Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Liam, 2014-2Student blogger, Liam, is a current member of the military.  For his first blog of his second year in the MALD program, he describes Fletcher life for veterans and active duty officers — the perfect topic for today’s Veterans Day holiday.

Veterans at Fletcher, while always a portion of the student body (Dean Stavridis, after all, is both a Fletcher MALD/PhD and a retired Navy admiral), are a small community within the school that has nonetheless grown steadily in recent years.  While the incoming class of 2013 was relatively light on active duty officers, it included many veterans, some remaining in the reserves and others completely transitioned from military service.  The incoming class of 2014 had an even larger veteran (and active duty) contingent, and the presence of veterans — both U.S. and international — at Fletcher helps add to the diversity of an already incredible student body.

From real-world experience and operational background in both training and combat, to advanced leadership and organizational skills, to past experience traveling the world and working with many cultures, the contributions that veterans make at Fletcher are invaluable, especially when combined with all the other incredible members of the Fletcher student body.

When I first arrived at Fletcher, I personally felt that nothing I had done in the military was all that special; all of my peers in the Army had effectively the same experiences and I did not feel I was unique.  Coming to Fletcher, I was amazed by how interested other students were in my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I was even more amazed to hear other students’ stories of their pre-Fletcher lives in various places and jobs around the world.  I have been blown away by the breadth of conversations and class discussions that will naturally flow when you combine veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, Peace Corps Volunteers who worked in South Sudan, lawyers who worked for the UN, and medical doctors who worked in IDP camps.

Fletcher has a student veterans group, Fletcher Veterans.  The group meets regularly for both social events and also community service projects.  In recent years the group has gotten together for activities ranging from an annual trip to a polo match outside of Boston, to volunteering at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, to hosting student panels on the state of veterans in America.  This year, in conjunction with other groups at school, the group is looking to expand its presence at Fletcher into the realm of leadership development.  And Fletcher Vets also gets together from time to time for simple social gatherings to tell old war and sea stories over a few drinks.

For veterans or active duty members considering Fletcher, I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to focus on security studies; I would say the majority of veterans at Fletcher focus on other areas, including a very high concentration of MIB candidates.  The openness and diversity of Fletcher’s curriculum make it easy to combine your experience with an amazing breath of academic subjects on a variety of topics.  For those who are interested in security studies, the International Security Studies Program, chaired by Professor Shultz, is a great program and consistently brings in world-class speakers from around the world, as I described in a post last year.  The ISSP fellows — senior military officers attending Fletcher on a one-year fellowship, in lieu of the Army War College or their services’ respective professional military education — add a great deal to both the classroom and student body.  As senior field grade officers who have led operational units, they bring a wealth of knowledge to Fletcher and also serve as exceptional mentors for active duty officers and veterans alike.

Veterans contribute a great deal to the Fletcher community.  If you are a veteran interested in Fletcher and have questions regarding VA benefits, academics, student life, or pretty much anything, please contact me (Liam Walsh) or the co-leaders of Fletcher Veterans, Pat Devane and Joel Tolbirt.

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It’s November 10, five days before our Early Notification deadline.  Only 26 people have submitted applications for September 2015 enrollment so far, but past experience tells us that nearly all of the remaining EN applications will flow in on November 14 and 15.

To help the 26 early birds, and as advance knowledge for everyone else, our application guru Christine has created a handy chart for tracking your application.  Note, especially, the instructions on how to access your Application Status page.  Here’s the chart, minus the hyperlinks (use this PDF for the links):

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App tracker, p2

 

This week has really been packed with special events, and today and tomorrow there are two of the week’s highlights.

Today:  Many students with an interest in private sector or finance careers are currently in New York on a career trip sponsored by the International Business Club.  Sites to be visited include the Federal Reserve of New York, Global Impact Investing Network, Control Risks, Eurasia Group, Falconhead Capital, Google, Oliver Wyman, Citi, Blackstone Group, Major League Soccer, Morgan Stanley,  Monitor Deloitte, Scholastic, and others!  Some, but not all, of the meetings will be hosted by Fletcher grads.

Later today and tomorrow:  In another curricular area, Fletcher will be running Simulex, the annual international security exercise that this year will simulate a crisis in the Baltic region.  The ISSP organizers tell us:

In the past, there have been as many as 200 students and visitors in attendance.  Several of the Military War Colleges, The National Defense University, Military Service Academies and universities from around the country are represented.  Students are assigned to country teams that make policy decisions for their respective states and experience how these decisions influence future events.

These are those just a few of those opportunities Diane mentioned in her post earlier this week.

