Posts by: Jessica Daniels
Even as our focus is fixed on wrapping up the Early Notification process and preparing for the applications that will greet us on or before January 10, there’s another deadline coming up on Sunday, December 20. That’s when we’ll receive two very different sets of applications: for the PhD program, and for Map Your Future.
Many years ago, we moved the PhD program deadline from January to December so that we would have extra time to let the process run. There’s a committee of five professors and several staff members who review the applications, and need time to do so. In addition, dissertation proposals are shared with members of the faculty to ensure there’s a good match between the applicant’s interests and faculty expertise. All of that takes time, and kicking off the process ahead of the January rush has served us well.
When we were considering the application process for the relatively new Map Your Future pathway to admission to the MALD or MIB programs, we decided that the December 20 deadline would work for these applicants, too, though they could hardly be more different from those who apply for the PhD. Map Your Future is for students currently in their last year of undergraduate study (or six months post graduation) who, if admitted, will enroll at Fletcher in two years. So the applicants we’ll consider this month will finally start their Fletcher classes in September 2017 (if they are 2015 graduates) or September 2018 (if they are 2016 graduates). This path works well for applicants who want the security of a graduate school admission offer, but who also want to pursue professional experience before starting their graduate studies.
When we consider MYF applicants, we are really looking for indications of potential. We like to see a strong academic profile and some early professional and international experience. Of course, your typical 21-year-old will not have the experience of our average student admitted directly to the MALD or MIB program, but (in a sense) we make a bet that our admitted MYF students will accrue a lot of great experience in the two years before they enroll.
The MYF application is pretty much the same as for students who apply directly to the MALD or MIB. Any tips that I might give to a MALD/MIB applicant would be appropriate for an MYF applicant, too. It’s only the review process that differs. Now that the second group of MYF admitted applicants has enrolled, we are happy to see how well this option is working.
Returning again to the Faculty Spotlight series, today we’ll read about Professor Sulmaan Khan, who is actually on sabbatical this semester. When he rejoins us at Fletcher in the spring, he will teach The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs and Foreign Relations Of Modern China, 1644 to the Present. He also teaches China’s Frontiers.
FRAGMENTS OF A FLETCHER LIFE
Fall — one of those glorious New England fall days when you long to feel the wind in your face. “We’re going outside today,” I announce to the class. Nods of approval. We settle down on the grass, the leaves red and gold around us, and talk of Chinese foreign relations. Later, trying to write about it, I will forget what it was we discussed that particular day. (It was too late in the semester for Koxinga, that crazy warrior whom Japan, Taiwan, and China all claim for their own; it was too early for Deng Xiaoping, with the pragmatism he brought to China and the carnage he unleashed at Tiananmen Square. We could have been talking about the Taiping rebellion or we could have been talking about the Korean War — as I say, I cannot be sure). But I will remember the red-tail.
A pair of red-tailed hawks has been nesting near Fletcher at least since I started here in 2013. And as we talk, one of them comes soaring in upon the winds — a huge chocolate-brown and white hawk, the red tail like fire in the autumn sky — to land in the tree behind us. I pause, mid-lecture, to point it out to the class. For a large bird, the red-tail can be astonishingly adept at hiding; this one chooses to blend almost entirely into the branches. I wait till everyone has seen it before carrying on. It is important, of course, to know the details of China’s past. But you cannot let magic pass you by, and there is something magical about red-tails.
As geniuses go, Bismarck is an astonishingly divisive figure. (But then, so too is Henry Kissinger, who wrote more insightfully about Bismarck than any other historian). I have been trying to explain Bismarck’s problem to my class on The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs: his diplomacy was too complex, too intricate for most people to understand. There was shock, horror when his successors discovered the treaties he had made, the web of alliances and obligations virtually impenetrable to them. Good as he was, I tell the class, he could not prepare the way for his successor.
“I don’t think he can be called good then. That level of disorganization is unacceptable,” says one of my students. A good leader, she explains, creates a system and grooms people who can work it.
