From the monthly archives: December 2011

The Admissions Office will be closed tomorrow, December 30, and Monday, January 2, for the New Year’s holiday.  We’ll be back to full strength on Tuesday, January 3.

Wishing blog readers everywhere a peaceful and successful 2012.


My daughter Kayla, under pressure both internally generated and externally imposed by her mother, submitted the last of her college applications early last week.  A brief family celebration marked the final application fee payment.  Now she can start to track the applications and ensure they’re complete, followed by sitting back and relaxing (until it’s time to fret about the results).

Dear blog reader, do you envy Kayla?  Why not join her?  If you submit your application by January 3, we’ll have two work weeks before the January 15 deadline in which to unite your application with test scores and other materials.  In fact, so long as your online recommendations have been received, you’ll be able to monitor your file’s completion before our more, well, deadline-pushing applicants have even submitted theirs.

(And if your recommenders haven’t yet submitted their letters, the fact that your application is waiting for them may just be the little nudge they need.)

To be sure, I’m not telling you to submit essays that you haven’t had time to proofread, or transcripts that will be updated in just a few days.  If there’s a reason why your application will be better or more complete on January 15 than it is now, then you should certainly wait.  But I know there are a lot of you out there, who either aren’t yet feeling much time pressure, or who actually have all the essays written and forms complete, but simply can’t bear to press the button.

Do it, intrepid applicant — take the plunge and submit the application.  Start the year off right.

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If you’re ever looking for the past blog posts on particular topics, you now have four means of finding them.  They’re all off to the left, but to save you the trouble of scrolling, they are:

With the search function

And with the new Tag Cloud

Creating the Tag Cloud required going back and tagging old posts.  We covered a few years’ worth, but the earliest posts will be tagged when the mood strikes me.

You may also have noticed the new button for “liking” the posts on Facebook.  No major changes, but a little updating to a blog that is in its sixth year.


The Admissions Office, along with the rest of The Fletcher School, will be closed today, December 23, through Monday, December 26.  If you have questions, please contact us on Tuesday, or you can always send an email that will be answered when we return.

Happy holidays to all!


Dean Uvin invited feedback on his Top 10 of 2011 list, and students didn’t hold back.  I’ve snatched as many comments off the Social List as I could reasonably fit in the blog but, fortunately, a plugged-in student, Michael, solved my space problem by creating a scholarly archive of the suggestions for this year and 2010, saying:

For your studying convenience, I’ve compiled the albums and songs recommended by Dean Uvin and fellow students into a single public Spotify playlist: Fletcher Music 2011: The Groovin’ Uvin Project (  Last year’s recommendations are in a second playlist, Fletcher Music 2010: Before the ‘Stache (

Blog readers, please check out the Spotify lists for the two scholarly works.  (I included the url as I’ve had inconsistent success in opening the lists from a link.  Plug the address into the Spotify search box.)  But, because you might want to know what comments accompanied the choices, I’ve compiled a few.  Here (with my apologies if I missed typos in unfamiliar album titles) are the students’ contributions to the listening pleasure of the community, with a little marker (~~~~~~) to indicate a change from one student to the next.


This was my favorite thread last year and my favorite again (albeit I still think too early — there’s a whole month left).  With that said…Here are my top 10:
1. Girls — Father, Son, Holy Ghost
2. Youth Lagoon — The Year of Hibernation
3. The Weekend — House of Balloons/Thursday
4. James Blake — James Blake
5. St. Vincent — Strange Mercy
6. Drake — Take Care
7. Tune-Yards — WHOKILL
8. Los Campesinos — Hello Sadness
9. M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
10. The Antlers — Burst Apart
If I were to include reissues: The Rolling Stones — Some Girls reissue is awesome, but the Beach Boys — Smile Sessions is mind blowingly awesome. The outtakes for “Heroes and Villains” are amazing on their own.

Raphael Saadiq — Stone Rollin’.  For those vintage soul fans:
M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.  Sweet electropop with great melodies.
Jay-Z and Kanye West — Watch the Throne.  The best of the two best in hip hop.
Kurt Vile — Smoke Ring For My Halo.  Guitar driven rawk a la Burce Springsteen or Jeff Buckley (but more clever).
Fleet Foxes — Helplessness Blues.  Gorgeous, accoustic-inspired indie rock and complex harmonies.
Lykke Li — Wounded Rhymes.  Ephemeral Swedish pop that was the soundtrack to my summer.

Assuming the role of Debbie Downer, I have to say I found it to be a really disappointing year musically.  More and more bands sound the same and like too many other bands that came before them — like rock/pop music’s death by entropy.  In some cases, it can work really well (such as M83 shamelessly channeling the 80s) but in most cases it just sounds boring and samey.  Which leads to my thesis:  “Has rock/pop music exhausted itself as a genre and done everything it can do?”  I’m pretty sure I could get Dean Uvin to sign on as a thesis adviser.

