We’re down to the last few posts from Roxanne, Mirza, and Scott, our graduating bloggers.  For this post, I asked Mirza to create what I like to call a curriculum résumé (a phrase I made up last year), in which he would describe his path through Fletcher and reflect on how everything weaves together.  Like most Fletcher students, he’s honest about his non-linear path, as we can see by comparing his thoughts just before graduation to those in his first semester or  at the start of his second semester.

Mirza Ramic (MALD, 2014)

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Musician (self-employed)
Business Associate positions at various startups

Fields of Study
International Information and Communication
International Organizations

Capstone Topic
Communications and information policy and regulation, and the question of global governance

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Hoping to help international organizations, non-profits, and private sector firms (or anyone, really) formulate effective and creative digital communications and online branding strategies

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

  • Processes of International Negotiation
  • International Communication
  • Econometrics
  • Internal Conflicts and War

My Fletcher academic path might be a bit more on the “strange” side, but considering the rich diversity of Fletcher student backgrounds and interests, perhaps it’s not so left field.  I came to Fletcher pretty determined to be a “Business MALD,” with business and economics courses lined up in my carefully planned academic spreadsheet.  After a couple of days at Fletcher, I changed my strategy and instead decided to try a little bit of everything: conflict resolution, security studies, statistics/economics, and communications.  I also wanted to get some of the breadth requirements out of the way early, and two courses (Negotiation and Econometrics) did precisely that.  I placed out of the economics exam offered at the beginning of the semester, so I was able to take Econometrics and skip the introductory-level economics course.

Semester Two

  • Analytic Frameworks for International Public Policy Decisions
  • Entrepreneurial Marketing: Building a Winning Business Plan
  • Political Economy After the Crisis (Harvard Law School)
  • Values, Interests, and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy (Harvard Kennedy School)

At the start of the spring semester, I was confused.  I had no idea which direction I wanted to go in, and was considering returning to my original plan of a business-oriented MALD degree.  I knew I definitely wanted to venture outside of Fletcher, so I took two courses at Harvard.  One was excellent, another not so excellent, but both were valuable in different regards.  I also took a business course at Fletcher, and enrolled in Analytic Frameworks since my thesis advisor, Professor Carolyn Gideon, taught it and her International Communication class in the fall semester was by far my favorite course thus far.  Looking back, I should have fulfilled some more requirements during this semester, as I finished my first year without having completed a single Field of Study and without having met all my breadth requirements.  Still, I don’t think this is unusual for Fletcher students as some of us tend to be all over the place.  So if you’re in a similar situation, no need for panic whatsoever. 

Summer Internship
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Boston, MA
The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston Public Policy Summer Fellow

Toward the end of my first semester, I began developing an interest in education, learning, and in particular, higher education reform.  This seemed to be a natural extension of my interest in communication technologies and technological innovation, and especially after observing how learning could be enhanced in university classrooms, I became quite passionate about the ways in which technology could transform education.  As a result, I applied for the Rappaport Fellowship for Public Policy offered through the Harvard Kennedy School, and was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 14 Rappaport fellows.  This allowed me to pick the state agency I would want to be involved with, and the Department of Higher Education was an obvious choice.  There, I spent 10 weeks working with public institutions on various forward-looking initiatives advancing public higher education in Massachusetts, focusing on technology-based projects in particular.  It was a great experience for many reasons, and helped me tailor my professional interests and academic direction.

Semester Three

  • Starting New Ventures
  • International Organizations
  • Social Networks in Organizations (1/2 credit)
  • Independent Study – Thesis (1/2 credit)
  • Transforming Education through Emerging Technologies (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

I came into this semester quite focused.  I took a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to advance my knowledge of the educational technology field, after spending an entire summer learning as much about the topic as I possibly could.  This was a great decision.  I met some great people, forged new relationships, and significantly extended my network.  Moreover, my class project would turn into paid work the following semester, and may extend beyond this semester.  I enrolled in International Organizations because I had to fulfill my last breadth requirement.  I was not too happy about this, as I had been avoiding ILO (International Legal Order) courses since the beginning of my Fletcher career.  I was a bit of a curmudgeon in the first week of class, and did not know what to expect from a visiting professor.  Well, I would discover that I was 100% wrong on all accounts, as this turned out to be a highly intellectually stimulating class with a top-notch professor who I just absolutely loved.  In fact, after swearing to avoid ILO, I decided to enroll in International Criminal Justice in my final semester with the same professor, John Cerone, and even decided to make International Organizations one of my Fields of Study.  I think most Fletcher students would agree that a great professor can make all the difference in the world.  For me, it made me appreciate and pursue a field I previously felt no interest in.  Yes, this can happen in your second year, and it is absolutely thrilling.  At the same time, I continued taking business courses, now focusing more specifically on entrepreneurship, new ventures, and innovation, with the idea that I might eventually go into the world of educational technology startups.

Semester Four

  • Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
  • International Criminal Justice
  • U.S. Public Diplomacy
  • The Shapes of Utopia (Harvard Graduate School of Design)

My last semester has featured a combination of requirements and electives.  Another business course to solidify my understanding of innovation and new ventures; a course on U.S. public diplomacy to expand my familiarity with communication in the public sector; the aforementioned International Criminal Justice course to pursue my newly discovered interest in international law; and, well, yes, a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.  This class was recommended to me by a classmate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I decided to give it a shot.  It’s been an amazing course — highly theoretical and philosophical — and precisely what I wanted from my last semester of graduate school.  This really affirms my belief that almost every field has some relevance to international relations: the Shapes of Utopia course has been as much about economics, politics, and sociology as it has been about architecture.  I would indeed recommend venturing out and taking advantage of all the academic and learning resources and opportunities that Boston has to offer – even if it seems like you’re not exactly following your chosen academic trajectory.

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4 Responses to Mirza’s Curriculum Résumé

  1. I’ll take that as an assignment. Let me see what I can arrange.
    Jessica

  2. Jenn W. says:

    I second what Miranda said, and would love to see more posts like this!

  3. I’m glad you liked Mirza’s post, Miranda! I’ll be sure to let him know. Mapping and remapping is definitely part of the Fletcher experience for many students. While we want students to have a clear direction, we also want them to grow and learn. Sometimes that growing and learning process can prompt them to shift directions. See you at Orientation!
    Jessica

  4. Miranda B. says:

    I love this post. Looking at the curriculum resumes on the admissions website was really helpful to feel good that I could pursue my interests at Fletcher, but I loved the added commentary that gives insight into the thought processes. Now that I’m coming, I’m definitely paying more attention to how other students and alumni mapped and re-mapped their courses and discovered new interests along the way.

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