Posts by: Jessica Daniels
Wrapping up the reading suggestions for summer 2017 is a list from the faculty. My request to the professors was only that their book picks be interesting or have relevance to the courses they teach, but if they described a selection, I’ve included the explanation. Where there’s no explanation of the book choice, you can find the theme by looking at the professor’s profile.
Beach Music, by Pat Conroy. A relaxing novel before the work begins
Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
The Law of Nations: An Introduction to the International Law of Peace, edited by Sir Claud Humphrey Waldock and James Leslie Brierly
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, by Rebecca Goldstein
The Essential Holmes, edited by Richard A. Posner
“Melian Dialogue,” in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, (translated by Rex Warner)
A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt
West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
Imperium, by Robert Harris
The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, by Thomas Healy
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, by Louis Menand
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
An Imaginary Life, by David Malouf.
While everyone by now should have read Albert Camus’ The Stranger (L’Etranger), it is worth reading again as an introduction to Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, contre-euquete). The latter, a reprise of Camus from the perspective of the Arab victim in The Stranger, received well-deserved critical praise when it was published in 2015. While not as profound as Camus, Daoud’s reply is well worth reading and offers both an anti-colonial counterpoint (not innovative, but well done) and an interesting gloss on existence and identity. It’s probably better to read both in French, if possible, but it’s not necessary to do so.
The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy, by Richard Locke. This book is the most comprehensive study to date evaluating the impact of company codes of conduct on labor standards in global supply chains.
The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done About It, by David Weil. This book argues that widening income inequality has more to do with organizational innovations than technological change.
“Why Diversity Programs Fail,” Harvard Business Review (2016, July 1), by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev. This is an easy to read article with a provocative view of diversity programs.
50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark. If you have not written papers in a long time (or maybe ever) this book contains many helpful insights.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
Professor Pearl Robinson (Professor Robinson is primarily affiliated with the Tufts Department of Political Science but also teaches at Fletcher.)
Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa, by Ousman Oumar Kane. This is one of the best books I’ve read about Africa in the past decade. I consider it a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the political, religious, and intellectual complexities of the Islamic landscape in contemporary Africa.
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
In God’s Name: An Investigation Into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, by David Yallop. This is a tremendous book, regardless of your religious views. There is much more about banking in this book than you might imagine. Given the situation in Italy, this is really must reading.
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West, by Edward Rice. This is an awesome story, it will change you.
So far this week I’ve pointed you toward a student’s suggested summer reading list and a student-run blog. Today I’d like to highlight the Capstone Projects that students have written and then shared with the Tufts Digital Library.
The current Capstone requirement allows for a final product in many different forms, including a thesis. Not so many years ago, a traditional thesis was the only option. As a result, the projects can be found in two places: under Fletcher Capstone and under Fletcher Thesis, with some overlap between the two. There are many summers worth of reading in there, but of course you can pick and choose.
I just rediscovered a note to myself from last November and, even half a year later, I’d like to highlight this interesting alumni news item. A Fletcher 2003 graduate, Adam Hinds, was elected last fall to the Massachusetts Senate. He won handily and, with about ten years of experience with the United Nations on his résumé, brings an unusual background to a state legislature. As with most things, you can follow his work on Facebook.
As a member of the Admissions staff, I freely offer my advice on putting together a strong application, but I leave it to others to provide suggestions to incoming students. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the tips I’ve collected this spring. I’m going to start today with a summer reading list offered by Colin Steele, who just completed his first year in the MALD program. I had put out a call to the Social List for their suggestions and, nearly instantly, received a fully formed suggested library from Colin.
Lest you worry, there truly is no required pre-Fletcher reading, but we always hear from incoming students who simply want to get their brains thinking in a Fletcher-ish way. Colin’s list strikes the perfect balance between more and less scholarly material, and he starts by describing the principles that guided him as he made his selections.
Book Listing philosophy: These are all books that have shaped my worldview, my appreciation of language, and/or how I approach Fletcher. In general, I think about the summer before Fletcher as an on-ramp to the education itself: reading, experience, and reflection over the summer can really help get you up to speed and thus ease the transition into campus life. (That was certainly my experience, anyway.) As trite or generic as it might sound, I’d recommend reading at least one really fulfilling, edifying book. Maybe you always (or never) wanted to read Cicero, but you’re worried about the state of society. Maybe you haven’t read Steinbeck since 10th grade, or you’ve never been to the U.S. Maybe you just haven’t read a book for real in a while. In any of those cases, summer is a great opportunity to do so.
