I’m on my way to the last MALD/MA Admissions Committee for this year. We’re starting 30 minutes early to be sure we can finish our work. When we wrap up, we’ll have a celebratory cake (Shhhhhh! Don’t tell the Committee members. It’s a surprise!) and we’ll debrief and talk about ways to make the process even smoother in the future. All of the different degree program Admissions Committees will be wrapping up by next week, and we’re starting the final phase of the decision-making process.
Meanwhile, this week was swallowed up by a slew of projects, and I’m turning, a few days later than I would have liked, to writing posts to help applicants make sense of the various admission decisions. I think it’s really important to do this well in advance of the release of decisions, so that everyone has a chance to digest the information. Despite having missed my mid-week target, today I’ll share some info about what happens when an applicant isn’t admitted. Because, much as it saddens us, saying “no” is something we need to do.
When we review applications, we’re looking for a combination of academic potential, professional and international experience, and clear goals for study and a post-Fletcher career. Applicants who are denied admission might be missing one or more of those elements, or they might be just a little weak in all of them, particularly compared to the overall qualifications of admitted students.
Because gaining admission is your objective, falling short will inevitably feel like bad news, but we do make one distinction among those who will not be offered admission this year. Some applicants to the MALD and MIB programs will receive a letter saying that, though they look great overall, we really want them to gain some relevant professional experience, and it’s the work history that stands between them and the admission they hoped for. We’ll only use this “work deny” decision for applicants within about a year of their university graduation. (This year, that means 2013 and 2014 grads.) We encourage them to work for a couple of years, although (depending on their internship record), it could take more or less time for them to build their professional experience and become competitive applicants.
Here are two points to file away, in case you may find them useful later this year. The first is that Fletcher will provide feedback to applicants. If you’re planning to reapply, I encourage you to ask for feedback this spring. (That is, don’t wait until the month before your next application — you may want some time to make improvements.) We’ll accept feedback requests on May 1 and you’ll hear back from us within a month or so of your request.
The second is that Fletcher welcomes applicants to reapply. Someone who applies unsuccessfully, smooths up some of the rough points in the application, and reapplies in a subsequent year, has shown determination and a strong interest in the School — two qualities we love in our applicants.
Next week, I’ll turn to the waitlist and the various versions of admission.
With two references to the Diplomat’s Ball fundraiser in yesterday’s post, maybe you’re wondering what choice items are up for bid. I took a minute to note a few of the options:
Delicious Indian meal
Personal hair style session
Piano lesson from a professional pianist
Lesson on bagel making
Cantonese comfort food
Consultation on the process leading to U.S. permanent residency
Boston film tour, drinks, and endless Matt Damon facts
Introductory shooting session
Online dating profile consultation
“Nail Night” (fancy fingernails)
Two homemade apple pies (yum)
Learn Persian slang
Homemade Pakistani foodBut then, with the silent auction phase ending, and the live auction scheduled for last night, the Social List was buzzing yesterday with special promotions by those trying to draw bids on their offers. For example:
Maybe you’re inspired by the Pakistan cricket team’s recent stellar play and want to tap into another sport that Pakistanis dominate….
…Or maybe you want to learn the basics of what has been called the healthiest sport to play
…or maybe you want to get some face time with the Dean
If any of the above are true, you should bid on my squash lessons tonight at the live auction. While I can’t promise the level of dominance that other Pakistanis have been able to enjoy, I can teach you the basics. I will provide the venue, racquet, and ball.
Or then there’s:
Coffee Tour & Serenade: I will personally take you on a tour of the area’s premier coffee establishments. I’ll buy you coffee, tell you made-up facts about each place, and generally show you a good time. I will also sing to you…maybe in the car, maybe on the sidewalk…it’s a surprise.
If you come to the live auction tonight, you will have the privilege of bidding on a tour of the area’s premier coffee establishments. As I have recently returned from a tour of a working coffee plantation in Costa Rica, I am clearly the perfect guide for you.