“But is it is his fault?” I ask. “Can you blame him if no one else was quite smart enough to understand how the treaties worked?” This is the central argument about Bismarck, and the class — a confident, stimulating bunch — will be at it for the rest of the session.
“He could have color-coded them,” says another student decidedly. She has, I have to acknowledge, a point there.
Ellen McDonald is our research librarian, and, as I invariably tell students working on their capstones, the smartest person at Fletcher. She knows almost everything and what she doesn’t know, she knows how to find out. She is also incredibly idealistic. She believes deeply in the holy myths of academe, in its commitment to seeking truth, the freedoms it grants you for that quest. She has spent time in jail for protesting defense policies she found abhorrent; she has been a foster mother to numerous children. She is as formidable a combination of intellect and heart as one can encounter, and I always come away from conversations with her feeling inspired.
Today, Ellen is talking about elephants.
“Do you know that in the time we have been talking an elephant has been slain?” she asks.
I do know that. In my heart of hearts, I still want to be a naturalist.
“I’ve created a research guide on illegal wildlife trafficking,” she says, punching it up. It is an impressive piece of work.
“We have to save the elephant,” Ellen tells me. “Are you in?”
How could I not be?
In spring, students’ minds turn to their futures. For the second years, there is the job hunt. For first years, the questions are, if not as pressing, perhaps more tortuous. “What is the best way of using this summer to ensure I get a job next year? Can I balance what I want to do with the responsible thing to do? If I do something this summer and don’t like it, can I do something else next year, or has the chance been missed?”
A student has come to me with a gleam in her eye and a ramble planned: she wants to take the Trans-Siberian railway. It is a glorious trip: she will meet people she would never have dreamt of, see Russia and China the way few people have. For a student of international affairs, it will be a learning experience better than any internship. I am proud that she is brave enough to reach for this.
“Take the train,” I say. “You won’t regret it.” I feel a surge of gratitude for my own teachers, for their wisdom in telling me to trust my instincts and take a trail even if I didn’t know where it would lead. One has an entire lifetime to be grown-up and responsible; giddy adventure just might be good preparation for that lifetime. At the very least, it will be fun.
She takes the train. She writes to me in Russian a few months later. She has had a grand time.
At graduation, one of the speakers talks about the problems the world faces: the poverty, the inequality, the death penalty and how it is still practiced in Boston. She is passionate; she is logical; she is all one hopes a speaker would be. “What did you think of it?” students ask later. “We hear some people thought it might not be appropriate.”
“I loved it,” I say. It is their day and they deserve all the congratulations coming their way — but it is wise to temper those congratulations with a reminder that there is work to be done. “I don’t want you to get too comfortable,” I say. “And I’m glad she didn’t let you.”
I think about this as I walk back down towards the Davis Square T-stop. I will not be back to the comforts of Fletcher next fall: a sabbatical has rolled around, and I will be off in Asia, doing research for a book on Sino-Japanese relations (at least, that’s how it starts out. Books are living things; they become what they want to become, regardless of what you plan for them). One needs a change to stay fresh, and I am glad for the chance to head to Japan, China, and Taiwan, to see new places and hear new things. But I will miss Fletcher. It is like nowhere else I know.
A shadow falls on the grass, and I look up. Overhead, a red-tail is climbing in lazy spirals. It circles once more as I watch, then veers off towards Fletcher and is gone.
Tagged with: Faculty Spotlight
I’m ALWAYS excited for the December Admissions Committee meeting at which we consider Early Notification applications. It’s the first time our full new Committee gathers together for discussion, and the meeting helps us chart the course for all the reading/reviewing we’ll do in the future. I’ll be heading over in just a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee and do some pre-meeting chatting.
But just as we’re starting up the new Admissions Committee, we’ll be closing up another activity. Today is the last official day of the Fall Semester interview program. Aside from a few straggler appointments set up at the request of eager volunteers, we won’t be seeing much of our interviewers from here on. We really appreciate their work throughout the semester, particularly this year for our Skype experiment. We thanked them last week at a lunch where I grabbed a photo of the first students to arrive.
So now I’m off to the meeting, and the start of the heart of the 2015-2016 Admissions Committee process.
