Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Mariya is one of the busiest students I know, which makes me lucky that she continues to write for the Admissions Blog.  And not only is she busy, but she’s busy in varied international locations.  Today we’ll read about her fall and winter travels.

Hello readers, and belated Happy New Year!  My fall semester ended with reflections, and this semester, too, begins with reflections.  As I think about all the opportunities I have had at Fletcher, I cannot help but be grateful for so many unique experiences.  To give you a sense of the types of opportunities Fletcher students can pursue during their time here, I would like to highlight two international experiences that have broadened my academic horizons.

Presenting a paper in London

In November, I presented my paper titled “Religious Roots of American Democracy” at the “Democracy and Rule of Law” conference at the University of Westminster in London.  My paper explores the role of religion in the founding and shaping of American democracy and politics.  There were about 15 other scholars of different ages who traveled from all over the world (India, Turkey, Serbia, Italy, Canada, Poland, to name a few) to meet in this intellectual forum, share their research, and solicit feedback.  I was impressed by the diversity of topics presented at the conference.  A German scholar, for example, gave a presentation about heavy metal screaming as a form of cultural resistance and freedom of expression.  A practicing lawyer talked about the principle of legality in the EU’s economic crisis management as it related to Greece’s recession.  And a research fellow shared his paper on whether an Italian law was capable of guaranteeing the rights of beggars against the will of the majority.  I was the only American in the group and my presentation on religion in democracy drew numerous questions.

Although intended mainly for the scholars who would later refine their papers for journal publication by the Center for the Study of International Peace and Security, which hosted the conference, the event was open to the public.  In fact, I met a couple from France who approached me afterward to say they enjoyed my presentation and we engaged in a lengthy dialogue contrasting our countries’ religious freedom laws.  My time in London was very short — literally two full days — but it was nice to connect with my Fletcher scholarship donor, Kate Hedges, who kindly showed me pockets of the city a tour bus would have skipped.  I squeezed in a few touristy excursions before catching a flight back.

While my paper will not be published until April, check out my op-ed published in the Kennedy School Review about the role of religion in the public eye.

Learning Middle Eastern politics in Beirut

In January, after completing a half-credit “J-term” (January course) on lobbying at the Harvard Kennedy School, I flew to Lebanon for the weeklong Beirut Exchange Program.  Nadim Shehadi, director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, encouraged me to apply to this opportunity, given my regional interests in Middle Eastern politics.  A group of 12 professionals from around the world engaged with politicians, journalists, and civil society activists to get an in-depth picture of Lebanese politics.  With the upcoming election in May and the changed electoral law, politicians and Lebanese citizens alike wait with anticipation the unfolding future of their country.  It was fascinating to hear different perspectives on sectarian political representation, Palestinian and Syrian refugee crises, and Lebanon’s 2006 war as it relates to regional geopolitics.

The agenda was jam-packed with lectures, workshops, and a day trip to Tripoli, an hour north of the capital.  There was little time for tourism, but a group of us took advantage of our evenings to explore the downtown nightlife, admire the close proximity of mosques and churches, and indulge in delicious Lebanese cuisine.  I fell in love with the creamy hummus, fresh tabbouleh and perfectly seasoned moutabbal (also known as baba ganoush, an eggplant dip mixed with tahini).  And as always happens on all my international trips, I met a Fletcher alum in the program!  A middle-aged media commentator from Pakistan studied under the same capstone advisor as me: Professor Richard Shultz.

Both of these international experiences were incredible, and would not have been possible without generous support from the Fletcher Educational Enrichment Fund, the Graduate Travel Support Program of the Provost’s Office, the Dean’s Fund, and various campus institutes.  I feel incredibly grateful and blessed to be at a place like Fletcher where students are supported in the opportunities that knock their doors.

