From the monthly archives: April 2011

During an online chat this spring, one of us mistyped a word and ended up referring to the “buzzling” in the Hall of Flags.  I like the concept — a blend of bustling and buzzing.  So I’ve decided to hang out in the HoF for a while, trying to capture some of the buzzle.  I’ll also pretend to do try to do some work at the same time.

10:15 — Not much buzzling at the moment, but I have my cup of mint tea to occupy me.

10:35:  My first visitor.  Second-year student Chris Murray just stopped by and asked if I’ve been tossed out of my office.  Here he is, saying hi to everyone out in blog land.

Chris was just returning from his oral exam in Chinese.  He passed — YAY!  I asked him what he discussed with the examiner, and he said they chatted about Chris’s pre-Fletcher job, Chinese foreign policy, and other Fletcher-ish topics.

10:55:  When I first sat down, I overheard someone saying that he had never seen the Hall of Flags so quiet.  Not a good day to document the buzzle, I guess.  There are a few more people hanging out now.

11:05:  Finally, some activity.  First, Prof. Babbitt stopped by to talk a little business.

And classes changed, so there was some mingling.

11:15:  Sitting here is a great way to catch up with people.  Lots of students visit the Admissions Office, but they usually have some special business when they’re there.  Perching at a Hall of Flags table is definitely the way to generate casual on-the-fly conversations.

11:20:  Jeff just came by to see if I’m still out here.  He pulled Patrick and Fatema into a quick photo.

11:25:  There’s a study group behind me.  I haven’t figured out what class they’re preparing for.  Serious science content, but also business.  Now they’re talking about sugar cane in Brazil.

11:30:  Time to wrap up my hour of live blogging.  But not before I tell you about one more visitor to my HoF table.  Kevin Meehan is the first person most visitors to the School will meet.  He’s also the go-to guy for all questions about building issues, including booking rooms for meetings, lectures, study groups, student groups, etc., etc.  During his visit to my table, Kevin told me he didn’t know Admissions has a blog.  Now he does!

This was a fun hour — it passed in a flash.  Classes end tomorrow, and the Hall will be very quiet through study week and finals.  But I’m going to make a note to blog from the Hall of Flags again in the fall.  If nothing else, it gives me a chance to catch up with so many people I don’t see day-to-day.


Among the student groups that are wrapping up their year’s work are the Fletcher publications.  Check out their websites, which contain the current or recent issues.

Al Nakhlah is the School’s online journal on Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization.

The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, founded in 1975, is the School’s student-run foreign policy journal.

Ideas Journal:  International Development, Environment, and Sustainability is the online journal of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.

Praxis:  The Fletcher Journal of Human Security is a three-decade old journal, which its editors describe as exploring “the intersections between the historically separate fields of humanitarianism, development, human rights, and conflict resolution.”

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Each year, one or two Tufts University students are selected to guide their classmates through the process of thinking about and applying for U.S. Government internships and jobs.  To apply for this position of Federal Service Student Ambassador, the students must first have held a summer internship with the government.  This year, two second-year Fletcher MALD students, Amy Patanasinth and David Wallsh, were selected.  Here, Amy and David describe their yearlong role as 2010-2011 Federal Service Student Ambassadors.

Fletcher students are incredibly lucky to have a fantastic Office of Career Services as a resource.  While working with OCS, Fletcher students can also draw on us — the University’s two Federal Service Student Ambassadors.  We have been selected by The Partnership for Public Service, which aims to revitalize the U.S. government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.  Fletcher and other units of Tufts both attract students and produce graduates that are exactly what the federal government needs.  We help these students find and apply for internships and jobs with the government by holding workshops and advising students on an individual basis.

At Tufts, the Federal Service Student Ambassadors also work closely with the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.  The Tisch College is a fantastic resource for all Tufts students.  It is a unique university-wide program that sets the standard in the U.S. with programming and research designed to promote higher education’s role in civic engagement.  We have also established relationships with various academic departments, including the political science department, which have advertised relevant opportunities to interested students.  Lastly, we have aimed to raise awareness in Tufts’s many other graduate schools about federal service opportunities in diverse fields, such as engineering, public health, urban and environmental planning, and many more!

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I described, last week, the frenzy of erudite discussion that takes place at Fletcher each March/April.  But this community is not content to spend each day engaged only in brain-expanding activities, and the end of the spring semester also sees the culmination of the year’s socializing and celebrating.

