The final collection of books that professors suggest incoming students MIGHT want to look at this summer comes from Prof. Shultz and Prof. Pfaltzgraff, the core members of the International Security Studies faculty.  Together, they have selected:

The Revenge of Geography, by Robert D. Kaplan

World Order, by Henry Kissinger

Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The need for an Effective American Foreign Policy, by William C. Martel

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement in a Complex World, Stanley McChrystal

“International Security Studies: Looking Back and Looking Ahead,” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, by Robert L. Pfaltzgraff and Richard H. Shultz, Jr.  (This article in Fletcher’s student-run journal shares the history of the Security Studies program at Fletcher, dating back to 1971.  Good background for incoming students.)

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman

The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO, James Stavridis (the dean of The Fletcher School)

And that wraps up the reading list for Summer 2015!  No matter whether you’re an incoming student or someone who stumbled accidentally on the Admissions Blog, I hope you found a book, article, or video that is worth exploring this summer.  And if you want to review all the posts, you can find them here.

I’m coming to the end of the oh-so-optional summer reading list.  Here’s this week’s installment.

Prof. Papa, F03, F10 (a graduate of Fletcher’s PhD program) wrote, “This is a super-exciting time for sustainable development and global governance because of major geopolitical and environmental challenges, which we will cover in my course Sustainable Development Diplomacy.  Two brand new books can put students on the frontiers of the current debates:  Want, Waste or War? The Global Resource Nexus and the Struggle for Land, Energy, Food, Water and Minerals, by Philip Andrews-Speed, Raimund Bleischwitz, Tim Boersma, Corey Johnson, Geoffrey Kemp, and Stacy D. VanDeveer Routledge; and The BRICS and the Future of Global Order, by Oliver Stuenkel.”

For Fletcher’s Processes of International Negotiation course, Prof. Babbitt suggests the classic, Getting to Yes.

Prof. Trachtman, accepting my invitation to make us aware of professors’ own writing, points us to his The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue and Win, which he wrote based on his teaching experience and believes will be “excellent preparation for law courses.”

Prof. Lavdas also pointed us toward a book that he co-authored, the timely Stateness and Sovereign Debt: Greece in the European-Conundrum.

Finally, Prof. Mankad recommends Resonate by Nancy Duarte, as well as This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Womenby Jay Allison and Dan Gediman.

Yesterday you read an update from 2014 graduate Eirik Torsvoll.  I also wanted to share this article that he wrote for the U.S.-Norway Fulbright Foundation, which sponsored his studies.

It was the journalist Edward R. Murrow who observed that in promoting international understandings, what matters most is “the last three feet.”  Incomplete perceptions and attitudes about foreign people are best dispelled by actual personal contact, with individuals engaged in conversation with one another.  And so it was with my Fulbright experience.

I arrived in Medford, Massachusetts in the fall of 2012, to pursue a master’s degree in international relations.  My place of study was the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, which is situated 15 minutes from Boston proper.  I was very excited about this unique opportunity to specialize in the fields of study that interest me the most, namely U.S. foreign policy, security studies, and the Asia-Pacific region.

Fletcher offered an incredible range, depth, and freedom of study that I tried to take advantage of to the fullest.  This involved, for example, a highly meticulous process of deciding which courses to take in a given semester.  The task was not made easier by the fact that Fletcher students can cross-register for graduate courses at Harvard University, which significantly widened the list of available courses.  I was not complaining about the degree of choice, however.  For someone hungry to further his studies it was pure bliss.

For my comprehension of world issues, as important as the courses themselves were my fellow peers.  Fletcher attracts a pool of students, both from the United States and abroad, with an incredibly diverse set of backgrounds and experiences.  This meant that for basically every classroom discussion someone would say something like “I was there when that happened” or “I have been working on that for my government.”  This made the talks so much richer, and my understanding of the issues so much deeper.  Having had the opportunity to discuss world issues with people from around the globe, in the pressure cooker of ideas and perspectives that is Fletcher, was a truly invaluable experience.

I also greatly appreciated the Fletcher faculty’s approach of mixing theory and practice in their teaching.  The school prides itself on being a professional school of international affairs, and the professors place great emphasis on training students to be ready to tackle real-world issues.  A skill I particularly valued training for was the ability to express myself concisely.  I had many opportunities to practice this in writing terse two-page memos, where I had to summarize a problem and propose solutions.  One of my professors’ favorite word was actually “pith,” a topic on which he gave a talk every year.