One final word: as Dean Stavridis writes in The Leader’s Bookshelf, it’s not about what you read — it’s how you read. That’s certainly true of grad school, and the summer before is an opportunity to practice reading intentionally. Whatever you choose, make it something that seems like it will frame the Fletcher education and experience you’re looking for, and approach the text that way. That’s a habit of mind that will pay off in spades at school.
A Passion for Leadership, Robert Gates
The latest from the former U.S. secretary of defense and author of Duty. A short, readable, and eminently usable guide to leading and transforming organizations large and small. Also includes a call to consider public service.
Painting as a Pastime, Winston Churchill
A very short, perhaps lesser-known work on achieving balance in life and work. Even at Fletcher, it’s important to have interests and recreational outlets outside of work and study.
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
One of the great American novels; a thinly fictionalized account of the rise and reign of Huey P. Long of Louisiana.
In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson
In 1933 — the same year Fletcher was founded — the U.S. ambassador to Germany has a ringside seat to Hitler’s rise. True history told with Larson’s characteristic page-turning zip.
The Leader’s Bookshelf, James Stavridis
Fifty more book recommendations (with reviews and synopses), plus useful articles on reading, writing, and leading. A good opportunity to get to know the dean virtually before arriving on campus.
The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Tom Clancy
My journey to Fletcher probably started with my first Tom Clancy book, and I went back and read a couple last summer to see how I’d find them en route to grad school. They’re still great yarns, and this is one of the best.
The classic or classics you’ve always wanted to read: Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Waltz, Kissinger, Lawrence Freedman, whomever. Tackling some giant in your field with purpose before arriving will pay big dividends when classes start, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. The actual classics — Aristotle, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Laozi, etc. — are also worth it.
Finally, here’s link to a PDF version of an old article the dean wrote for the U.S. Naval Institute called “Read, Think, Write, and PUBLISH.” I printed myself a copy before I made my way to Fletcher, and it really helped shape my approach.
The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay
Recommended to me by the person who introduced me to Fletcher 10 years ago. A bildungsroman about a boy learning about boxing and life in apartheid-era South Africa. (One of the top three on this list, in my opinion.)
Mink River or The Plover, Brian Doyle
Just when you thought you’d outgrown talking-animal books, Doyle comes along and convinces you that untranslated Irish and the “dark, secret tongue of bears” might actually make sense.
Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West, Cormac McCarthy
This is a gut-punch of a book. McCarthy does things with the American language that you didn’t know were possible.
No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy
The shortest and most accessible of his books (and infinitely better than the movie). Worth (re)reading now.
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
And/or other Steinbeck, e.g. Travels with Charley. One of the great storytellers of the American land and its people; worthwhile for both U.S. and non-U.S. students.
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Norman Maclean
Very short, exceptionally well-turned prose. For my money, some of the best writing around.
The final Five-Year Update for the Class of 2011 comes from Jacqui Deelstra. Jacqui had pursued a variety of professional experiences before she started at Fletcher, but she created a clear path for her post-graduate school career, with ICT4D the link that connects her work.
For me, the choice to go to Fletcher was pretty clear. I wanted to increase my skills and expertise for a career in international development, and my sister had paved the way to Medford by going to Tufts herself as an undergraduate. So when I when analyzed choices for grad school, I could not imagine a better option than to continue the “Jumbo” family tradition.
My path to Fletcher
As I was finishing up my degree in international relations and journalism at the University of Southern California, I found myself looking for opportunities to get practical experience overseas. Through some connections I heard about Tostan, an NGO based in Senegal that focuses on women and girls’ health and human rights. Working with Tostan on communications and donor relations, and visiting communities throughout Senegal, gave me my first exposure to the field of international development.
Over the next few years, before making my way to Fletcher, I spent two years back in Seattle, WA, my hometown, working on local youth-mentoring programs with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and spent a year in Loja, Ecuador teaching English and volunteering through the WorldTeach program.