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One day last week I was toiling away in my office when I was told that Courtney was asking to see me.  I assumed it was a current student, so I was surprised (and delighted) to find, instead, Courtney Fung, F12, a PhD graduate who is now a professor at the University of Hong Kong, and was spending a day on campus.  Courtney and I go way back to her application days.  Then she spent a year on the Admissions Committee.  One way or another, I feel like we were in regular contact throughout her years at Fletcher.  The last time she visited, she left an umbrella in my office, and I’ve kept it for her (while, admittedly, also using it on occasion if I forgot to bring one).  It always makes me think of Courtney, and though I encouraged her to take it with her last week, she didn’t.  I’ll offer it to her again the next time she visits.  Until then it serves as a nice reminder.

The students in the PhD program are very special members of the community.  Not only do they bring academic strength and the tenacity needed to complete a dissertation, they also have significant professional experience.  The communications office has been interviewing students periodically and these are the profiles that have been written so far.

Phoebe Donnelly
Sarah Detzner
Ana de Alba
Deborshi Barat
Zoltan Feher
Polina Beliakova

Self-profiles of more students are available on our website.

Also last week, I received a link to a podcast that a recent PhD graduate had recorded as a guest.  On the podcast, Michael Sullivan, who just defended his dissertation in September, discusses leadership, resiliency, and the charity event he organized, “Shootout for Soldiers.”  He talks about his experience at Fletcher at about the 40-minute mark of the interview.  It’s a good listen in general, but particularly for anyone curious about the U.S. military officers who step away from the day-to-day of their careers to pursue a degree at Fletcher.

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Today I’d like to share the second installment of Faculty Facts.  As I put together these summaries of research and professional activities, I’ll continue to try to show the breadth of professors’ interests by profiling representatives of various fields in each post.  In a professional school with a multidisciplinary curriculum, the range of activities is especially broad.  In case you missed it, the first Faculty Facts post appeared last week.

Tom Dannenbaum, Assistant Professor of International Law

I have recently completed a book on the criminalization of aggression, which will come out in the next few months.  The book argues that the revival of the crime has more significant implications for soldiers on either side of such wars than has thus far been appreciated.  It builds on a recent article, Why Have We Criminalized Aggressive War?, which provides an account of the criminal wrongfulness of aggression, and which was awarded the Lieber Prize by the American Society of International Law.  Moving forward, I am working on several projects, including a piece on the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, a piece on the law and ethics of medical care in armed conflict, and a theory of war crimes.

Professor Dannenbaum’s profile.

Monica Duffy Toft, Professor of International Politics

I continue to research the role of religion in global politics and the onset of large-scale violence.  I am finishing a book on demography and national security and beginning a major project on U.S. military interventions.

Professor Toft’s profile.  The website for the Center for Strategic Studies, which Professor Toft directs.

Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University

I am working on a new project tentatively entitled “Islamic Universalism, Liberalism and the Age of Empire” that probes Muslim responses to liberal values and thought projected by Western empires, most notably the British in India as well as in West and South East Asia. This builds on my most recent research and writing examining the inter-connectivities, and especially the intellectual, cultural and political exchanges, between the Indus-Gangetic plain and the wide world of Islam on the Indian Ocean Rim, which is being brought out as a jointly edited volume called Islam is the Ocean.

My purpose in conducting this inquiry is to assess the validity of the claim — initially made by Orientalist scholars, often linked with colonial administrations in different parts of Asia but which since has been accepted as something of an academic “orthodoxy” — that Muslims cannot be liberal in the true sense of the word because of the limitations imposed on their thinking by the imperatives of their faith.  In addition to subjecting the concept of liberalism to rigorous historical and intellectual scrutiny with a view to questioning its exclusively Western trajectory, I am in the process of tracing debates during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in which Muslims, operating at a transnational level, took the initiative of challenging Western writers and policymakers who portrayed the Faithful as averse to reform and progress.  In subsequent phases of the research, I will be looking at the impact of the post-WWII international system based on modern nation-states in molding conceptions of “liberal” thinking in the Muslim world during the Cold War and the post-Cold War periods.  In sum, this project addresses many of the key issues discussed in the contemporary debate on Muslims and liberalism by offering an analytically focused, sharply critical and historically grounded perspective.

Professor Jalal’s profile.  She previously wrote a Faculty Spotlight post.

