.  The combination of two fields, law and international relations, is characteristic of one of the unique qualities of The Fletcher School of “Law and Diplomacy.”  In the course, some students did not have legal expertise or practical experience; therefore, the legal materials that we reviewed in the class were not too difficult or specialized.  But I hardly felt bored in the class, although I have five years’ experience as a legal officer, managing legislation and implementing laws and orders.

I found the class engaging for a few reasons.  First, I was a beginner in international development studies.  Thinking about how we could manage issues of international development through legal schemes and techniques was very exciting and helpful for my future career when I will be involved in regional development as a public legal officer.

Second, and more importantly, the course gave us opportunities to think about fundamental questions of law.  Developing countries and regions tend not to have adequate legal schemes, bureaucracies, or precedents.  Thus, they cannot rely on routine procedures or ways of thinking, and they face fundamental questions that we, developed countries’ officers, likely ignore.  What is law?  What is a court?  What is justice?  What is development?  Some people think that these questions are not practical, but I certainly do not agree with them.  In interdisciplinary or emergency cases, including one I have experienced personally, we have to face such questions.  Just after the Great Japan Earthquake in 2011, we wanted to skip or abolish many legal procedures for rapid rescue and recovery.  However, even in this emergency situation, in order to evade these established legal schemes, we needed to identify truly necessary legal procedures.  I remember that we discussed “What is the government?” and “To what extent could we pursue coercive actions without any democratic or legal procedures?” in those chaotic days.

The professor of the Law and Development course is Jeswald Salacuse.  He has a great reputation both in practical fields (the former president of international arbitration tribunals of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) and academia (he is also a former dean of The Fletcher School and the founding President of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs).  In previous work as a legal assistant, he actually pursued law and development issues in developing countries.  As a result, his lectures incorporated not only theoretical and text-based knowledge but also vivid recollections of experiences in the field.  Although he has had such a prestigious career, he was very friendly and approachable for his students.  His class was one of the largest lecture classes at Fletcher, but even with about 30 to 40 students in the class, I did not feel any difficulty asking questions.  Professor Salacuse also seemed to like interactive lectures.  Additionally even outside the class, the professor kindly helped me with class assignments and papers.

The course dealt with vast areas of law and development.  Reading assignments were huge, especially for non-native English speakers like me, so I organized a reading group with other five students.  We read and summarized each assigned reading and discussed them each weekend.  That was very helpful for understanding background material for the course, and the discussions with students who have diverse backgrounds were also really interesting.

One thing about the course that I regret was my decision to write a paper.  We were offered the choice of taking a final exam or writing a research paper.  I chose to write the paper.  During the first half of the semester, I was struggling to manage the course’s assignments, and I wasn’t able to start writing until after mid-term exams.  That meant that writing my draft of the paper overlapped with presentations for final presentations, exams, and papers for my other courses.  If my schedule management had worked better, I could have done more to improve the final version.  Although I did not receive the grade I had hoped for on the report, it was the only thing I regret about the course.

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The Admissions Committee just concluded its first winter meeting of the year.  We’ll meet weekly from now through the beginning of March, with meetings running progressively longer and covering more applications.  For today, a relatively short discussion, fueled by coffee and pastries.

After the meeting we sent our student readers out for an exciting weekend of skiing at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine (or, perhaps, a quiet weekend in town with most classmates away in Maine).  The ski trip is a monumental undertaking, involving hundreds of students, spouses, and even children.  Many of the skiers (or snowboarders) will never have hit the slopes before.  Some of them will never have been in such a cold and snowy place before.  The lead-up to the trip involves several organizational meetings, featuring PowerPoint presentations that emphasize the cold and suggest wearing “hat, goggles, neck-warmer (or scarf), long-underwear (layers!), mittens, another warm layer (fleece jacket/wool sweater, etc), warm socks (NOT COTTON), water-proof/wind-resistant outer layer jacket and pants.”

Cold or not, everyone always reports having a great time.  The organizers of the first trip, not even ten years ago, could hardly have imagined what a community-building institution in would become.

 

Applicants who have submitted all their graduate school applications in recent weeks may be thinking that the next two months are free to relax and get on with life.  That’s true.  Or a little bit true.  Or maybe not so true.  In fact, I would encourage you to keep thinking about how your graduate school options are going to come together.  Specifically, do you have all the financial resources you need for your studies?

Yes, it’s true that some students will receive a full tuition scholarship from the graduate school of their choice.  But we also know that both our own students and those of other graduate schools of international affairs are usually drawing from a combination of different financial resources.

One potential resource is income for work during the semester.  For most Fletcher students, that means campus work.  (Most international students, especially, have few options for work off-campus, given visa regulations.)  Last semester, whenever I saw a job posting, I tucked it away in a folder, and I thought I would share a few so that you can get a sense of the range of campus work.  Please note that income from a campus job is likely to help you cover some expenses — maybe all of your food expenses — but is not likely to make a serious dent in your tuition.  With that in mind, here are a few of the different jobs offered in the fall.  Note that these positions are not open now or for fall 2016, but you can be sure that similar postings will appear in each semester.