Beyond the classroom my cultural experience in the United States was greatly enhanced by being a part of the Fulbright network.  I attended various Boston Fulbright mixers, meeting many engaging students from around America and the world.  One of my favorite experiences, though, was the Fulbright enrichment seminar I attended in St. Louis, Missouri.  I went there to learn about America’s westward expansion, but came away with much more.

I fondly remember spending time at a local daycare center in the outskirts of St. Louis.  It was a part of Head Start, a U.S. federal program intended to promote the school readiness for young children from lower-income families.  After being questioned by a little girl on “why I talked so funny,” I tried to explain that I was not from the United States.  I attempted to demonstrate this by using Play-Doh to create two blobs representing North America and Europe.  The lesson might only have been partially successful, but I left with a greater appreciation for how inquisitive young minds are, and how important programs like Head Start are in helping all children reach their full potential.

The Fulbright Program has allowed me to attain an education that I know will help me in my professional and personal life.  But, and perhaps more importantly, Fulbright also gave me the opportunity to walk those last three feet and meet so many people that have expanded my understanding of the world, its issues, and its people.  I would strongly encourage anyone considering becoming a part of this program to do so, the last steps toward someone might be the most important ones you ever take.

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Though our 2014 alumni graduated more than a year ago, I will continuing highlighting their work until the 2015 grads find theirs.  Today, Eirik Torsvoll tells us about his return to Norway and the start of his job.  Note that Eirik wrote his post earlier in the spring.

Jumbo and EirikAlthough I never would have believed it, time during my first year after graduation seems to have moved even faster than when I was a MALD student at Fletcher.  I was therefore a little taken aback when Jessica reminded me in November that it had been six months since graduation, and that she hoped I would still be able to write a blog post in the spring.  Things have now finally settled with moving back to Norway and starting work-life, so this is a good point in time to reflect on the initial post-Fletcher period.

The first few months after graduation were characterized by excitement and a little frustration.  It was exciting because I was eager to start a new chapter in my life and pursue various work opportunities in Norway, and frustrating because there was little actual activity in the job market during the summer months.  However, I took to heart the ever-helpful advice of the Fletcher Office of Career Services and used this time to reach out to interesting people and employers for so-called informational interviews.

Norway in Hall of FlagsThrough these interviews I met some fascinating people with plenty of helpful advice and insights.  Something I found particularly valuable was the recommendation to write and publish whenever I could.  I was told that being able to display an ability to write and communicate would always be appreciated wherever I applied for work, something I have found to be true.  During this period I therefore wrote a couple of op-eds for Norwegian newspapers (here and here), and I also published an article in the Fletcher Forum.

When things finally heated up in the job market I found that a Fletcher education certainly made me competitive.  Particularly, I think it was the breadth and depth of my education that made me stand out in the job market, as I could offer both relevant skills (such as memo writing) and a familiarity with pertinent issues (for example Asia-Pacific affairs).

Sometimes I would be astonished by which aspects of my Fletcher education proved useful.  For example, during one of my job interviews I was asked about how I would relate Carl von Clausewitz’s teachings with the practice of my prospective employer.  Having taken Prof. William Martel’s course on the evolution of grand strategy, I felt I could answer this challenging question adequately.  I obviously had to tell Prof. Martel about this afterwards, and his response — that he was pleased to hear that Clausewitz and grand strategy remained relevant — was the last I heard from him before his truly tragic passing this January.  (For those interested, Jessica wrote a beautiful post about Professor Martel after his departure.)

In the end, though, I ended up in a research position at PluriCourts, an Oslo-based research center for the study of the legitimate roles of the judiciary in the global order.  Much like Fletcher, PluriCourts employs an interdisciplinary approach, using political science, law, and philosophy to study the legitimacy of international courts and tribunals.  Since starting, I have been very thankful for the breadth requirements of my Fletcher education, as this was a field I originally had not expected to work in.  The ILO course on International Organizations, with its focus on the interaction between international law and politics, has been incredibly helpful in understanding the work PluriCourts does.

At GaustatoppenAt PluriCourts, I work closely with our researchers on their various projects, assist in the many workshops and seminars we organize, and everything in between.  The work also involves a bit of traveling, and soon I attended a workshop in Barcelona on the normative aspects of the legitimacy of international courts.  The research project I’m currently working on involves looking at the independence of international courts from states, and this requires a thorough assessment of the various courts based on a series of indicators.  It’s still in the preliminary stages of data collection and coding, and it’s really exciting to be a part of a research project from the very beginning.  This way, I’m able to both witness and be a part of how the project progresses.