Is it too late to write about the Paris Climate Talks? I thought not. In fact, I’m not going to write much of my own, but Fletcher is well represented at the talks and in the study of environment issues, and I collected some links for you.
First, for general info on COP21, you could do worse than to check out the Tufts Sustainability Office’s page. Note that members of the Fletcher community are tweeting about the event — Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher and PhD Candidate Rishikesh Bhandary, and there’s a Twitter feed for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
And some other stories:
Daniel Reifsnyder, a 2014 graduate of the Fletcher PhD program, is co-leading the climate negotiations that culminated in Paris.
Finally, you can read about fall semester events organized by the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
Tagged with: CIERP
For our first Five-Year Update from the Class of 2010, let’s meet Naureen Kabir, whom I remember as an Admissions interviewer during her first year in the MALD program. Because of the recent event mentioned in Naureen’s post, I’d like to note that she originally sent it to me about two weeks ago.
I’ve sat down to write this update several times in the past few weeks, but I keep getting interrupted by world events. To be specific, world events in the form of terrorist attacks. Most recently it was the November 13 attacks in Paris. As an Intelligence Research Manager with the New York Police Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, my days are very much dependent on terrorist activity around the world, which unfortunately seems constant these days.
I always knew that I wanted a career that had an international focus. Having spent my childhood across Europe, South Asia, and the United States significantly influenced this goal, as did having a mother who had an amazing career that let her travel the world and work on development programs that benefited women and children in the poorest of countries. I spent my summers in college working for a non-profit in Bangladesh. My dream was to follow in my mother’s footsteps and travel the world like she did.
Instead, I stayed in the U.S. after graduating from college in 2004. I spent the first year post-college working at small nonprofits, before getting a job at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
I assumed, when I was admitted to Fletcher, that while my time at CFR had broadened by interests to U.S. foreign policy issues — such as regional security and defense issues — I would still find my way back to the international development world at and after Fletcher. But the classes I took during my very first semester — Role of Force with Richard Shultz, Islam and Politics with Vali Nasr, Policy Analysis with Bill Martel, and Islam and the West with Ayesha Jalal — not only challenged and excited me, they firmly planted me in the International Security Studies camp and set the course for the next seven years of my life.
I will forever be so grateful to Fletcher for the incredible education I received during my time there. The professors I mentioned above were truly phenomenal. Professor Nasr (a Fletcher graduate who is currently the dean at Johns Hopkins SAIS), welcomed questions and debate at all times; Professor Jalal pushed me harder than anyone else to solidify my arguments and analysis; Professor Martel, whom I had the privilege to work with during my time at Fletcher, approached each day with an enthusiasm and positivity that spread to his students. And Professor Shultz, in my opinion, is simply the best.
Besides academics, I met many incredible people at Fletcher, some of whom have become dear friends. And while it often drove me crazy, my time serving as Editor-in-Chief of the The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs was a great experience and taught me skills that I have applied often in my post-Fletcher life.
Following Fletcher, I began work as an Intelligence Research Specialist with the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau, as part of an analytical unit known as the Terrorism Threat Analysis Group. Five years later, I currently lead the unit, and have a team of analysts who assess global terrorist networks to determine potential threats to New York City. I spend my days monitoring global developments and attacks, reviewing intelligence assessments, and briefing the NYPD’s senior leadership on threats and vulnerabilities. I also work with the various other units within the Counterterrorism Bureau on ways to bolster security in New York City and train officers in countering specific tactics and terrorist tradecraft. While it is often hectic, and while it often means working weekends and holidays, I truly love my job and the sense of purpose that it gives me every day.
So much of what I learned at Fletcher has been directly applicable to my work at the NYPD, and I remain so grateful for the Fletcher education, as well as the faculty members and friends who have offered invaluable guidance and advice over the past several years. On a personal note, five-years post-Fletcher, my husband and I continue to live in New York City, though we are now exploring the city as parents: Last year, we were blessed with a daughter who is now a very active toddler.
All through this semester I’ve been reaching out to graduates from the Class of 2010 and asking them to write a Five-Year Update for the blog. I’ve now gathered a few posts, with promises of many more to arrive in January.