The emailed descriptions only got crazier from that. But they all displayed the many talents (and some “talents”) of the student community.
Tagged with: Hall of Flags
No Faculty Spotlight feature today. I’m going to take a couple of weeks to collect more entries and load them into the blog format. Meanwhile, Kristen and I spent a little while in the Hall of Flags on Monday, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. For those who haven’t yet been for a visit, the Hall of Flags is the “town square” of Fletcher — everyone goes through there at some point each day. We reserved ourselves a table (by which I mean I stuck a note on it, saying that Admissions needed the table at 12:15), and we set up. Kristen was my Wrangler/Photographer. I asked the questions and took notes. Keeping things simple and casual, we just asked everyone what they’ve been up to. It’s a small sample, but it’s clear that students and professors both have a lot going on.
Kelsey (MALD): We’re both working on the Diplomat’s Ball fundraiser this week. It’s an activity auction, where students volunteer their skills, and other students bid on them, and it will help reduce Dip Ball costs. Some of the skills are cooking meals for other people, going rock climbing, and learning about how to drink whiskey. And then there are midterms. And my thesis.
Stephanie (MALD): I need to remember to get a haircut some time in the future. And I’m going to try to work with a professor for a conference this semester on state failure in Africa.
Jake (dual MALD and JD): I went skiing last weekend at Killington. This week I’m doing my problem sets for various classes and working on a Harvard Law and International Development Society project. This weekend, I’m probably going to the zoo with my 13-month-old daughter.
(Jake explained that the Harvard Law and International Development Society draws students from around the Boston area, including from Fletcher. Kristen and I noted that it’s not uncommon for the out-of-class activities that students pursue to involve homework. A happy nerdiness.)
Becca (MA): I just found out that we’re moving to Japan for three years. I’m a little bit overwhelmed right now, finishing up all my academic requirements. And I have two children. I’ll receive my orders, pack it all up, and move over there.
(Here, Kristen, who is organizing a move of her own, but only across town, commiserated, and shared some of her own move-induced anxiety.)
Becca: You can’t control everything. (Becca is in the Marine Corps.)
Peter (MALD): I just got off a call from our client for the consulting class, and we have a contact we’re supposed to reach out to this week. And we have a deliverable due on Friday.
Terrell (MALD): On Thursday, I organized an LGBT event with BU, BC, Harvard, MIT, and Tufts. We expected 40, and 130 turned up — it was a happy hour. Everyone was very excited – it hasn’t been done in a few years, and it’s going to be a great way to build community and make connections.
Prof. Chakravorti: Last week was an interesting week because in one day, I got a sense of the full span of Fletcher. In the afternoon I was talking to Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, the Fletcher Statesman-in-Residence and a former Iraqi National Security Advisor, about establishing a chain of KFCs in Baghdad. The broader topic was examining business as a stabilizing force in post conflict zones. Then I spoke with Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen from Google on how the new digital age is spreading power to the periphery of society, where everyone has power in their hands in the form of their smartphones, and what this digital rebalancing of power is going to mean.
(Eric Schmidt is the chairman of Google, and Jared Cohen is the director of Google Ideas.)
Laura (MALD): Here’s what my day looks like. Wake up at 7 a.m. for a call to Nairobi; help organize a silent auction for the Diplomat’s Ball; study for my class on education and armed conflict; bake a birthday cake for a military fellow; turn in an econometrics problem set; attend a fund raiser for the Fletcher Marathon Team; and read my Strategy and Innovation business cases.Prof. Drezner: I’m finishing the second edition of my zombie book. (Prof. Gallagher, who indulged us in a previous Hall of Flags visit, then hurried him along to some event that had them both looking pretty spiffy.)
Michael (dual MA-MD): The Social List has been boring this year, so I instigated some arguments about the situation in Ukraine, and I think we had some positive outcomes. I asked, why is it really in our interest to care about this? People got upset, they wrote back. As an aspiring doctor, I feel you have to be realistic about the options you have, and if you don’t understand your options, you’re not qualified to handle the job.