 

Today I want to highlight a series of events that concluded last night, when members of the community were invited to participate in the final of three sessions focused on the Ebola virus and the current outbreak.  The sessions have reflected the depth and breadth of knowledge on the subject that could be drawn together at Tufts University and the Boston community.  In an email, Tufts Provost David Harris noted:

The Ebola crisis epitomizes the inextricable linkages between human, animal, and environmental health, an approach referred to as “One Health,” and will require a multinational and multidisciplinary response.  At Tufts, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to a One Health response and research agenda, given the constellation of schools and departments that span the humanities, social sciences, human and veterinary medicine, and environmental sciences.

The agenda for last night was:

Ebola: Mutations, Markets, and the Military
Wednesday, November 5, 6:30pm |ASEAN
Panelists
:
Dr. Gian Luca Burci, Legal counsel to World Health Organization
Dr. Rachel Glennester, Executive Director of J-Pal, IGC Economist-Sierra Leone
Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Director, Infection Control at NEIDL, Boston University
Benjamin Spatz,  Arms Expert, UN Panel of Experts Liberia, and current Fletcher PhD student
Moderated by Fletcher Academic Dean Ian Johnstone

The prior forums included:

Ebola Outbreak: Causes and Consequences at a Global Scale
Keynote speaker: Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Partners in Health, Chief Medical Officer
Panelists:
Dr. Margaret McMillan, Economics Department, Tufts University
Dr. Elena Naumova, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University
Dr. Rosalind Shaw, Department of Anthropology, Tufts University
Dr. Christopher Whittier, Center for Conservation Medicine, Tufts University

Ethical Considerations of the Ebola Outbreak
Panelists
:
Dr. Richard Glickman-Simon, Physician-ethicist
Dr. Horacio Hojman, Physician-ethicist
Dr. Sheldon Krimsky, Medical ethicist
Dr. Laura Epstein, CDC official
Marcia Boumil, Public health attorney

It’s energizing to be part of a community that can draw together such diverse expertise to shed light on a topic of global importance.

 

Sunday’s weather was rainy/snowy/windy in our local area, but snowy/windy in Maine.  On Monday, I jumped in my car to drive to Colby College for a presentation alongside Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.  The eight inches of snow that fell on Sunday had mostly packed down or melted on the roadways and paths, but there was still plenty on the grassy areas.

From Colby, we drove on to Bates College for an evening presentation.  Yesterday found us at Bowdoin College, where a lone snowman punctuated the otherwise autumnal scene.

I’m not usually the Fletcher rep who joins our peers out on the road, so this was a good opportunity for me to get to know John Templeton from Princeton, and to hear more about the program at WWS.  And the career office staffs at the three colleges facilitated our conversations with engaged and interested future international affairs professionals.  Today I’m back in town for a beautiful warm day, and I look forward to following up with students I met on my quick road trip.

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Diane and I first met when she visited Fletcher about two years ago, and I conducted her evaluative interview.  Since her arrival at Fletcher in September 2013, representing the country of Australia, she and I have worked on several different projects together.  Her first post for her second year describes the perspective she brings after having completed a year at Fletcher.  

Broinshtein Diane 2Throughout my summer abroad, during which I interned in Northern Ghana, traveled to South Africa, visited home (Australia) twice, and finally made it back to Boston, I had time to reflect on the whirlwind that was my first year at Fletcher.  The academic year is extremely busy; long days are filled with classes, group assignments, individual study, talks by special guests, club meetings, and jobs.  I decided that this year there were some lessons I could take from last year and implement into my schedule.

Knowing what to say “yes” and “no” to is the first big lesson.  A student’s time at Fletcher is filled with amazing opportunities; however, the volume of these opportunities can be overwhelming.  I have learned it’s important to have one or two areas on which to focus my attention outside of classes.  For me, I enjoy being part of admissions activities, because they so heavily influenced my decision to attend Fletcher, and I have been active with the Admissions Office throughout the year.  The other area I am focused on is my Research Assistant position with the Feinstein Center.  This role provides an opportunity to build skills in an area in which I want to work upon graduation.  Fletcher also has so many wonderful social events, that I enjoy attending, such as the amazing Los Fletcheros (Fletcher’s resident cover band), and the cultural nights.  And I chose to take 4.5 classes this semester, so my weekly schedule is fairly full just attending classes and keeping up with assignments.

Because the schedule at Fletcher is so busy, this year I have committed to taking at least one day off a week and getting outside.  Whether it is kayaking on the Charles River, visiting local towns, hiking, a quick trip to New York, or being a tourist in Boston, it’s important to take time to leave the library and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.  Fletcher, being located at Tufts University, also provides access to some excellent sports facilities; I personally enjoy going to the gym each morning, or playing squash with other students and staff from Fletcher.  Many students run with the Marathon team, or play tennis on the courts outside Fletcher, swim at the pool, or take advantage of the great facilities some other way.