John Shattuck, Professor of Practice in Diplomacy

I am on leave from Fletcher this semester and I’m serving as a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley, where I am engaged in a comparative research and writing project on illiberal governance and democratic resilience in the U.S. and Europe.  My research on democratic resilience in the U.S. will be issued this spring as a report by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, where I am a Senior Fellow.  I delivered the keynote address, “The Crisis of Democracy in the U.S. and Europe,” at the Genron Institute international conference on challenges to democracy in Tokyo in November; and will be a keynote speaker this spring at conferences at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Georgetown University, Harvard Law School, and Brandeis University.  I chair the international advisory board of the Center on Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University.

I’ve recently published two research papers, and a third is forthcoming.

How Resilient is Liberal Democracy in the US?,” published by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, February 15, 2018
Democracy and Illiberal Governance,” The American Prospect, August 29, 2017
“Will Democracy in America Survive Donald Trump?,” forthcoming from The American Prospect, March/April 2018

Professor Shattuck’s profile.

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Today we’ll turn back to the Class of 2012, and to a friend of the Admissions Office.  Kartik was a member of the Admissions Office staff for both of his two years in the MALD program.  I remember taking him along for a grad school fair in Boston.  It has been a treat to have an excuse to reconnect with him.

My path to Fletcher was fairly convoluted.  My first job out of college was in the Boston area at an economic policy consulting firm.  The job was mainly focused on economic issues around infrastructure development in the U.S.  As a kid I️ grew up in a few different countries and I️ really wanted work that would let me travel internationally as much as possible.  For the longest time I️ thought that would mean getting an MBA and finding a job as a management consultant or the like.  That was until a friend told me about International Relations as a degree and, after doing some research, I️ found out about Fletcher.

During Fletcher:

I had developed a quantitative background during college and my job.  When I started at Fletcher, I found that taking theoretical and qualitative classes on subjects I️ had never studied before was a lot harder than I️ had initially anticipated.  However the experience was definitely made easier by the professors and my fellow Fletcher students, who were a lot of help during that time.  I️ was lucky enough to get into Professor Everett’s petroleum class in my first semester, which I️ have to say was a definite life-changer for me.  I️ had known that I️ wanted to go into the field of energy post-Fletcher, but I️ wasn’t sure doing what/where — that class definitely helped make that decision for me.

My experience in the petroleum class solidified my belief that international energy was a space rife with interesting issues and it would be an interesting path to follow as a career.  What I️ learned in that class and others in the environmental concentration is content and skills that I️ still use to this day.  In hindsight, I️ also have to say that the classes I️ took outside of the environmental stream, like Professor Trachtman’s law class, were also very helpful.

As an aside, I️ want to point out that my extracurricular activities at Fletcher included hosting Fletcher Follies, and the experience of making light of often serious issues showed me a side of Fletcher that I️ hadn’t previously experienced.  I️t was a transformational and extremely fun experience.

After Fletcher:

Between my two years at Fletcher, I️ interned at a small consulting firm in Washington, DC that specialized in political risk and energy.  Then, after graduating, I got a job with a few colleagues from that firm who left to start their own practice in New York.

As a member of a small team, right out of grad school, I️ had significant responsibility for what I️ was working on.  This involved a lot of client sales and conferences along with actual research and presentations.  We were dealing with global energy issues where I️ got to travel to a number of very interesting places and deal with some extremely interesting problems.  These spanned the spectrum from corruption issues in Brazil to the opening up of the Iranian oil sector.

In 2015, after three years in that job, I got an opportunity to expand my energy work and go into the field of equity research for the energy sector at Bernstein, where I️ am presently.  Today I️ work on stock pricing in the energy sector — my team is responsible for setting a price for energy stocks that many investors trade off of.  In addition, about half my time is spent answering investor questions about various global and local issues that could potentially affect commodity and stock prices.  These topics can span anything that might directly or indirectly cause changes in the energy markets, which makes the job both very interesting and challenging.  I️ need to talk about what is happening with scud missiles falling in Saudi Arabia in the same conversation as the EPA’s clean air rules.  Many of these topics remain those about which I️ learned to form opinions in my classes at Fletcher.