The Class of 2010 is just a little different from the Classes of 2009, 2008, or 2007 in that it was the first graduating class that included students who completed the MIB program. We’ll be hearing from some of those MIBers down the road. But tomorrow, we’ll read an update from a MALD graduate who found herself going in an unexpected direction with her career.
Some readers put in a special request for the Five-Year Updates in my November survey, and I’m happy to be bringing them back to the blog.
A few weeks back, after I published Professor Krohn’s introduction on the blog, I became curious about students who started at Fletcher with no intention of focusing on economics, but who ended up doing so anyway. As you all probably know, some of our APSIA peers require more economics study than Fletcher, but we prefer to take the approach that our students want to shape their own curriculum. We make the courses available, and then it’s pretty much up to them to decide how many to take, so long as they complete the basic economics course that can be fulfilled through an equivalency exam.
A quick note to the Social List later and I had heard from several students who are new econo-philes, and I want to share their stories. I think it says something special about Fletcher that there are so many students who feel comfortable taking a risk in their course selections. My observation is always that students here work very hard, but the academic atmosphere is collegial and non-competitive, perfect for diving into material that once seemed out of reach.
Arpita (second-year MALD):
I had had very little exposure to the field of economics during my undergraduate study at law school. Working on legal issues related to financial markets (as part of my work as a corporate lawyer) had made me want to understand the nuances behind them, and graduate school was the perfect opportunity to do so. While my elementary knowledge of economics and some last minute study enabled me to pass the equivalency exam for the class on introductory economics, speaking with my new classmates — many of whom had helped governments in formulating economic policies — made me very nervous. I felt very unsure of my ability to keep up with course work in advanced economics at Fletcher. While I contemplated and re-contemplated my intended Fields of Study, a chance conversation in the Hall of Flags with Dean Sheehan ultimately informed my decision to take up the challenge. He convinced me to move out of my comfort zone and pick the courses that I really wanted. After more contemplation I decided to take a leap and pursue Development Economics and International Monetary Theory and Policy as my two Fields. And I am glad I did. The transition from a world of contracts and legislation to one of graphs and data-sets has been both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. The supportive and collaborative academic environment at Fletcher has made it much easier to absorb the overwhelming amount of new information, handle the heavy coursework, and make peace with that occasional poor grade on an assignment. But my ultimate comfort was knowing that I was not alone; there were many others like me who were treading new academic territory at Fletcher. Now almost halfway through my second year, I am thankful that I ran into Dean Sheehan in the Hall of Flags that day.
Jesse (second-year MIB):
My appreciation for economics has quite a bit to do with Professor Michael Klein, Fletcher’s own macroeconomics guru. I am now in my fourth economics class with Professor Klein, and I have enjoyed each one. There is a certain comfort in the social science insights that can be gained with economic methods. There will always be a correct answer to an equation, and you can train yourself to master any theorem. The sense of satisfaction that arrives from mastering an economic concept, and then applying such a concept to inform your perspective on a real world problem, is palpable. It has been a pleasure to add economics to my analytical toolkit that I can draw upon in my academic and professional career.
Kerrlene (first-year MALD):
I didn’t hate economics but I didn’t like it, because there is a quantitative element to it and I thought I was bad at math. I had to take Quantitative Methods to fulfill a course requirement. When I received my first quiz grade I thought for sure I would fail the course. However, I greatly improved by the final and passed the course with flying colors! This only happened thanks to the Fletcher community. In addition to attending office hours (with a gracious and patient professor), I was helped by a student here who was an astrophysicist. (I don’t think I would have met an astrophysicist studying international relations at any other school.) He explained the calculus to me and I finally got it! I found my love for economic math in the common room at Blakeley Hall and now I cannot stop thinking about one day developing my own economic model. What it will explain, I am not too sure yet, but I look forward to figuring that out in Econometrics next term!