One of the biggest decisions I made this year was to be more proactive in asking for help.  Asking for help at Fletcher is not difficult, whether it be booking a timeslot with the writing tutors, or seeing a professor during office hours.  The professors at Fletcher are extremely welcoming, and are keen to help students grasp the content they teach, happily taking time outside of the assigned office hours to sit with students and go over key concepts or help them understand an assignment.

These are just some of the lessons I learned last year and have implemented into my second year at Fletcher.  I am sure there will be many more lessons learned by the time graduation rolls around in May.

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With apologies for not revving up earlier in the semester, I’m happy to say that the Admissions Blog’s student writers are back in action.  We have three returning bloggers — Liam (MALD), Diane (MALD), and Mark (MIB).  Three first-year students — the “A Team” of Ali (MIB), Aditi (MALD), and Alex (MIB) — will soon be introducing themselves.

I’ve been fortunate that students frequently offer to write a post for the blog (as Aditi and Miranda did last week), and I sometimes give a new home to something they’ve written for a different medium (as I did with Colin’s Fletcher Fútbol report).  For the six bloggers who write over the continuum of the two years they spend at Fletcher, their posts should go beyond a single moment and leave readers with a sense of their evolution and breadth of interests over time.

Tomorrow, we’ll start by bringing back one of our returnees, Diane, who will talk about the perspective she brings to her second year.

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So here’s what I love about Fletcher students.  They are very committed to their studies and careers.  They offer support to undergraduates and they burst into the community and instantly create an organization and resource for students interested in technology.  But they are also really fun people, and a frequent autumn rallying point is the Fletcher Fútbol team.  Men and women with soccer/fútbol experience jump into their cleats and unite to compete with the teams from other area graduate schools.

When the team is successful, somehow the news even works its way to the staff.  Or sometimes it isn’t a mystery how we know.  Earlier this week, Colin, a first-year student, put his inner tabloid sportswriter to work with this Social List report on a match against Harvard Law School.

Chemistry may not be a course offered at Fletcher, but the members of Fletcher Fútbol clearly know a little something about it.  Coming off a disappointing loss in front of a home crowd to the business suits of Babson College last week, it would have been understandable for Fletcher Fútbol to be plagued with fears about their ability win a game, let alone score more than one goal in a contest.  However, buoyed by the enthusiasm that only a graduate school sports rivalry can create, and the camaraderie that can only be developed through shared struggle, they threw off the yoke of their previous shortcomings and played with a level of intensity that will surely leave the soccer gods pleased for weeks to come.

Upon arriving at the field, Fletcher Fútbol found the parking lot packed to capacity (somehow the stands were suspiciously empty though?) and intuitively sensed the magnitude of the game about to be played.  The chance had finally come to avenge the memories of broken noses that had haunted them since the 2013 season.  Only limited revenge would be possible though; certain members of the HLS team were supposedly unable to secure a legal injunction to protect themselves from the diplomatic wrath of Fletcher and thus they were only able to field 10 players for the game.

With the autumn air crisp and the stadium lights bright in the black night, it felt like all of Boston was watching as the game kicked off a little after 7pm.  From the start, Fletcher controlled the play in all areas of the field, moving the ball around at will.  But the team didn’t close on any of the opportunities they were able to create until Kiely unleashed a vicious volley from inside the eighteen that found the back of the net like a fish actively trying to be caught.  Unlike previous games though, this is not where the scoring would stop for Fletcher.  Albert and David would both score before the halftime whistle would blow.

In an attempt to reverse their fortune, HLS hoped to effectively counter Fletcher’s multi-pronged attack with a goaltending switch coming out of halftime.  It was all for naught though.  Minutes into the second half, Liam made a ballerina-esque run into the box and scored a goal, emphatically sending the message that the onslaught was not over yet.  Two additional goals followed.

At the end of the night, the imaginary scoreboard read 6-0 in favor of the diplomats from Fletcher.

And there you have it.  Sports is a natural focus for community building, and soccer/fútbol crosses international boundaries.  More than many Fletcher student activities, Fletcher Fútbol pulls the community together, whether on the field or on the sidelines.

Although Fletcher is its own unit of Tufts University, it can also be seen as the graduate program for the University’s International Relations department.  IR is one of the most commonly chosen majors for Tufts undergraduates and, because the major involves a relatively large number of requirements, the undergrad IR folks are pretty serious people.

Despite the occasional (o.k., annual) griping over undergraduates in Ginn Library, Fletcher students are genuinely supportive of their younger peers.  Here are two examples.