Anna (MIB): It’s very nice to be in a place where you can have many different points of view, especially very extreme views, because it’s through discussion that you better understand complex topics.
And with that, Kristen and I headed back to our respective corners. I always enjoy my HoF sessions. Maybe there’s still time for one more later this spring.
Tagged with: Hall of Flags
The Tufts Energy Conference is still coming up this weekend, and the spring semester is always loaded with activities that were planned throughout the academic year. Today (sticking with the environment theme), there’s “Fletcher’s Warming Arctic Conference,” which will start off in the Aidekman Arts Center. Why the Arts Center? Because Aidekman is the host of a timely exhibit, Seeing Glacial Time: Climate Change in the Arctic. I haven’t been over there to check out the exhibit yet, but I plan to visit one afternoon. (The exhibit was among the Boston Globe‘s picks of the week a little while back.)
Shifting gears to a warmer part of the world, and looking ahead about a month, Fletcher will host “Turkey’s Turn?” on April 10 and 11. The timing is right for admitted applicants to include the conference during an exploratory trip to Fletcher. Keep it in the back of your mind, or go ahead and reserve a spot.
Tagged with: Conferences
It isn’t true that every time I turn around there’s another update about something exciting happening in the environment field here at Fletcher, but it feels that way. Just this spring, here’s some of what we’ve heard:
First, we received an update from Prof. Gallagher, whom you read about on the blog just last week. She wrote:
Dear colleagues, students, and friends of Fletcher,
I am pleased to announce some exciting changes in the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP).
Last fall, I invited a number of faculty members from around Fletcher to join CIERP as Faculty Research Affiliates. These faculty members will be working in one or more of our five research programs. From Fletcher we are delighted to have Prof. Jenny Aker, an expert on development and agriculture. From the Economics Department at Tufts, Prof. Gilbert Metcalf, Prof. Kelsey Jack, and Prof. Ujjayant Chakravorty. From Political Science, we welcome Prof. Kent Portney who has agreed to direct our water and oceans program and who is an expert on water policy and sustainable cities, among other topics. We look forward to deepening our research collaborations with these outstanding faculty members at Tufts. As was already announced, we also look forward to having Prof. Avery Cohn in residence for the next academic year as our new professor of environment and resource policy. Avery will lead our Agriculture and Forests program.
Mieke van der Wansem, a long-standing staff member and Fletcher alumna, becomes the new Associate Director of Educational Programs. In this new role, she will enhance the overall effectiveness of CIERP in meeting its educational mission. She will work to expand and sustain executive education, help guide the development and implementation of environment and natural resource policy education initiatives inside and outside the classroom, and manage some of our research projects as appropriate.
Kelly Sims Gallagher
Then we learned that Prof. Gallagher and Prof. Portney had submitted a proposal to the Tufts University provost to create a new “bridge professor” position in the field of water security. Here’s their description:
The Water Security Bridge Professor would work in the interdisciplinary area of international environmental security, covering issues of political sovereignty, human rights, regional security, and sustainable development. It might also include a focus on the policies and mechanisms, military and nonmilitary, nations use in their efforts to gain and protect access to water. A regional focus could be both possible and desirable, for example, in Southeast Asia, the Arctic, and the states of the former Soviet Union.
As blogger, I should have the answer to the question of when the bridge professor will join us. I have to admit that I’m not sure, but I believe it will be for September 2015.
And then, there’s the annual Tufts Energy Conference coming up next weekend, March 8-9. As the conference website says:
The Tufts Energy Conference (TEC) is a two-day energy conference that brings together experts from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors with students and professionals to discuss critical global energy issues. The conference is entirely organized by students from a broad range of backgrounds in engineering, international affairs, urban planning, and economics. From a two-panel event in 2006, TEC has grown into one of the largest entirely student-run energy conferences in the region.