Holy Ghost! — Holy Ghost! For those of you into the indie dance genre… Fun, smart, hip disco groove full-length album from two New York guys on DFA (the label of LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair, Hot Chip…).

Brigitte — Et vous, tu m’aimes? The album is a standout — ranging from pop ditty to cover of a rap song to country inspired to a finale of a gospel song turned upside down called “Jesus sex symbol.”  Listening will help you with your language exam!

Feist — Metals. Music on this album hovers around the intersection of indie and alt country, a good place for her, and one which she inhabits beautifully. It is such a mature album; I love it.

The Weekend — House of Balloons. Dark and brooding genre-bending debut from a 20-year old Toronto kid. Blew up after a tweet from Drake. Download for free on his website and become one with your morose self.

Tune-Yards — W H O K I L L. Lo-fi eclectic sonic collage. Merrill Garbus rocks and did this whole album on her own. This will give you an idea.

I would be oh so sad if Florence and The Machine’s new album Ceremonials wasn’t in the running. That girl has some piiiiiiiipes. It’s the perfect mix of gut wrenching, rock it out, go-out-there-and-win-this-thing inspiration.  AND Beriut’s The Rip Tide album. Love the vibrato of his voice and the horn harmonies are fantastic.

Dean Uvin. Once again making sure we learn the important things.

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Uninterested in a complete break from Fletcher, our students have once again leaped forward to offer some of their vacation time to meet with prospective students over a cup of coffee.  We experimented with the Coffee Hours last summer, decided they were a big hit, and are excited to be able to connect current and future students again.

There’s a loooooong list of locations for the coffee hours.  Check it out on our web site.

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By the time I sat down to breakfast yesterday, I had already heard Fletcher Dean Stephen Bosworth speak at length on the radio about the death of Kim Jong Il.  His first morning interview was followed by an hour on our local NPR station, interviews with The Boston Globe, The Financial Times, Bloomberg News, other NPR shows, our local CBS affiliate, as well as the Tufts web site.   Content from those interviews turned up in blogs and foreign media.  Dean Bosworth recently stepped down as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy and previously served as ambassador to the Republic of Korea.  With no official government role at this time, he is freer to offer his opinions on events on the Korean Peninsula.


Decisions on our Early Notification applications went out on Friday, and we’re receiving questions on what it all means.  If you’ve been admitted, congratulations!  I’ll assume you don’t require much more explanation.  On the other end of the happiness spectrum, for the second year, we denied admission to some applicants and, when appropriate, informed the applicant that the missing piece is professional experience.  We always feel some regret in denying applicants, but we hope it will help applicants make informed decisions on where else they should apply.

That leaves those whose application was deferred to the spring round.  These applicants will have their credentials reviewed again in the context of the larger application pool.  Applicants who were deferred are invited to update us on changes to their status.  New grades or test scores definitely should be submitted.  An additional recommendation or a new résumé that sheds light on your recent activities can also be valuable.  The bottom line is that you’re welcome to update us, but please be sure that whatever you send is really an update.  If the same information is already in your file, there’s little to be gained from sending it a second time.

The deadline for PhD and Map Your Future applications is tomorrow, so the Admissions Office is making a quick shift of focus.  If you have further general questions about the deferrals, please include them as comments below.  If general themes emerge, I’ll address them in an additional blog post.

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I did not do a good job of lining up tales from the road this year.  I usually ask my Admissions peeps to write a little about what they’ve been up to, but the opportunity slipped by me.  Until, that is, Kristen’s final trip, which started well after everyone else’s had ended.  Lucky for me, she agreed to write this blog post:

Last week I returned from what was officially the last recruiting trip of our admissions “travel season.”  Talk to any admissions professional, and you’ll quickly find out that we have a love/hate relationship with the fall.  Most of us love being out on the road and meeting new applicants, but the pace can be frenetic and hard to manage with everyday work.  My own travel schedule was very manageable this year, but the last trip — to India — represented a significant undertaking.

I was really excited to travel to India.  I had been once before, in 2000 for the wedding of a friend.  Each time I mentioned this to anyone familiar with India, the refrain was always the same: “Wait until you see how it has changed!” I didn’t quite know what to expect, and I can’t say that I saw many changes, but I certainly experienced them.  Most notably, improvements to traveler infrastructure were apparent, and the whole trip was incredibly smooth and quite easy.  This growth in infrastructure represents why we choose to go to a country like India:  as the market develops, so does the number of qualified professionals seeking graduate degrees.  In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of applications and enrolling students from India, so we felt it was time for a visit.  (A small footnote to say that that’s not the only basis for our travel — we also go to places from which we would like to see more applicants.)

