Posts by: Jessica Daniels

I always consider myself fortunate when alumni make me aware of their activities.  Today, I’m happy to point you toward a blog post by Kiely Barnard-Webster, a 2015 MALD graduate, who has written on the question of “Are Women Less Corrupt?”  As Kiely notes in her bio, she is “Program Manager at CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, working on innovative approaches to tackling corruption in the DRC and peacebuilding and conflict sensitivity in Myanmar.  Kiely focused her studies on gender and development at The Fletcher School.”

Kiely graduated before we launched our year-old Gender Analysis Field of Study, but the subject has been pursued here for many years.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing more and more alumni heading in that career direction as time goes on, and I’ll look forward to sharing more of their work.

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In case this passed you by, last Saturday Tufts was the host for a meeting of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Quintet of Foreign Ministers (from the European Union, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy).  The student-run campus newspaper, the Tufts Daily, covered the event, as did the Fletcher communications team.  And the University’s communications group provided photos.


Plus, there was all the usual tweeting, including from Secretary Kerry (who, I’ll note, was the senator from Massachusetts for many years and still has a home in Boston).

Kerry with students

Some of the people in the photos are Fletcher students who had the opportunity to meet with the six diplomats at the on-campus home of Tufts president Anthony Monaco.  Rafael (second from the left in the back row), a second-year MALD student from Germany, told me that a mix of U.S. and international students with relevant language skills or geographic origins were the ones chosen.

My favorite tweet on the subject came from a student who needed to split her attention between Saturday’s dignitaries and her own foreign language proficiency exam, which was offered for the first time of the year.


I think Kerney’s comment perfectly sums up the time-management challenges that students face every week at Fletcher!  So many exciting events!  But also…school.


I wrote last week about skills workshops that the Ginn Library will offer this fall, and there’s no denying that technology (teaching it, managing it) is a major component of the library staff’s work.  But books remain the defining characteristic of a library, and Ginn Library assistant, Lori Zimmerman, recently shared information about a special new collection.

Late in August, a delivery arrived from Dean Stavridis’s office: a cart filled with books by Fletcher faculty and alumni, most with handwritten dedications from their authors to Dean Stavridis or his predecessor, Dean Stephen Bosworth.  The books have been placed on display outside the reference and technology offices in the library’s main reading room, and the three packed shelves provide a visual representation of the impressive scholarly work by Fletcher faculty members and graduates.

The diverse book cover designs hint at the breadth of the Fletcher community’s areas of interest.  Laurent Jacque’s Global Derivative Debacles: From Theory to Malpractice, its cover showing a digital illustration of a tightrope walker suspended between mountains of numerical data, sits above Leila Tarazi Fawaz’s A Land of Aching Hearts: The Middle East in the Great War, its cover showing an early-twentieth-century photograph.

Thank you to Dean Stavridis for providing this sample of his personal book collection.  We invite anyone to come in and browse through the books; if one piques your interest, it’s likely the library has a copy available to be checked out and read at your leisure.


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In just a few minutes, I’ll be on an airplane to Washington, DC for tonight’s Idealist Grad School Fair.  I’m expecting a busy evening.  Fortunately, I’ve booked in two great alumni, Kiyomi and Margot, and I’m confident we can keep the information flowing without anyone needing to wait in line for too long.  Plus, I get to catch up with two great Friends of Admissions from their student days.

I’ll be trying to pick out the question of the evening, as I did in Boston last week.  If there’s a good theme, I’ll report back on Thursday.  Until then, if you’re planning to be at the Washington Convention Center tonight, come on over and say hello.


FletcherChatYou might have heard that there’s a U.S. presidential election coming up in November.  And also that the first of the debates will take place tonight, Monday.  To help you with your day-after processing of the evening’s discussions, join Fletcher’s Professor Daniel Drezner for post-debate analysis.  You can find him on Twitter tomorrow, Tuesday, at 10:00 a.m. EDT (UTC -4).  Use #FletcherChat to send your questions.

Should you be interested in some background reading, you can check out Professor Drezner’s views on many topics, including but not limited to politics and international affairs, on his Washington Post blog.


Lucas and I staffed the Fletcher table at yesterday evening’s Idealist grad school fair, so I thought I would write about one of the themes that emerged from the questions I heard.  Naturally, there were all the usual GRE-related queries, as well as conversations about application deadlines and other nitty-gritty topics.  But the one that I’ll comment on today has to do with the link between pre-Fletcher professional experience and post-Fletcher goals.

There are two ways to talk about this.  One is a theme that I’ve covered in the past — that Fletcher is a great place, but if the distance between your current work and your ultimate objectives is more of a canyon than a gap, then additional steps beyond a graduate degree may be required.  I’m sure I’ll discuss this again this fall, so I’m going to move on for now.