All in all, the transition back to work life has been both fun and exciting.  I’m confident that Fletcher has prepared me well for the future challenges ahead, whichever way my career path takes me.

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Yesterday afternoon, students, professors, and staff members joined in a celebration of the decades-long Fletcher career of our registrar, Nora Moser McMillan.  Nora worked first as assistant registrar and then registrar, with a break between the two to teach English in Japan through the JET program.  As all the speakers at the celebration attested, she has made a profound mark on the school’s programs and the paths of our students.  Lucky for us, she’s really not leaving Fletcher just yet.  She’ll continue in a part-time capacity for a while, smoothing the transition to her successor.  Meanwhile, she will also have extra time to enjoy the summer with her adorable son, who joined us for the celebration yesterday.

Mary DulatreAnd today I’d like to introduce our new registrar (technically: registrar and manager of student academic programs), who is well known to us — Mary Dulatre, a 2012 Fletcher graduate.  While she was a MALD student, Mary worked as the student assistant in the Registrar’s Office, so her new post is a type of homecoming.  But for the past three years, she hasn’t been far away, working a few floors above us as assistant director of student affairs.  A happy example of a graduate who found her passion at Fletcher — even if it was a different passion than the one she expected to find.

Before Fletcher, Mary was a Fulbright scholar in the Philippines, a client case worker for AmeriCorps in San Diego, a community development specialist with the Peace Corps in Honduras, and a community outreach specialist for the American Red Cross in San Diego.  We’re looking forward to working with her in her new position, right across the hall from Admissions.

 

It’s Monday, so it must be time for another set of book suggestions from Fletcher faculty members.

From Prof. Conley-Zilkic at the World Peace FoundationRegarding the Pain of Others, by Susan Sontag; The Garden of Evening Mists: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, by Tan Twan Eng; and The Blood Telegram, by Gary Bass.  With her focus on mass atrocities, Prof. Conley-Zilkic’s suggestions will always be meaningful, but also unsettling.

Prof. Everett wrote, “I would like to suggest The Prize by Daniel Yergin, which is a great read and will introduce students to the long historical connection between the oil industry and geopolitics.”

Prof. Hannum, one of the law professors who provided their picks, suggested The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day, by David J. Hand.

And Prof. Klein notes, “For background reading, I would suggest Alan Blinder’s book on the financial and economic crisis, After the Music Stopped.”

I reached out recently to Carolyn McMahon (Class of 2012 graduate and current Fletcher staff member), who is the program officer for the Leadership Program for Financial Inclusion run by the Institute for Business in the Global Context.  I was unfamiliar with the details of the program, one of many that takes place around the usual degree programs, so let’s let Carolyn tell us about it.

Central Bankers.  Financial regulators.  Quick, what comes to mind?  Navy blue suits?  Entrenched bureaucracies?

How about: Inventive Thinkers.  Creative collaborators.  Alternative Pedagogy.  Peer-learning.  Challenging Assumptions.

150427_16707_FLPFI083.jpgWhen we tell people about The Fletcher Leadership Program for Financial Inclusion (FLPFI), it’s tough to counter these initial impressions.  Still, what we’re doing with this nine-month fellowship couldn’t be farther from a stodgy executive training.

FLPFI recruits and trains promising mid-career financial regulators from emerging and frontier market economies to bring fresh innovative thinking to financial policies and regulation.  Recruits are not only stewards of their countries’ financial stability but have professional mandates to create and promote safe and useful services for citizens at every income level, particularly the poor.

True to Fletcher’s ethos, the FLPFI experience is participatory and peer-based, with a commitment to honing practical skills and ensuring real world impact.

An innovative nine-month fellowship:

Since welcoming our first Fellow cohort in 2011, we’ve hosted 55 Fellows from 32 countries.  Their financial inclusion agendas are as diverse as their origins.  Fellows tackle challenges like SME (small- and medium-sized enterprise) financing, mobile services and payments, insurance, and agent banking.  On campus, Fellows meet Fletcher students and faculty, forging connections that have led to collaborations like summer internships and research opportunities.