Experts from the private, public and nonprofit sectors, students, and professionals are all invited to attend TEC 2014 on March 8-9, 2014 (Saturday and Sunday), which will focus on Shifting Dynamics in Emerging Markets.
The conference agenda looks terrific! Come on over!
Last (or at least, the last piece of news I’ve been able to keep track of), there’s the 2014 Tufts Energy Competition, with a prize of $3,000 to jump-start an energy idea, and with a new-this-year solar competition:
Working on a project on energy or sustainability that can be transformed into a winning proposal? The Tufts Energy Competition is looking for your ideas. This competition is a celebration of innovative, student-driven solutions to energy challenges. The goal of the Tufts Energy Competition is ultimately to implement projects that explore solutions to key energy issues. The winning team will receive up to $3000 to implement their project and the runner-up team will receive $2000. Every Tufts student is eligible to apply, including engineering students, undergraduates, medical students, Fletcher students, and more.
Previous finalists and winners include:
• A Split Junction Solar Concentrator for More Efficient Electricity Generation
• Giving Students the Chance to Choose Their Energy
• Efficient Hygiene Initiatives: Bringing Ecological Sanitation to Thottiypatti
• Solar-Powered Uninterruptible Power Systems
• Ocean-Based Algae Energy
• Wind Turbines and Solar Cookers in Zimbabwe
• High Voltage Lithium Ion Battery Management System
The winner will be announced next weekend at the Tufts Energy Conference.
So that’s the round-up of a semester’s news for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy and generally in the field. And it’s news that assures us that next year will be exciting, too!
Tagged with: CIERP
This entry in the Faculty Spotlight feature comes from Bhaskar Chakravorti, Fletcher’s Senior Associate Dean of International Business and Finance, and the founding Executive Director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context. He is the author of The Slow Pace of Fast Change. He currently teaches Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business and Strategic Management, a module offered during the August pre-session attended by all students in the Master of International Business program. Dean Chakravorti here describes his real-world business education and his perspective on contextual intelligence that resulted.
From 1994 to 1995, I was traveling across Africa, exploring interest among various governments and telecommunications service companies in investment in the continent’s first undersea fiber-optic network. This would be a breakthrough communication technology, with the power of connecting an excluded and fragmented continent with itself, with the world, and to this newly emerging phenomenon — that none of us quite understood at the time — called the Internet.
Given its economic heft, South Africa was among my first ports of call. Those were exciting times for the country. The ANC had just assumed power and Nelson Mandela had made history as the country’s first black president. The world was suddenly considering how to connect to this hitherto isolated country and embracing a potential economic and political powerhouse.
I made what I thought was a brilliant presentation to senior bureaucrats and technologists. In my view, I had quite convincingly made the case for South Africa to be the key anchor for a fiber-optic ring that would encircle the continent with branches taking off toward other continents.
Turns out, my case wasn’t as rock solid as I had imagined. A senior minister took me aside the next day and asked if we could scrap the plans for a ring around Africa and just do a single cable that linked South Africa to …. Malaysia. That’s it. Just Malaysia. But that makes no business sense whatsoever, I protested. The minister explained that Mandela had visited Malaysia the previous year and had struck up a close friendship with Prime Minister Mahathir. The two had agreed on cooperation on many fronts. Most significantly, Malaysia had pledged help in providing voter education to South Africa, a country where nearly 18 million out of the 20 million citizens would cast their ballots for the first time, with half of the 18 million illiterate. And now, post-election, it was critical that the bonds be strengthened further.
“But consider the economics,” I continued. “A single link to Malaysia would be frightfully expensive and would not have the traffic to justify it. You would forgo the chance to connect with the rest of Africa.”
The minister politely, but firmly, let me know that while I seemed smart enough, I was not as clever as I thought I was. “You do not argue with Nelson Mandela,” he said.