What I wanted to say today is that too many folks can’t see the value of their own professional experience.  Maybe they don’t like their current job.  Or maybe they like what they’re doing, but it isn’t what they had hoped to do, and they’re looking to Fletcher to put them back on their path.  In either case, if you — dear reader — are one of those people, I’d encourage you to think about discrete skills and knowledge that you’ll be taking away from your work.  Don’t worry that you didn’t land the ultimate international affairs position when you completed your undergraduate studies.  How many people do that?  (I’ll tell you — not too many.)  Instead, find the threads that you’ll be weaving together with your Fletcher education before you search for your post-Fletcher work.

The irony is that the questions I’ve received along these lines lately — both at the fair and in a recent on-campus conversation — have come from people with interesting and meaty experience.  They’ve really thrown themselves into something special, but because they’re looking for a shift, they’re having trouble seeing the benefit of what they’ve done.

Naturally, there’s still the challenge of identifying the types of organizations that will value your prior work, but that’s something that the Office of Career Services can help you with once you enroll.  For now, your task is to take a new approach to thinking about your experience so that you can make a compelling case for yourself in your graduate school applications.


Most Fletcher students have multiple academic objectives in mind when they enroll.  At the same time as they’re looking to expand their general understanding of the international affairs world, they also want to build specific skills that will help them in their career.  Beyond the usual in-class opportunities (public speaking, accounting, etc.), there are often out-of-class opportunities to focus on a key area that will support future work.  This morning, Ginn Library sent information about workshops offered cooperatively by Ginn along with the University’s Tisch Library and Data Lab.  Each workshop meets once for about 90 minutes.  Here’s what’s on offer this fall.

Collecting geospatial data using GPS handheld units: GPS is changing the way users collect and manage geographic data.  You will learn how to record locations and other survey variables in the field using GPS handheld units.  This field data can then be used for spatial analysis and visualization in ArcGIS and other open source applications, such as google earth and QGIS.

Collecting geospatial data using Survey 123 (phone app):  You will learn how to record locations and other survey variables in the field using Survey 123 (phone app).  This field data can then be used for spatial analysis and visualization in ArcGIS and other open source applications, such as google earth and QGIS.

An Introduction to Quantum GIS (QGIS): QGIS is a free, open-source software that allows you to create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial information on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.  More and more NGOs and international organizations are utilizing QGIS for their mapping and data visualization needs.  This workshop is ideal for students who have introductory knowledge of ArcGIS.  During this workshop, you will learn the basics of QGIS, including topics such as projections, selections,  layer styling, and map composition.

Mapping Open Data with R: Know the basics of R already?  Add a few lines of code to create beautiful, visually engaging maps for your next project.  This workshop will walk you through the basics of loading and manipulating open statistical and geospatial data in RStudio to create high-quality maps.  You will create choropleth maps of USA and Massachusetts using American Community Survey (ACS) data, world development indicators from the World Bank, and maps of point density and elevation.  Familiarity with data frames, installation of R packages, and geospatial data (shapefiles, rasters, projections) highly recommended.

These sessions are completely optional, but open to anyone who sees a future use for these skills.

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Monday and Tuesday slipped by me this week.  I’ve been working on several different things, but I’ve spent much of my time creating a schedule for the students who have volunteered to conduct interviews for us.  Scheduling went unusually smoothly this year, which isn’t to say that there aren’t abundant eraser shavings on and under my desk.  I needed to do significant fiddling to ensure a match between the interview timeslots and volunteers’ schedules.

We’ll kick off the fall interview program on Monday, September 26, and we have more than 25 interviewees already signed up to chat on campus or via Skype next week with our current students.  If you are applying for 2017 enrollment, and if you would like to schedule an evaluative interview, I would encourage you to grab a slot now.  You don’t need to interview in September if you don’t want to, but you also don’t want to wait until November to sign up.  There’s a good chance that everything will be booked up by then.

Remember that interviews are optional, but they are evaluative.  You’ll be talking about the basics — your background, your objectives for study at Fletcher and beyond, and what you’ll bring to the community.  I hope you’ll be among the applicants who will meet a student, whether face-to-face or via Skype.


Every so often I like to check in with Admissions Blog readers and have you direct (or redirect) me toward valuable content for the blog.  It’s like crowdsourcing my brainstorming.  You want to read useful information, and I want to write or recruit content that you’ll find valuable.  It’s a win-win!

To that end, please add your ideas to this ultraquick three-question survey.  If every reader provided one suggestion, I’d have topics to last me well into the winter!  And I promise to do my best with any topics you provide.  So please, help me out, cure my writer’s block, and offer up some ideas on the survey.  Every time I would otherwise be staring at a blank screen, I will thank you.


It’s the second week of classes (the first full week, since last week included a holiday and shopping day), and the calendar of out-of-class events already looks like this:

September 12 calendar

How does that happen?  The community goes from zero to 60 in no time flat.  Our inboxes are suddenly flooded with notices of special events, campus jobs, and administrative announcements.  But now’s also the time when students have a few extra moments to attend a special event, and those events play an important role in building the community.  It’s a challenge to stay on top of everything that’s happening, but it’s a worthy one.

(A simplified calendar of events that may be open to the public can be found on the Fletcher website.)


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