The one thing that I️ do regret to this day is not taking the corporate finance classes with Professor Jacque.  Being in a finance job was not something that I️ had ever wanted or worked towards, but it definitely took me longer to learn the ropes because I️ didn’t have a background in finance.  In hindsight, I️ think the corporate finance classes would have been very helpful and I️ would recommend them highly to anyone who is still at Fletcher.  You never know when you might need them!

I️ have kept in touch with quite a few Fletcher friends who have been invaluable in both my professional and personal growth and being in New York has given me a real appreciation of Fletcher connections.  I️t is also incredible how many Fletcher graduates I️ have run into in countries around the world, whether I️ am visiting for fun or for work.

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Something silly for you today.  Back at the fall semester’s Annual Faculty and Staff Wait on You Dinner, the Admissions team offered up a few prizes.  As mentioned in an earlier post, one was our interview room, to be used for quiet personal study space (stocked with snacks) during exams.  The other, which took longer to organize, was a trip to an indoor trampoline park with the Admissions team.  Here’s what happens when you get the staff and students out of the building.

First, everyone poses for a group photo.

Then there’s a second group photo of the jumping socks — in a color pleasingly close to Fletcher orange.

And, naturally, the Fletcher flag comes out.

I’m sorry that I needed to miss the outing, but I’m grateful to Liz, who provided the photos and the stories of what a great time it was.


Members of Fletcher’s faculty are first-and-foremost educators.  They teach, advise students on Capstone Projects and PhD dissertations, provide governance for the School, organize conferences, and do all the other activities that are associated with being a professor.  But it’s also typical for professors to conduct research, write, publish, and maintain associations with professional groups.  While they might teach the same classes for several years in a row, their research and professional activities can change yearly.  As I noted yesterday, I asked the faculty to provide a brief summary of what they are working on and I’ll be sharing their summaries today and weekly until I have published them all.  I’ll also include videos, such as interviews with Dean Stavridis, or other materials you may want to check out, after reading the summaries.

Karen Jacobsen, Henry J. Leir Professor in Global Migration

My current main research is the Refugees in Towns project, which supports towns and urban neighborhoods in becoming immigrant- and refugee-friendly spaces that take full advantage of the benefits brought by refugees, while finding ways to manage the inevitable and long-term challenges of immigrant integration.

Professor Jacobsen’s profile.

Chris Miller, Assistant Professor of International History

My current research examines the past and future of Russian power projection in Asia.  After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia began what many in Moscow describe as a “turn to the east” — an effort to deepen relations with China and expand Russia’s role in Asia.  Yet this is not the first time Russia has pivoted toward Asia.  The book I am writing studies the history of Russia’s Asian pivots from the early 1800s, when Russia first established a major foothold on the Pacific Ocean, through the present, to understand the roots of the Kremlin’s current effort to bolster its role in Asia.

Professor Miller’s website.  He previously wrote a Faculty Spotlight post.

Larry Krohn, Adjunct Professor of International Economics

I’m finishing a book, under contract with University of Toronto Press, on the economics of Latin America (an 18-nation universe).  It deals with policy issues experienced over roughly the last thirty years (from the famous Washington Consensus).  This was my area of specialization when I worked as an economist in financial services (1983-2008) and was what first brought me to Fletcher in 2005.  The work is organized around issues, macro and structural, using country experiences as case studies.  Not surprisingly, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are cited most often.  Many of the issues I deal with are not familiar to students exposed only to the usual micro-cum-macro principles courses taken in nations deemed of high income, and thus with an orientation to the problems of that economic stratum — decidedly not that of Latin America in the period under study.  So I ensure that the basic theoretical notions and vocabulary of each subject area are conveyed to the reader before tackling the strictly Latin manifestations of the problem.

Professor Krohn’s profile.  He previously wrote a Faculty Spotlight post.

Ian Johnstone, Professor of International Law

I am currently engaged in three strands of research.  The first is the most theoretical.  It extends the work I have done on legal interpretive communities by situating it in the growing body of literature in international relations on “communities of practice.”  A question I am exploring is whether a global interpretive community ever exists in a given issue area (for example on the use of force in international law), or whether it makes more sense to speak of multiple interpretive communities from different parts of the world that may or may not intersect.