Trained as an economist, this was my first small step toward an appreciation for contextual intelligence. The linear logic of business and all its analysis could not — and should not — ignore the momentum of emerging geopolitical alliances. Malaysia was already among the first of South Africa’s allies; there was a stronger relationship to be built. Mandela had personally asked for this cable as a symbol and a conduit.
Still frustrated, I walked the corridors of South Africa Telkom and ran into the old guard. These were engineers and network planners; surely, they understood economics and net present value analysis. I told them my story. They agreed that the Mandela proposal was nonsense. What was needed was a fiber-optic link directly connecting South Africa to Northern Europe. “What about connectivity to the rest of Africa?” I asked.
“Who cares about the rest of Africa?” was the universal opinion.
This was my second lesson in contextual intelligence. The old guard was all white. They were frightened about what was going to come next as their secluded reality had come to an end. While their argument was couched in business terms (after all, Northern Europe was where the business would be), their real reason was history: They desperately wanted a conduit back to the old days and to some semblance of a world that they had known all their lives. They were ready to make a “business” argument that was, in reality, an agenda that harkened back to a colonial legacy.
Yes, I was there at a true inflection point, armed with the finest analysis possible, elaborate layers of spreadsheets, and well-crafted presentations. However, real decisions are based on myriad other factors. In this case, there was, first, a big future envisioned by a master politician — and already a living legend — who could imagine the unimaginable. And second, there was a past that, while it had become politically irrelevant, still had the technocratic expertise to exert a pull in an opposite direction. If South Africa was to develop, it could not afford to ignore the technocrats entirely.
I redid the analysis. We modeled-in the geo-political assumptions, accounted for different connectivity scenarios and their socio-political ramifications as well as economic impact. We resumed the debate in a more holistic manner. Context is, indeed, king. You should embrace it, understand it, and make it central to your business model analysis; most importantly, you should not ignore or fight it.
I have taken this lesson to heart, so much so that I now run Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context. Many students arrive at Fletcher with deep life experience that guides their understanding of centrality of context, but they aim to strengthen their business skills. Others have rich business and technical skills, and they seek to develop their contextual intelligence. Together, we are building a new approach to international business, one that factors in how business decisions connect with non-business factors, such as politics, history, and the human condition.
Tagged with: Faculty Spotlight
As I mentioned last week, nearly all applications have been read twice now, which means they’re hurtling down the track toward final decision-making and processing. For now, I’ll need to stay annoyingly cagey on when decisions will be released, but we know it will be around the middle of March. We’re not quite close enough to give a specific date, and we have also been plagued with technical problems through much of this year so we want to leave ourselves some wriggle room. (Happily, most of the technical troubles have resolved in the last few months, and we’re optimistic that all will go smoothly.)
An applicant asked me recently about the reading process. I think that each of our Committee readers has a slightly different approach toward an application file, but that ultimately most of us read from front to back. We arrange each application in a standard way (application form, résumé, transcripts, test scores, essays, recommendations, correspondence, interview report), and it’s just easiest to go through the pages one-by-one. That said, there’s a lot of flipping back and forth.
What have we been looking for? The bottom line is always that applicants need to be able to succeed in the classroom. In some cases, there’s perfect confluence between undergraduate transcripts, test scores, and recommendations. In other cases, a student may have slipped up a bit as an undergrad, and we’ll rely a little more heavily on the test scores and recommendations. Or an applicant may be a poor test taker, and we may set aside the test scores, in favor of the transcript. In any event, we’re looking hard at all the data.
Beyond that, we want to admit students for whom Fletcher is a good match and who, with the benefit of their Fletcher education, are likely to achieve their goals. For this information, we’re looking at the essays, recommendations, past professional experience, and even the academic record. (Some applicants travel a linear road from undergraduate studies, through professional experience, to Fletcher and beyond.) Of course, we also look to bring into our community people who will add to the richness of the student and alumni groups.