During and after Fletcher: Finding a niche in ICT4D
As an undergraduate, while I double-majored in international relations and print journalism, my primary focus was on communications and journalism. That passion for understanding how people access and consume information, and how it impacts their lives, has always stuck with me. While at Fletcher I discovered the budding field of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D). I was fascinated in thinking about how mobile devices, social media and other communication technologies were changing people’s ability to participate in government, get information on health topics, and access training and capacity building. I focused my Fletcher thesis on how ICT was being used for government accountability and transparency programs in East Africa through field research in Tanzania and Kenya during the summer between my two years at Fletcher.
Thanks to the experience I gained with ICT4D while at Fletcher, I landed a short-term consultancy with Plan International as an ICT4D consultant. Right after Fletcher graduation, I headed to Benin where I spent two months working with the local staff on evaluating and planning the expanded roll-out of an SMS-based pilot project.
After I returned from Benin, I joined Creative Associates, a DC-based USAID implementing partner. At that time in September 2011, Creative had just established a Technology for Development team focused on designing and implementing ICT solutions for projects in sectors such as education, elections, and governance and civil society. I spent five years with Creative helping to grow the Technology for Development practice, which is now known as the Creative Development Lab. My work at Creative took me to Zambia to work on mobile solutions to support early-grade reading and to Haiti to support civil society organizations with technology for collecting and mapping electoral security data.
In February 2017, I accepted an exciting opportunity to work with the Digital Health Solutions team at PATH. PATH is a leader in innovation in Global Health and my new position is giving me the great chance to continue to grow my career in ICT4D and to put down roots back in Seattle.
Today I balance my work in ICT4D with my family. I have an almost two-year-old son named Elliott. I also still benefit tremendously from the relationships I developed at Fletcher. With my closest Fletcher friends, who are scattered all over the world, we have maintained a Skype book club, where we spend little time discussing the book, but instead have lengthy discussions on topics ranging from career challenges and successes to wedding planning. Looking back and considering my life today, I could not be happier with my choice to follow in my sister’s footsteps and become a Tufts Jumbo by studying at Fletcher.
This week I’m going to share two updates from the Class of 2011, with my apologies to the writers for neglecting to publish their posts earlier in the spring. Kimberly came to Fletcher from Jamaica, which given the country’s relatively small size, immediately made her stand out my mind.
Every so often I have a flashback to Commencement day — huddling together for group photos, and then each of my friends, with cautious optimism, sharing plans for our new lives that would begin in just a matter of days. Was that really five and a half years ago? So much has happened. Our class has accomplished so much.
In high school I’d made up my mind that I wouldn’t be contained by the borders of my small island; I was one of those people that Dean Bosworth spoke about at our orientation, looking to “lead an international life.”
At first, the dream manifested as a desire to join Jamaica’s foreign service, and I was fortunate to receive very clear advice from two of Jamaica’s top diplomatic professionals. They told me that if I was serious about the foreign service, there was only one graduate school for me. And so, before I had even decided where I would pursue my undergraduate studies, I had accepted my mission: The Fletcher School. Though it was probably obvious, I didn’t realize at the time that they were both Fletcher grads.
One bachelor’s degree and an embassy internship later, I was heading to Medford. I had put all my grad school eggs in the Fletcher basket and it had paid off.
By the time I arrived in the Hall of Flags, my interests had shifted. I’d spent a year in the Ministry of Finance, working on Jamaica’s program with the multilateral banks, and I had a new mission: I was going to work at the World Bank.
I never forgot about that mission, but it lay in the back of my mind while I was busy soaking up the whirlwind awesomeness that is the Fletcher School. This update is my love song to Blakeley Hall, Fletcher Follies, Los Fletcheros, the annual Ski Trip, and so much more. To Professor Block, who was a stellar advisor, and to Professor Moomaw and all of CIERP.
It is five and half years later, and a lot has happened. I’ve been to several Fletcher weddings, including my own, and I ended up at the World Bank, though in a different sector than I anticipated. In the Global Water Practice, I work on policy, planning, and capacity building related to water resources infrastructure. Given the scale of the global water and energy challenges, I can scarcely think of a sector I would rather be working in.