Last night, the Ralph Bunche Society (RBS) at Fletcher invited undergrads to learn about their experiences in the IR field.  RBS seeks to shine a light on the contributions that minorities and people of color have made in the field of international relations, and also to encourage students of color to consider educational and career opportunities in international affairs, which means this event was tied directly tied to the RBS mission.  The RBS Facebook page provides some nice descriptions of the presenters, who sought through their comments to pave the way for the undergraduates to follow in their footsteps.

On an ongoing basis, Fletcher students also guide undergraduates via the “Fletcher Mentors” program.  The program matches IR majors with Fletcher students who share similar academic or career objectives, in order to help the undergraduates develop their interests.  They might have one-on-one meetings, or attend group networking events, and there is an online discussion group.

Of course, having a robust undergraduate IR program also opens opportunities for Fletcher students to work as teaching or research assistants, and to attend relevant events sponsored by other units of the University.

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Recently two new (first-year) MALD students, Aditi Patel and Miranda Bogen, contacted me to ask if they might write about their interest in technology fields and their decision to attend Fletcher.  Today I’m sharing their great introduction to the field at Fletcher.  I should note briefly that while Aditi and Miranda are writing about their experience as MALD students, the opportunity to build in technology content is available to all students, especially those in the MIB and PhD programs.

We came to Fletcher because it is one of the leading schools of international affairs — but we also chose Fletcher because of its forward-thinking attitude toward technology, and its willingness to adapt its curriculum and resources to a changing world.

For us, it was critical to find a school that recognized the importance of technology in international affairs; from policy decision making, to crisis mapping, to the facilitation of international business.  It is almost certain that at some point in our careers, we will need the skills and vocabulary to communicate with both engineers and clients to ensure that technology is deployed correctly, regardless of whether these clients are governments, non-profits, or businesses.

Fletcher has ample opportunities for students interested in technology in international affairs.  Having recently created Tech @ Fletcher, the student club of the Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs, we decided to help students uncover those opportunities by gathering together some of the tech-related resources that we’ve discovered in our own application process and in our first few months on campus.

Fletcher’s flexible curriculum is ideal for “Tech MALDs” — students who are interested in focusing on technology.  Students can choose to complete one or both Fields of Study in a related discipline (International Information & Communications is a good place to start), you can focus on a different primary Field of Study with a technology angle by petitioning for tech-related coursework to count for your Fields (or using them as electives), or you can petition to create your own field of study.

Courses that have a significant technology component include International Communication (which includes a heavy dose of internet infrastructure and governance, digital media, and intellectual property), Social Networks in Organizations (this is hard-core social network analysis, not Facebook 101), GIS for International Applications (mapping technology), Foundations of International Cybersecurity, Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity, Financial Inclusion – A Method for Development, and others that are added from semester to semester depending on visiting faculty.

Fletcher students can also cross-register for courses at Harvard Business School like Launching Technology Ventures, Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education, and Strategy and Technology, or take advantage of the proximity to MIT with courses such as Corporate Entrepreneurship: Strategies for Technology-Based New Business Development or Fundamentals of Digital Business Strategy.

At Fletcher, we’re lucky to have the Hitachi Center for Technology in International Affairs, which acts as a hub for tech-related events and resources.  The center is very responsive to student involvement and will happily support student-proposed events that have something to do with technology.  The Hitachi Center hosts lectures, film screenings and even brought Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen to discuss “The New Digital Age” last spring.  The Hitachi Center also offers summer funding for students and faculty researching topics related to technology, which is a great resource for students looking to write their capstone on a topic in the field.

We were overwhelmed by the support we received from our professors and the administration to think about technology in the field of international affairs.  Professor Carolyn Gideon, who teaches International Communications and manages the Hitachi Center, focuses on information and telecommunications policy; Professor Jenny Aker is the deputy director of the Hitachi Center and studies the impact of information/information technology on development outcomes; and Dean Stavridis even moderated a panel of Fletcher alumni at the South by Southwest conference on “Foreign Policy in the Digital Age.”

All of our fellow students we’ve met have slightly different interests (technology and governance, cybersecurity, ICT4D) and we are excited to be bringing these quickly-evolving issues into the wider Fletcher community.  Over the rest of the year, we plan to use Tech @ Fletcher as a platform to create a curriculum guide for students hoping to create their own field or simply to build a solid foundation in tech as a part of other fields, work with the Office of Career Services to create more resources for students interested in a career involving technology, provide workshops and discussions on the tools we will need to manage technology-related issues in our future jobs, and communicate with our classmates and professors about the importance of technology, no matter what their main fields of study.

We both came to graduate school because we were convinced that we needed to better understand the implications of technology in our areas of study.  With all the support and encouragement we have received from Fletcher, we know we made a great choice in picking a school that meets these needs!

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