None of this information is new, of course, and I’ve written about it before. What’s new, instead, are the blog’s readers (applicants). If there’s a message that I’d want you to take away from this post, it’s simply that we look carefully through all the materials in an application. For some of us (who are bad with names), your identity will be more tied to your experience than what others generally call you. (As in “remember that guy who went to Tufts undergrad and then did Peace Corps in Ecuador?”)
I know that the decision process remains a mystery to most applicants, so I hope this post at least reassures you that every application is reviewed thoroughly and carefully.
Sometimes I take a look at my “to-do list” and all creativity leaves the building. On those days, I’m glad to be able to point you toward other Fletcher writers, and there’s a bounty of material to share!
Hot off the wire this morning is an op-ed by Haider Mullick, a Fletcher PhD candidate.
Also timely, this article from Foreign Affairs, co-authored by second-year MIB students, Jianwei Dong and Kate Fedosova, along with Dean Chakravorti (about whom you’ll be reading more in the blog on Wednesday).
And then there’s this update from The Fletcher Forum.
Dear Fletcher students, faculty, and staff,
We hope you’ve been following The Fletcher Forum’s ongoing conversation on Climate Change as part of the 2014 Global Risk Forum. These past two weeks, we’ve had some very interesting articles on how we might approach and mitigate this global risk.
Professor William Moomaw opened the conversation arguing that Restorative Development — meeting our needs while allowing nature to do its job — is an essential element of any strategy for tackling climate change. Fletcher PhD candidate Laura Kuhl responded by arguing that while Restorative Development may be a helpful approach to integrate mitigation, adaptation, and development goals, we should remain cautiously optimistic, since so much depends on how such an approach is implemented on the ground.
We then heard from Dr. Richard Houghton, the Acting President and senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Dr. Houghton argued for an alternative strategy: forest management, which he thinks can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions. But it is not a permanent strategy, he argues, and the window of opportunity may be closing.
Next, Fletcher MALD student Caroline Ott responded that by focusing on the risks posed by the current fragility of climate negotiations, we are investing too heavily in a process whose outcome is not essential to the goals of emissions reductions and climate adaptation. Rather than looking to climate negotiations as the finish line for a climate treaty, she argues, we should be using these talks to incite action from a range of bilateral and philanthropic institutions.
We are very pleased with the intellectual caliber of these perspectives and ideas about how to mitigate one of the critical global risks we are facing as an international community. We hope you’ll continue reading these conversations and submit your own responses to email@example.com. You can also engage with us on social media, follow us on twitter @FletcherForum, and tweet using #2014RiskForum.
Outside of our Global Risk conversations, we have additional recent content that may interest you as well — ranging from the role of Hezbollah in the Middle East to the impact of Artificial Intelligence technology on state power.
You can read more of our recent content here:
Metastasizing Menace: Hezbollah as a Regional Player, by Massaab Al-Aloosy
On Artificial Intelligence and Meta-Geopolitics, by Nayef Al-Rodhan
Reevaluating Ethopian-Saudi Ties Amid Migrant Worker Crackdown, by Alemayehu Weldemariam
-The Fletcher Forum Online
I trust that all these articles and op-eds will more than take the place of whatever I might have written today. I’ll do my best to create some interesting content for tomorrow.
Tagged with: Fletcher Forum
The School is super quiet today — there are no classes because many students are in Washington, DC on the career trip organized by our Office of Career Services. And one of the DC travelers is student blogger Diane. Last month, Diane joined the annual New York career trip, and she recently sent along this report. I’ve been slow to prompt the student bloggers to write lately, and I’m glad that Diane is kicking off the spring semester for us.
In typical Fletcher fashion, the start of my second semester at Fletcher was extremely busy. After returning from winter break, when I spent three weeks in Montreal practicing my French and training for a Boston winter (it reached minus 27 degrees Celsius in Montreal), I returned to Fletcher early to prepare for the semester ahead. However, before the official start to Spring Semester, there was one more event to attend.