In recent weeks (or coming soon), students (and sometimes staff and professors) have chosen or will choose whether to attend (in no particular order):

◊  The “Diplomats’ Ball” — also known as the Fletcher prom — for which attendees dress up in their black-tie-optional finest.  Taking place this Saturday, these well-scrubbed community members will spend the evening dining, dancing, and floating around the Boston Harbor on a yacht.
◊  A first-years vs. second-years soccer game, at which (I suppose) all inter-Fletcher rivalries played out.
◊  Mediterranean Night (MedVolution), the last of the year’s student-organized “culture nights,” with proceeds going to Inspire Dreams.
◊  The annual study-week visit to the house of Prof. Hess, a wonderful day of sunshine and friends, far from campus.
◊  The “Fletcher Follies” — a lively celebration of all things Fletcher.  I saw the first half of Thursday’s show.  Very fun!  And funny!  (I may be able to share a video later this week.)
◊  The 2011 Date Auction for Charity.  This event, a couple of weeks back, was one of my faves from the spring.  Not only did it support two good causes (the Afghan Scholars Initiative and Fonkoze Haiti), but the lead-up to the event gave us the chance to read the creative sales pitches by Kim Liao, in which she “advertised” the students being auctioned for a date.  For example:

Bid on Natalia, the Securitizing Siren.  With her sweet, soulful eyes, Natalia disarms you with her charm the moment you meet her, but what you don’t know is that she has killer financial-product-structuring capabilities that would make even Jacque survivors weep. You think you’re a tough dude?  She can go head-to-head with you on the economic and technical merits of automobiles and tractor trailers.  Cultured, classy, and sassy, Natalia floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Find out if you’re up for the challenge by bidding for an afternoon with this rare Slovakian beauty.

With so much going on (both intellectual and less-so), it’s no wonder that the staff suffers over the sudden absence of students at the end of May each year.  For the next month, though, I can continue to enjoy the promotions for, and news of, Fletcher events.


A little extra frenzy around the Admissions Office this week.  First, we’ve had some coming and going among staff members, with several of us taking a few days away from work for post-decision family visits.  Then, Monday was a public holiday and the office was closed, which increased the phone calls/emails/foot traffic from Tuesday onwards.

Continuing through the week, yesterday was the deadline for most admitted students to make their enrollment decision.  (Next step for that process is to figure out how many admitted students have accepted our offer, and whether we’ll need to admit waitlisted applicants.)

And, finally, today is the deadline for our current students to submit an application for the renewal of their scholarships for next year.  This shouldn’t really create much work for us, since the application is fairly simple and routine, but you know how people are about deadlines.  At least a quarter of the applications have flowed in today.

From my own perspective, since I’m the scholarship application collector, this means a shortage of interesting blog posts for the rest of the week.  I’ll be back on Monday, once the scholarship applications (and related questions) are tucked in a box and I’ve managed to clear my email backlog.

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April is a crazy time at Fletcher!  Classes are nearing their conclusion on the 29th, which should be enough to keep students busy.  But added to the reading, paper writing, and test taking, is a sudden burst of lectures and conferences that are the culmination of the year’s work of the School’s groups, programs, and faculty.

Cheating a bit by starting off on March 30, I’m going to list some of the events from which Fletcher students have been choosing.  Coming up, or recently passed, we have:

The Center for Emerging Markets Enterprise conference on country management.
The WSSS (Water:  Systems, Science and Society) symposium on Water in 2050.
The Tufts Institute for Global Leadership conference on A World of (wiki) Leaks.
The World Economic Forum at The Fletcher School.
The Killing Cash conference.

That may not even capture all the conferences since, for all I know, another notice will go out by email as soon as I post this blog entry.

And in addition to the conferences, there have been lectures (Bob Woodward) and films (The Dark Side of Chocolate) and book talks (Prof. Ian Johnstone) and more.  In sum, a zillion opportunities to learn (and procrastinate) before the end of the semester and exams.

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A quick note that the Admissions Office, like all administrative offices at Tufts University, will be closed today for the Patriot’s Day holiday.  Admissions staffers will be busy cheering for the Fletcher marathon team!


Monday is a public holiday but, more important, it’s the day when 25,000 runners will participate in the 115th annual Boston Marathon.  Known for its difficulty, the Marathon is a key cultural event in this area.