While I didn’t expect my job to take me to so many construction sites, the experience has been both exciting and rewarding. There is, at the end of the day, something special about seeing a major project coming up out of the ground and knowing you had even the smallest hand in bringing it to fruition. When I arrive at a client’s office and someone hands me a hard hat, I know it’s going to be a good day.
If I have one misgiving, though, it is that none of my projects to date have taken me anywhere close to Jamaica. I won’t lie; it tugs at my heartstrings to spend most of my days trying to solve problems everywhere else but there. I tell myself that there is time for that.
In the meantime, I am enjoying all the incredible Fletcher friendships I made during those two years and the ones I continue to make. The Fletcher family is real, so real. It can be hard to stay in touch with folks splintered all over the globe, but nearly everywhere I go, there’s at least one familiar face and it makes all the difference.
I haven’t decided yet what my next mission will be…but I think I’m starting to get some ideas.
I wanted to draw readers’ attention to a nice Q&A feature with graduating students that the Fletcher communications team pulled together this spring. The pieces have the common theme of “commencing a new chapter,” and the posts come from:
Ammar, MIB student who was active in Fletcher student governance and gave a wonderful introduction for Professor Schena at Commencement.
Angga, whose contributions to the Fletcher student community are nearly impossible to summarize. Suffice it to say that everyone loves Angga.
Tanay, one of the two dynamic student speakers at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony.
With the academic year behind us and the September 2017 admissions cycle more or less wrapped up, it’s time for the Admissions staff to look ahead and turn our attention to summer projects and routine work. Some of the items on our to-do lists are: Boston Summerfest at Fletcher; Coffee Hours around the world; a new publication to use in the fall; travel planning; continuing student scholarship renewal; application upgrades; and mundane tasks such as booking rooms we’ll need in the next academic year. (Just writing that reminded me it’s not too early to book rooms for Admissions Committee meetings.)
Essentially, we won’t be doing much that interests Admissions Blog readers, except possibly if we decide on additional application tweaks.
Fortunately for all of us, that doesn’t mean that the blog will be daily drudgery. One benefit of my having been overwhelmed with good content in the spring is that I still have lots to share in the coming weeks: Class of 2011 and 2016 updates, general news from the school, tips from students and faculty. All those are coming up soon, though I’m sure I won’t be posting quite as frequently as I did through the spring. And gradually I’ll shift focus from sharing information with the incoming class toward helping prepare future applicants as we look ahead to a new application cycle.
As ever, I’d love to cover topics of interest to readers. To suggest a topic or ask a question, please contact us!
What a beautiful Commencement weekend! Two fabulous sunny days tucked between the Boston area’s first heat wave and a dreary rainy Monday — what more could we ask for? As planned, I arrived yesterday in time to snag folks as they moved from the all-University graduation to the Fletcher ceremony. I didn’t catch everyone (sadly) but, among others, I was happy to see student bloggers Adnan, Tatsuo, and McKenzie. (Adnan and Tatsuo both apologized for delays in sending their final posts. I’m sure we’ll hear from them soon.) McKenzie was honored on Saturday with a prize for academic achievement and community involvement by a graduating student. Any of the finalists for the award would have been worthy — being selected is truly a big honor. Congratulations, McKenzie!
Then, once the processions were complete, we all settled down for speeches and the distribution of diplomas. The Fletcher website offers quick summaries of both Commencement and Class Day, and the Tufts website offers details and photos from the all-University ceremony (also called Phase I). Here’s an example:
I had a great view of the proceedings, but one that was frequently interrupted by photographers, so I’ll let the websites do the talking. But I still want to share two photos that represent a special joy. There are a good number of children who started life while a parent was a Fletcher student. Two examples from among our PhD graduates are Rizwan (adorable daughter) and Avner (adorable twin boys), who are receiving their PhD “hoods”:
The reaction of the “graduating kids” from all degree programs was priceless. Many weren’t sure what was going on, but there was one lovely little girl in her own gown who totally owned the stage!
Once the PhD graduates had all been recognized, the ceremony concluded and everyone moved off to a reception. The end of another academic year! A few graduates have said they’ll stop by this week, which will ease our transition to the very quiet summer. For a few days, though, we’ll enjoy the glow of having launched the newest members of the Fletcher alumni family!
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