Among the best known aspects of Fletcher are its strong alumni community and the strength of the Office of Career Services (OCS). OCS organizes a number of networking events for its current students throughout the year, and the New York career trip was scheduled for the weekend right before classes began. I went to New York a couple of days early so that I could visit friends and meet up with old colleagues from the UN. I don’t need much of an excuse to go and visit, and I was really excited to be back in town for a few days.
The career trip was a whirlwind. I had booked myself for a full day of events and meetings, starting with two career panels in the morning. These panels were a great opportunity to meet and hear from a number of alumni who work in my area of interest, humanitarian affairs, about the transition from Fletcher to the working world, as well as the different directions their careers have taken.
Next, along with two other students, I had an intimate lunch with a Fletcher graduate who now works at Smile Train. It was a really interesting organization to visit, and the passion of this small non-profit was clearly evident by how much they are achieving with such a small staff.
After lunch, I rushed off to a site visit with One Acre Fund. This was one of my favorite meetings, as this organization is so young and has such a special way of operating. It really made me reevaluate what I hope to do once I graduate from Fletcher, and the type of organization I want to work for.
I then hurried to an event organized by the Fletcher Women’s Network. This was a different experience from the rest of the day, as the alumnae here were less interested in my elevator pitch, and instead wished to inspire our group of young Fletcher women to aim to achieve anything we want, and to try to have it all. It was really nice to see how supportive they were to current students, and it reminded me that this community lasts a lifetime.
The final event of the day was a reception where a few hundred students and alumni gathered to network and catch up over drinks. I was lucky enough to end my day with some close Fletcher friends, having a belated birthday celebration over dinner. Needless to say, I returned home exhausted and exhilarated, eager to start the semester and utilize all the advice I had just been given.
Today’s Faculty Spotlight introduction comes from a member of a select subset of the Fletcher faculty: professors who also graduated from Fletcher, where Kelly Sims Gallagher received both her MALD and PhD. Prof. Gallagher currently teaches Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy and Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity, and she directs the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
My favorite moment from my years as a student at Fletcher (many years ago now) occurred during my Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China class. Our deliberate Professor Alan Wachman embarked on his lecture on the Korean War, but got no further than about five minutes into the lecture when a hand was raised. “Yes, General?” he asked. My fellow classmate, a retired Korean general in the MALD program, slowly rose to his feet and announced, “I was there.” He then proceeded to give his own reflections on the war in general, and China’s role specifically. It was a classic Fletcher moment where (1) the global perspective is naturally provided in the classroom, (2) everyone was riveted by the moment, (3) history vividly sprang to life, and (4) the class took on a life of its own.
As a current professor, I try to foster and cultivate such moments in my own classes. Let me provide a couple of examples. In my Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy class, we do a simulation of the international climate negotiations every year, right before the annual conference of parties. Most years, we have actual climate negotiators in the class, but they never get to represent their own countries — instead, I put them into their primary adversary’s role. Most recently, I had an actual Chinese negotiator play the role of the Special Envoy for Climate Change in the United States. He set an amazing tone and forcefully argued his positions until one moment when the color in his face rose until he was bright red with emotion. We all watched with appreciation as he managed to develop an argument that he certainly violently disagreed with personally. Not only did he learn a great deal from being able to sit in the shoes of his opponent, but the rest of the class could not help but appreciate the duality of his situation. Students also got to hear during the debrief about what “really happens” in those informal negotiations in the middle of the night.
In my class this semester on Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity, we have two engineers who have actually worked on technology development, one patent expert, former Intel and Shell employees, an economist, and a dozen others from at least eight different countries who have all engaged in the innovation process somehow, somewhere. This spring, our class has been invited by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs to contribute background briefs on the role of technology in delivering sustainable development for the upcoming first-ever Global Sustainable Development Report. As we march through the theory, we will simultaneously study case studies, and uncover and evaluate the empirical evidence about how innovation can contribute to sustainable prosperity.
Classes at Fletcher don’t stagnate; they are dynamically evolving every day, enriched by professors and students working together in a spirit of engaged, respectful inquiry.
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