Among the 25,000 runners, you’ll find 200 participants in the Tufts University President’s Marathon Challenge.  And of those 200, 15 are Fletcher students!  While the runners have done the real work, the community has stepped up to do its part.  Each runner on the PMC team is required to raise $1,000 for selected charities, and Fletcher students ate pizza and drank beer at restaurant and pub-night fundraisers to boost the runners toward their fundraising targets.  (Quite effectively, too, since two Fletcher runners –Dahm and Jun — are leading the PMC lists for funds raised.)  And on Monday, fellow students will play another important role when they answer the team’s request:  “Because 26.2 miles will be less painful if we can see your shining faces that day, we’d love it if you would come out, grab a spot, and enjoy the day with us.”

So the Admissions Blog now presents the 2011 Fletcher Marathon Team, with each name linked to a PMC page for photos and training updates.  If you happen to find yourself along the race course on Monday, please cheer them on!

Suzanne Andrews
Shayne Arcilla
Sara Blankenship
Mieke Breck
Cara Chebuske
Dahm Choi
Jacqui Deelstra
Mary Dulatre
Eduardo Garcia
Emily Nohner
Annika Rigole
James Siegel
Marianne Smallwood
Nanako Tamaru
Jun Tazawa

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Go to your favorite news source, be it newspaper, television, or website, and try to find a day’s news that is free of economics.  Unless your idea of news is celebrity gossip, the search will likely end unsuccessfully.  Similarly, you simply can’t study international affairs if you’re going to play out your most extreme quant-phobia.

Just like the language learners I wrote about recently, I can divide Fletcher students into three groups:

1.  Quant/econ lovers and experts
2.  Those with basic quant/econ exposure
3.  Those who, for reasons of preference or academic program design, haven’t had any quantitative coursework after high school.

The MIB program has (not surprisingly) a strong quantitative focus, and consequently is the only program that may decide to make admission conditional on pre-Fletcher quantitative study (but did so for only a few applicants this year).  This post is not really for the MIBers.

In fact, I’m going to focus on the MALD students who comprise the majority of the entering class.  You’ll face two requirements relevant to today’s topic.  First, you need to take at least one course in the Division of Economics and International Business.  Unless you pass the placement test offered before each semester, the course you’ll take is EIB E201, Introduction to Economic Theory.  Second, you have a quantitative reasoning requirement, which can be fulfilled through a placement test or by taking one of five courses.

Returning to my three groups.  Those in Group One will pass the placement exams, and will have every opportunity to take as many courses in the Economics and International Business division as their schedules allow.  Finance!  Econometrics!  Accounting!  It’s all here for you.  The econ/quant requirement at Fletcher is gentle, but not limiting!  Crunch those numbers, Fletcher friends!

Those in Group Two have two choices.  One is to take the basic economics and quantitative reasoning courses.  The other option is to study a bit this summer to brush up your skills with the intention of passing the placement tests.  While the basic courses are valuable, Fletcher gives you the mechanism (and choice) to move past them and go directly to the material that most interests you.

Those in Group Three face a decision similar to that of Group Two.  You can simply go along and take the basic courses — the path of least resistance, which will still provide you with the skills you need.  But if you want to try to test out, you should plan to pursue formal study this summer.  The good news is that economics and statistics classes are among the easiest to find; they’re offered by a wide range of local colleges or even online.  Either way, if you discover a heretofore unknown love of numbers, you can move on to pursue as many EIB courses as you want!

The flexibility of Fletcher’s curriculum frees you to approach economics and quantitative reasoning in the way that suits you best:  start with the basics here, or test out and fill your curriculum with classes of your choosing.  Give it some thought now, so that you’re ready to make the right decision when you start your studies.


In what is getting to be another annual Fletcher tradition, several students had great results in the University’s $100K Business Plan Competition last week.

Within the Social Entrepreneurship category, both the first-place and third-place teams included Fletcher students.  The first-place winner, Sanergy, with first-year MALD student Gaurav Tiwari on the team, developed a low-cost water-free toilet made of local materials for use in rural Kenya.

The third place team in the category, Educate Lanka, includes first-year MALD students Manjula Dissanayake and Sadruddin Salman, and aims to sponsor underprivileged children in Sri Lanka to provide them with an education.

Check out the coverage in MHT (Mass High Tech).  Congratulations to Gaurav, Manjula, Sadruddin, and all the people their ideas will inspire and help!

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