A highlight of any Fletcher trip is the ability to interact with our alumni.  I was able to meet with some really inspiring Fletcherites, including one recent grad who is working at an innovative organization that uses rigorous and scientific impact evaluations to combat poverty; a current PhD student who is studying with a Boren Fellowship, and another who does very interesting work at the nexus of business and economic development.

Of course, these trips have their personal highlights as well.  For me, that’s always about the food.  I have to eat, right?  I had some really spectacular meals, and I was both heartened and disappointed to find out that one of my favorites was at a small chain that has an outpost in New York!  Disappointed to know that I chose so unadventurously, but heartened to know that when the Fall 2012 recruiting season rolls around, I’ll be able to hit an old favorite in New York.  It’s the glorious cycle of admissions.…

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Recently, Academic Dean Peter Uvin sent an urgent message to the student community.  The content will be of concern to anyone who shares his intellectual interests.

Dear Students,

The Arab Spring. The Belgian Greek debt crisis. IMF director Lagarde asking Latin American countries for money to help Europe get out of the debt crisis. The coffee at Mugar Café. All worthwhile issues of debate. And yet, they passed by me unnoticed. My mind was on a far more important task:  the production of my annual Top-10 Music List for the year 2011. This is just one of the things an Academic Dean must do, and do well. I hereby share the results of this major research project, which took me hundreds of hours of listening and reflecting. Obviously, I cannot imagine that anyone could improve on this fine work, but in the spirit of free inquiry and frank debate, I do welcome all feedback.

Best wishes,
Peter Uvin
Academic Dean and Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies
Director, Institute for Human Security
The Fletcher School |  Tufts University

And so, dear blog readers, I share with you the results of Dean Uvin’s research.  Next week, I will collect the student feedback.  Meanwhile, please feel free to offer your own choices in the comment section below.

Dean Uvin’s Ten Best Albums of 2011

Kiran Ahluwalia — Aam Zameen: Common Ground. Indian neo-traditional  music, phenomenally produced, with a stunning voice. The first song, a remake of a famous song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is done with Mali’s Tinariwen—it gives new meaning to the term “world music.” A great album.

AA Bondy — Believers. Very sad, haunting, dark, slow album, gorgeously sung and played. Stunning.

Anna Calvi — Anna Calvi. She sounds like a copy of Siouxsee and the Banshees, but what a voice, what guitar playing, what power. I can’t wait for more from her.

Bon Iver — Bon Iver. I was, frankly, not so blown away by his To Emma CD as everyone else seemingly was,  but this one is amazing. I know I will still listen to it 20 years from now. A true classic.

Michael Gordon — Timber. Rather different, and probably not to listen to while having a conversation in your car. But this is brilliant work of so-called contemporary classical music, mesmerizing if you are in the right mood, boundary shifting and refreshing.

Grouplove — Never Trust a Happy Song. Clearly a misnomer, for these are some of the happiest songs around. Not since Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes have I heard an album so unashamedly feel-good. I know I will probably get sick of it at some point (especially if advertisers keep on picking it up), but this is just a great smile-on-your-face-provoking record.

Amy LaVere — Stranger Me. I admit it: I am a country fan. I listen to a lot of it, although not so much to what plays on the radio. This is definitely a country-rock album, but she does come from a real country background. (Her previous excellent album showcases that.) Fun texts, good melodies, and a beautifully fragile-yet-strong voice.

Radiohead — King of Limbs. I am almost ashamed to put it here, because it is so obvious. But it needs to be said: Radiohead made, once again, a phenomenal album. Nobody comes close to these guys—they are the defining band of their generation.

TV on the Radio — Nine Types of Light. This is, once again, a very good album of a very good band, maybe the best band in this country at this time. They continue to innovate with power, rhythm, and voice. I love this.

Robag Wruhme — Thora Vukk. I listened to a lot of electronic music this year. The competition was between three Germans (what’s new?) — Robag Wruhme, Apparat, and Pantha du Prince.  Robag won. I think this record is a little masterpiece, and a true record, with a flow from beginning to end. At the end of the year, Oneohtrix River Never came to muddy the water, almost making it to first position in the electronic category, but I decided to stay with my German roots.

Runner Ups
Enrico Rava — Tribe. Always a gorgeous jazz musician–albeit, in my opinion, of the more background music type–this CD, like so many others of this Italian jazz master, is truly a beauty. Everyone who hears this cannot but fall under its spell.

Son Lux — We are Rising.  His At War with Walls and Mazes is one of the five best albums of the entire 2000s, and this one is good too, albeit less so. The problem is: I had too high expectations. It just fell out of the prizes for the year.

Wye Oak — Civilian. Gorgeous, as are all their albums.  A bit more rhythm, maybe, but still so ethereal, so beautiful, so sensual.


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