The second strand of research is on peacekeeping and international law.  I am editing a volume that pulls together the seminal writings on the topic, with an introductory essay that will serve as both a literature review and analysis of the current state of the law.

The third strand, which is more policy-oriented, considers various ways in which global health and global security intersect.  Within that framework, I am currently engaged in research on the practice of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that seeks to address the stigmatization of forcibly displaced persons as carriers of infectious disease.

On a separate track, the new Center for International Law and Governance (which I co-direct with Professor Joel Trachtman) is holding an interdisciplinary conference on cyber-security in September 2018.  A series of panels will consider whether international legal mechanisms can and should be developed to address politically-motivated cyber attacks on civilian institutions and infrastructure.  Our plan is to engage policy-makers on the topic with the goal of having a practical impact, as well to produce an edited volume that will contribute to the scholarly literature.

Professor Johnstone’s profile.

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By midday yesterday, students were wrapping up their classes and heading to trains, planes, buses, and cars to travel to Washington, DC for the annual Office of Career Services organized Career Trip.  Students will have selected the panels and site visits that interest them.  They may have set up their own informational interviews.  And they’ll probably attend a happy hour and the student-alumni reception — a great event for all involved.

Not everyone attends the Career Trip, of course.  Some folks have no plans to work in DC.  Others have already lined up an internship or post-Fletcher job.  But even some students in one of those categories will attend for the networking opportunities.  Those who don’t attend will be better rested and prepared for class on Monday than their peers who did.  Classes are canceled today and tomorrow for the trip.

Meanwhile the staff has a couple of quiet days at Fletcher.  I’m actually reading applications at home today, but I’ll be in the office tomorrow to absorb the quiet.

While absorbing, I’ll also be introducing a new feature.  There are so many ways to learn about Fletcher’s professors, but most of these resources don’t change regularly.  To capture the out-of-the-classroom research, consulting, writing, etc. that faculty members are doing, I asked them to provide me with a quick summary.  I was excited to receive a big batch of responses, and I look forward to sharing them with you tomorrow and in the next two or three weeks.

Once I had collected the summaries, I asked my Admissions pals to help me think of a title to capture all the posts.  They succeeded in sending me a few suggestions that made me laugh (“Professors: They’re just like us”) and also one that I’ll use: Faculty Facts.  Or Fac Facts for short.  If nothing else, they saved me from using “update” yet again.  Look for the first of the Fac Facts tomorrow.


Let’s meet the folks whom the Fletcher Student Council profiled in the second of their community introductions.  You can find the first of the introductions here.

Moriah (first-year Januarian MALD)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am studying International Security Studies and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (for now!).

What did you do before Fletcher?
I spent time in California doing environmental restoration and trail work.  Most recently, I was in Washington, DC working with the Democratic National Committee, managing technology projects.

Where are you from?
I consider myself to be a pan-Southerner.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
All of Bangkok, but the Grand Palace — with its life-size monkey soldiers holding up one of the palace domes — is my favorite.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My grandmother, who came of age in Jim Crow-era Alabama, worked while putting herself through college and raising two children, and was a teacher for over 30 years.  Through it all, she has always maintained a sense of humor and curiosity about what life has to hold.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I once caught a jackrabbit with my bare hands.  It was awesome.

Which living person do you most admire?
I really admire Condoleezza Rice and her story.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Choosing a course out of the many here — four semesters is not enough!

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Shopping day was really fun!  The ability to explore any course you’re interested in is such a great opportunity.

Dylan (second-year Januarian MIB)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
International Business: Strategy and Consulting.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I was a physical commodities trader in Durban, South Africa.

Where are you from?
Durban, South Africa.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Tough question!  Although I have traveled extensively, Cape Town in South Africa is still my favorite place and the most beautiful city I have ever seen.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My father.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Getting a full scholarship for my undergraduate degree at BYU was a tipping point in my life.

Which living person do you most admire?
Desmond Tutu.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Braving the Boston winter is a daily struggle — I’m getting better at this.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Being a part of the Januarian Class of 2019 is a blast!