Fellows of FLPFI spend nine months with a team of Fletcher faculty and industry experts.  They bring national expertise in regulation and new ideas for addressing financial inequities in their home countries.  Through online video modules, discussions, and in-person residencies, Fellows hone their policy ideas.  They learn best practices in financial inclusion policymaking from lecturers, Fletcher faculty, and each other, through highly participatory, charette-style sessions.  They learn methods of problem analysis and solution generation.  They test old assumptions and develop new theories.  They learn how to deploy media and public speaking to spread their ideas.  They inform and challenge each other.

Small program, big impact

150427_16707_FLPFI204.jpgFellows return home to implement their policies, armed with sharpened professional skills and fresh analytical perspectives.  They galvanize the support of high-level bureaucrats, and often partners such as CGAP, GSMA, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  FLPFI Fellows join a special part of the Fletcher community, creating a network of support, friendship and change makers within financial regulation.  Alumni What’sApp groups are aflutter even after graduation: on Monday, a Central Banker is posting a photo of his newborn; Tuesday, another is challenging conventional wisdom of small dollar accounts; and that afternoon a group is planning a rendezvous at the next international conference in Brazil.  The friendships built at FLPFI, like so many at Fletcher, transcend time zones and geographies.

Despite the program’s youth (the fourth cohort will graduate in September), several successful national policy victories have already been achieved by the Fellows.  Beyond regulatory change, program alumni benefit from continued support and elevated professional opportunities.  Many are invited to speak in international fora, take on leadership roles in regional organizations, and contribute to the global financial inclusion policy agenda.

Still, the program’s ability to forge lasting relationships across continents is a testament to its success and great potential.  FLPFI has succeeded in creating a microcosm of the Fletcher master’s experience for a group of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of their countrymen through more inclusive financial regulation.  Many great things lay ahead as the program enters its fifth year.

Inclusion fellows

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Continuing to aim for suggestions in a mix of fields, here’s the latest installment of the (utterly optional) summer reading list, provided by Fletcher professors.

The first suggestion comes from an unexpected place.  After last week’s posts ran, I received a note from Erin Coutts, the Outreach Coordinator for the Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute.  She had bumped into a tweet of one of the book lists and wanted to add a suggestion.  She wrote:

Jeffrey Ashe, a Research Fellow at Tufts’ Global Development And Environment Institute, has recently published In Their Own Hands: How Savings Groups are Revolutionizing Development, a history of community finance and financial empowerment.  Kim Wilson, a Fletcher Lecturer in International Business and Human Security and co-editor of Financial Promise for the Poor: How Groups Build Microsavings, called the book “essential for any practitioner interested in helping the poor transform small amounts of money into meaningful ways of changing their lives.”  In the book’s forward, Frances Moore Lappee proclaims that the stories in this book bury the myth that poor people have too little to save and that financial independence begins with a loan.

I’m happy to spread the word about a book by a Tufts professor, and I appreciate that Erin reached out to tell me about it.

Prof. Schaffner recommends The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Community on the Brink of Change, by Roger Thurow, noting that it “follows four real farm families in western Kenya through a year of hunger and hope.  It’s a great introduction to the difficult choices faced by poor rural households (something development economists think about a lot), which engages the heart as well as the mind.”

And, our last suggestion for today comes from Prof. Henrikson, who writes, “I would recommend:  Robert M. Gates, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.  The book is a remarkably candid reflection on American leadership, government and politics, written from a personal perspective and from deep knowledge of the affairs of the world.  It shows realism at its best, with humanism (and not simply power) at its center.”

FP sectionAround this time, blog readers tend to fall primarily into two groups — enrolling students and prospective students who are just getting going on their graduate school search.  For this latter group, I thought I’d share a special supplement to the December/January issue of Foreign Policy, entitled “Leaders in Higher Education.”  In addition to the advertisements from Fletcher and our peers, the article highlights the work of Dean Stavridis as an organizational leader and scholar.  Click on the photo to read more.

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CoolerBack in January, the Office of Admissions received silver level certification from the Tufts Office of Sustainability Green Office Certification Program.  Now that our online application process is a very light user of paper, we have our sights on gold level certification.  Making that leap will take some work, but we can tick the first box: we have given up our water cooler.  As such, we paused for a moment to say farewell as the cooler, and its empty bottles, hit the road.

Going for gold will require some more intentional changes than we needed for the silver level.  That particular accomplishment followed naturally from changes we made for other reasons (i.e. the new application).  But there’s no reason not to aim high!

 

 

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