Work in offices

The Office of Student Affairs is seeking a student to work approximately 10 hours per week starting as soon as possible and continuing to the end of the academic year.  The position entails management of the Fletcher Connect Calendar and other student affairs projects during the semester.  Duties include heavy administrative work, logistics, and event planning.  Interested students should have strong organizational and communication skills, a proficient knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel, and an interest in working closely with school administration.  A flexible and friendly attitude is also appreciated.

Tufts Telefund:  The Tufts Telefund position offers flexible work hours, great pay and a friendly work atmosphere with fellow students. You will forge strong relationships with alumni, parents and friends of the university to raise funds towards scholarships and many other meaningful causes while earning an hourly wage with the opportunity for incentive-based rewards.  Student fundraisers are persuasive, energetic and passionate about Tufts University.

Student, Talent Handler, TV Studio:  Dual Reporting to Ginn Library and Communications, Public Relations & Marketing (CPR&M).  Provides onsite staffing and support for live and pre-recorded television news interviews with faculty and experts of The Fletcher School in keeping with established protocols and processes. Arrives no later than half an hour before scheduled interview to prep and test studio equipment and establish connection with VideoLink; greets talent; assists talent with on-air preparation.  Flexibility is a must!  There are no set hours — you will work when there is a broadcast, and requests will come in oftentimes with little advance notice.  Assignments will be distributed among a pool of handlers to accommodate other commitments.

Fletcher’s Communications, Public Relations & Marketing (CPR&M) office is seeking talented student writers, videographers, photographers, and editors for paid assignments covering events on campus.  We will be taking applications for individual positions as well as combined (e.g., Student Photographer/Writer), with a preference for adaptable candidates who possess at least two skills sets and are able to work across different media.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year.

Research Assistant Positions

Research Assistant for Humanitarian Technology:  Kings College/London, the Overseas Development Institute, and the Feinstein International Center are partnering on a new research initiative that looks at the current humanitarian system, its deficiencies and strengths and how it might be reformed to be more fit for purpose both in the short term and over a 10 to 15-year horizon. One significant component of this Planning from the Future Project (PFF) is a review of technological “game changers.”

Our research assistant will conduct a rapid literature search and review, highlighting these areas:

  • Cash (and support programs like Kache); Hawalas, mpesa or e-money transfer systems, etc;
  • ODK, KOBO and digital data collection, entry, and analysis platforms;
  • ICT/ comms;
  • Crisis-mapping and crowd sourcing information;
  • Dashboards and data amalgamation/analysis platforms;
  • Drones; satellite remote sensing, etc.
  • “Big data” ( and protecting personal ID and personal data);
  • Fieldwork.

The Research Assistant should have the following qualifications:

  • Strong research skills, including the ability to quickly search and summarize diverse literature
  • Writing ability (demonstrate previous lit reviews)
  • Knowledge of humanitarian technologies
  • Availability to begin work immediately, and to contribute 50 hours of effort by middle of November (15-20 hours/ week)

The Office of the Dean is looking to hire a current first year student as research assistant.  This position will take on occasional projects given by Dean Jim Stavridis.  Requirements include approximately 10-15 hour per week commitment, strong research skills, knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint, attending occasional meetings with the Dean, and the ability to function as part of a two-person team with a second-year student.

A Fletcher professor and a Brandeis University professor are co-directors of a project on on “Leadership and Negotiation” sponsored by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.  They are looking for a second-year MALD or PhD student to help them with the project.  Candidates should have a strong interest and background in negotiation, leadership, conflict resolution.

Teaching Assistant positions

International law:  Every spring several of Fletcher’s International Law faculty teach an undergraduate course on International Law through the Tufts Political Science department.  Two Fletcher students are hired each year to help out as coordinating instructor and TA.  In addition to attending the weekly lecture, you would also hold office hours each week for an hour and help run three to four review sessions during the semester.  The TA position is a two-year commitment so you will need to be at Fletcher next year.  You would be the TA for the course this Spring. Next spring you would be the coordinating instructor with a new TA.  The TA would ideally have some background in international law.

The TA tasks include the following:

  • preparing discussion questions and leading weekly discussion groups;
  • helping to organize a moot court exercise;
  • running review sessions 3-4 times a semester;
  • assisting with general logistics of the course, including grading;
  • holding office hours once a week.

Other teaching positions

The Fletcher Graduate Writing Center is accepting applications for writing tutors. The job basics:

  • Work one-on-one tutoring fellow Fletcher students in writing skills
  • Plan, execute, and assist with periodic writing skill workshops
  • A time commitment of 3-6 hours per week – schedules to be arranged after hiring
  • The ideal applicant has experience with tutoring AND editing of various kinds with people from a wide array of backgrounds.

Winter Teaching Opportunity at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: Lead a short study group for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts, an adult education program for retirees seeking intellectual stimulation in a convivial  atmosphere.  No tests.  No pressure.  No grades.  Just the thrill of learning for its own sake.  The Institute is currently soliciting proposals for 2- and 4-session study groups for its 4-week winter program, which will run in January and February.

You’ll receive a small honorarium, valuable classroom experience, an opportunity to develop a course in a subject you’re excited about, and the joy of knowing that everyone who signs up for your class has done so out of  genuine interest.  Study groups generally meet once per week, either on Mondays or Fridays on the Medford campus, or on Wednesdays at a “satellite campus” in Lexington.

 

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