Nathan (second-year MALD):
I had previously been less than enthusiastic about having to take economics classes during my undergraduate course of study. I found the material to be unengaging, antiquated, and not applicable to the real world. Fletcher played a big role in changing much of that perception. The professors all have a wealth of practical and academic work experience, which has been a boon in the classroom and a benefit to the students taking their classes. Thanks to the engaging nature of the Fletcher economics courses, I have discovered a newfound interest in the subject. I even elected to concentrate in International Trade and Commercial Policies and will be a TA for a GMAP trade economics course in the Spring!
You may already have corresponded with Lucas, or maybe you will in January. He’s our new(ish) Admissions Counselor, a position that starts, but hardly ends, with managing our online application platform. Today, he introduces himself. If you do end up speaking or corresponding with him, be sure to ask about his golf game.
“Who is this guy?” you might be thinking to yourself. Well, it has been almost three months since I first joined the Fletcher admissions team, and I figured that it’s about time I said “Hello” to all our dedicated blog readers and introduced myself. I’m Lucas Harty – born and bred in Buffalo, NY and, while I will always call Western New York home, Boston truly has a special place in my heart. I did my bachelor’s degree in economics at Boston College where I was lucky enough to spend time studying in Paris, Berlin, and Mexico City. My time spent abroad and my courses in economics helped to stoke a real curiosity in the systems that different countries use to educate their citizens, the role that education plays in providing social mobility, and the challenges to increasing access to education across the globe. I followed this interest to the University of Pennsylvania where I recently graduated with my master’s in education, and I’m excited to be part of the Office of Admissions at an institution with such a global and distinct community.
So what else do you need to know about me? Some of my favorite pastimes include hiking and kayaking, or skiing in the winter. I’m an aspiring golfer (though my short game is atrocious) and I’ll take any opportunity I can to stop in a bookstore and add another book to my endlessly growing “To Read” list. Here at Fletcher you can find me in my corner of the Office of Admissions – I’ve only been here a few months but I’m quickly learning why Fletcher is such a special place. Don’t hesitate to stop by to chat or just say “Hi!”
Today I’m excited to share the last of this semester’s posts by our Student Stories writers. Excited, especially, because I’m welcoming back Roxanne, who was one of our first student bloggers back in 2012, when she was starting at Fletcher in the MALD program. Since then, she completed her MALD in 2014, with a focus on human security, gender in international studies, and transitional justice. After graduating, she accepted a position as the Program Manager of the Humanitarian Evidence Program at the Feinstein International Center, right here at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. In September, Roxanne also became a Fletcher PhD student, researching the politics of victimhood in armed conflict. I’m super happy that she has agreed to rejoin the blogger crew, and also that we now have a writer who will reflect on the PhD program. Today, a timely post about a conference coming up on Saturday.
When Jessica asked me to return to the Admissions Blog, I accepted with delight. The secret is that I have not left the Fletcher community since my graduation with my MALD in 2014 — and I will gladly tell that story in an upcoming blog post. Today, however, I have stopped in to share some exciting news regarding Fletcher’s first Conference on Gender and International Affairs.
Long-time blog readers may remember that there has been growing momentum surrounding the incorporation of gender analysis into Fletcher’s international curriculum. One of the causes dearest to my heart while I was a MALD student was the Gender Initiative, which I co-chaired and wrote about in this past post. The goal of the student-run Gender Initiative is to create and support academic and professional opportunities related to gender analysis in international studies for interested students and faculty at Fletcher. In the past four years alone, and following the strong legacy of past gender-related activities in the Fletcher community, the Initiative has seen the creation of new courses with an explicit focus of gender analysis, the gathering of data regarding the gender (and other aspects of identity) of the guest speakers invited to Fletcher, the organization of professional seminars and panels on gender-related careers, and a proposal to create a Gender in International Studies Field of Study, which was just approved last month by the Fletcher faculty!
This year’s excellent Gender Initiative leadership, accompanied by the phenomenal leadership of Fletcher’s Global Women organization, has worked hard to organize Fletcher’s first ever conference on Gender and International Affairs: Avenues for Change. Panel topics span sectors and interests, and they include gendered perspectives on inclusion through technology; a discussion of reproductive health, justice, and rights; and gendered aspects of urban displacement in crises. The keynote of the conference will be Dr. Cynthia Enloe, one of the foremost feminist scholars on gender, conflict, and militarism. Fletcher Professors Kimberly Theidon, Dyan Mazurana, Kimberly Wilson, and Rusty Tunnard all have places in the program, and we expect many more faculty will participate in the sessions.