Dave (first-year Januarian PhD)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
Security studies, outside intervention into civil wars and humanitarian disasters.

What did you do before Fletcher?
Columbia SIPA, think-tanker in Washington.

Where are you from?

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Crested Butte (one of the last great mountain towns).

Who are your favorite writers?
Lauryn Hill, Steve Coll, Dr. Seuss.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My family.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Staying at home with my new son for the last eight months.

Which living person do you most admire?
My wife.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Trying to sneak out of an event after splitting my pants.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Human rights law (took it many summers ago).

Brad Macomber (Media Services Specialist)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I am a Media Services Specialist.  I help with classroom technology, video conferencing, and events.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I was in a similar role at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline for over a decade.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Marblehead, MA, up on the north shore, a beautiful little town that I highly recommend visiting!

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
While it’s not the most unique place in New England, my family always went to Lake Megunticook outside of Camden, ME every summer.  It’s the most serene, calming place I can think of.

Who are your favorite writers?
I’m a huge fan of Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ray Bradbury.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My parents.  My father was (he recently retired) a doctor in Marblehead and my mother was the head nurse in their office.  They both dedicated their entire professional careers to making people comfortable and healthy.  I can’t walk through my hometown without people stopping me and telling me a story about something remarkable one of my parents did for them.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’d love to say all the touring I’ve done with my various bands, but my relationship with my wife has been and continues to be my greatest achievement.

Which living person do you most admire?
Again, it would have to be my parents.  They have always provided me with everything I needed and did so (generally) with a smile.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Being one person trying to stay on top of all the requests for assistance (which are sometimes inherently last minute) can be very challenging.  Fortunately, folks within the Fletcher community are very understanding.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Commencement and Convocation are two of my favorite times of year, but this year, I received an American flag that had been flown over the Baghdad Embassy as a thank you from a student who recently got their PhD here.  It was extremely touching and the flag is framed in my workshop now.  Makes me very proud.

Jette Knudsen (Professor of Policy and International Business)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I am interested in government regulation of social welfare.  I define this topic as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and employment and training policies that focus on low-skilled workers.  My overarching research interest has been to try and understand how governments can contribute to reconciling market pressures with norms of fairness.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked as an Assistant Professor at the Copenhagen Business School for a few years and I also worked at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels.  For four years I then served as the Director of a think tank in Copenhagen that focused on CSR and I worked for Maersk (a large shipping and oil conglomerate) as a CSR expert.  I also worked as a consultant for Deloitte and PwC.  Before coming to Fletcher, I was appointed as a Professor of Political Science at Copenhagen University and I had been on sabbatical for a year at MIT.  I am still affiliated with Copenhagen Business School as a Velux Fellow and remain engaged in various research collaborations with my former colleagues.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Denmark.  I first visited the U.S. when I was 19 years old.  I spent a year at a small liberal arts college called Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin funded by the Scandinavian-American Foundation.  I liked the U.S. very much and later came back and did a PhD at MIT.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
In December 2017, I saw the Nerja Caves near Malaga, Spain.  They were inhabited from about 25,000 BC up until the Bronze Age.  Cave paintings, found on the walls, date back to the Paleolithic and Post-Paleolithic periods and show a culture based upon hunting.  The caves were amazing.

Who are your favorite writers?
One of my favorite books is Memoirs of a Geisha.  I read that book on a plane once coming from France when the engine caught fire and we had to make an emergency landing in Switzerland.  I hardly noticed the problems because the book was so good.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My dad, who has always told me to find my own way in life.  He did so himself and built an amazing naval architecture company that was engaged in improving shipping transportation all over the world.  Another inspiration is Mr. Maersk McKinney Moeller who hired me while I was in graduate school and later to work on sustainability in Maersk.  I have a great card from him where he congratulates me for getting into the political science PhD program, and then adds, “Ms. Knudsen please do not forget to focus on real life.”  I try to remember that.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have a son who is both smart and kind.  I can’t really say that he is my greatest achievement as he is clearly his own person, but I am proud of him.  He will be attending Tufts next year and I am very pleased.

