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.