This is an exciting moment for researchers, practitioners, and advocates of gender analysis at Fletcher. Even more exciting is the fact that you can join us: attendance is not limited to members of the Fletcher community, so if you are in the area or have colleagues who may be interested, please feel free to share the information and register to attend! If you do come, please say hello — and stay tuned for a conference recap, as well as an update on my path since graduating from the MALD program, in my next Admissions Blog post.
The last post written by our first-year student bloggers comes from Adnan, who is in the MALD program. As he’ll explain, Adnan and I met at the earliest stages of his graduate school search and it has been a pleasure to keep up with him for more than a year. He was also the very first new student I ran into on the first day of Orientation in August. We were both walking up to Fletcher, and it seemed like an especially fitting start to the new academic year. Naturally, I reached out to him when I was thinking about whom to ask to do some blogging over the next two years. Here’s his story.
Three months in, I’m happy to report that Fletcher is everything I’d imagined it to be, and so much more. My journey began last fall while I was visiting my alma mater, the University of Toronto, and happened to attend the APSIA fair they were hosting. At the time, I was working in Lahore as an associate editor at Newsweek Pakistan, where I had started off as a staff reporter in 2011. I had also been admitted to an international affairs program at another graduate school that spring, but deferred the offer because I wasn’t entirely sure it was the right choice for me. Meeting representatives of various schools at the fair was a great way to get a sense of what else was out there, but the Fletcher booth is where I ended up spending most of my time. I had an engaging conversation with Jessica about whether I’d be a good fit, and it motivated me to make a trip down to Medford.
Visiting campus convinced me that Fletcher was where I wanted to be. I signed up for an interview and a coffee-chat with a student, met with a faculty member, attended a talk, and stayed overnight with a student who heard about me through the mighty Social List. Each activity offered a different perspective on life at Fletcher, and I was able to get answers to all my questions. The diversity of its curriculum, and the freedom to tailor a program to suit my interests were an important part of Fletcher’s appeal, as was its prestigious reputation. What drew me most to the school, however, were Fletcher’s extraordinarily amicable people. Everybody I interacted with seemed genuinely interested in helping, and as I can attest now, it wasn’t just about making a visitor feel welcome, but is very much a part of Fletcher’s culture. I’m lucky to have gotten in, and glad I chose well.
With my background in journalism, I knew that International Information and Communication would be one of my concentrations. This semester, I’m taking International Communication, the required course for that field. Of the many topics covered in class, it’s been fascinating to study the changing context in which global media operates. I am also taking both parts of Social Networks in Organizations, which work toward the field too. Additionally, I am fulfilling my breadth requirements for one ILO course with International Legal Order, and for a required DHP class with Global Political Economy. The second field of study I’m interested in is Strategic Management and International Consultancy. Though this is technically a field for the MIB degree, the flexibility of Fletcher’s programs allows MALD students like me to petition to complete it. To get my foot in the door, I joined the student-run service, 180 Degrees Consulting, and am leading a project to help a nongovernmental organization develop a communication strategy.
While classes are rigorous and demanding, they are one among many sources of learning at Fletcher. Coursework is complemented by daily events that range from conferences and panel discussions, to workshops and film-screenings, often leaving us spoiled for choice. Another great resource is Fletcher’s diverse student body, just casually hanging out with whom can be educational. Through clubs, students arrange organized activities and events too, my favorite of which so far have been the culture nights. I danced in a Bollywood performance at Asia Night, learned Salsa for Fiesta Latina, and am already excited about Africana, Americana, and Mediterranean nights next semester. With everything that goes on, and limited time at hand, coping with the fear of missing out can be a Fletcher student’s biggest challenge. As I learn to prioritize to ensure I make the most of my time here, I look forward to sharing my Fletcher experience with you.
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