Which living person do you most admire?
I can’t think of a particular person that I most admire.  But I do think that having “grace under fire” is an admirable trait.  I admire people who face unspeakable tragedy yet are able to carry on.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
I am not very practical and so the Fletcher IT system can sometimes be a challenge, but I want it to work perfectly every time I am in the classroom.  I do not think the students know my limitations because Brad Macomber has always been able to cover for me.  Thanks Brad!

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Getting tenure as a full professor in the fall 2017.

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Time for an admissions process update!

Since January 10 — our first regular deadline for applications for September enrollment — your applications have been working their way through a process that goes like this:

Receive application
Check application for needed materials
Mark application as complete once all materials are received
Have a student read the application (primarily for MA, MALD, MIB)
Have a staff member read the application
Have faculty members read the application, as appropriate (more for PhDs, fewer for MALD)
Move the application to a virtual “bin,” where it waits until we release decisions.

Quite a few applications are already in their final bin, while many others (including those received by February 10) are still snaking their way through the process.  Also on the move: EN applications submitted last fall for which we deferred making a decision to this spring.  All will be reviewed again with Committee discussions as necessary.

Once we complete application review for all programs, we’ll release decisions.  For applicants offered admission, decisions will be accompanied by scholarship information.  Even applications submitted by March 1 (the final deadline for the LLM and MIB programs), will be decided on by the decision date, so long as they are complete on March 1.  We don’t yet know on which day we’ll be releasing decisions, but we always aim for the third week of March or earlier.  I’ll try to provide a date in March, once all is clear.

Whenever I take a minute to think about it, as I’m doing now, I appreciate how long the review process must feel to applicants.  Probably a good number of you are relieved to be done with your applications and to let us do the work for a while.  Others find this stretch much less relaxing.  To all of you, I just want you to know that we’re working hard on your behalf and we’re pleased with how smoothly the process has gone.  Committee discussions are respectful and are helping to shape our reading and our future class.  We still have another month or so in front of us before we’ll release decisions, but I hope it’s helpful to have a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes process.


Continuing an annual tradition, it’s Valentine’s Day, which calls for stories of Fletcher couples.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading about these eight alumni who gained more than an education from their Fletcher experience.

Eric, F95, and Caroline, F95
We were both dating other people our first year at Fletcher.  One of us was unceremoniously dumped at the end of that year, the other nearby with soothing words.  Those soothing words continued all summer by phone with Eric in DC and Caroline at Middlebury.  Feelings intensified when reunited in Medford that fall, with the minor issue of one outside relationship still in the mix.  Awkwardness was averted by hiding behind study dates that were almost always followed by dinner.  When the issue finally came to the fore, Eric asked Caroline, “Why are you afraid of trying this?”  Her answer: “Because it might work.”  Dating ensued.  MALDs were minted with no jobs in sight.  Caroline went to Philly, Eric to Chicago.  We reunited for a Fletcher classmate’s wedding, at which point another Fletcher classmate told us to choose to be together.  Engagement followed, though the engagement ring was quickly returned in favor of two tickets to Hong Kong, where we worked, lived, and had two daughters over eight years.  We’ve now been together 24 years, married almost 21.  We’re happily settled in Seattle and about to send our oldest daughter off to college.  How time flies!

The happy couple and their Fletcher friends — in a photo of a print from a pre-digital photo album.

Cass, F16, and Matheus, F16

We met at the New York Career Trip student/alumni reception.  After a few months, Matheus asked Cass on a date during Americana Night and she agreed after watching his performance on guitar.  We were married in Manhattan at New York City Hall with a handful of friends, totally impromptu.  We still wear the wedding bands that we ordered with same-day delivery from Amazon Prime, and we celebrated our first wedding anniversary at our Fletcher graduation together.


Sarah, F10, and Trevor, F11
Sarah and Trevor first met at Fletcher in 2010, and quickly bonded over their shared love of single malt Scotch and Professor Glennon’s classes.  In 2014, they made it official at a small wedding at a Virginia winery, attended by Fletcher friends from around the globe.  The couple make their home with their pup Diesel in Washington, DC, where Sarah is a Lead Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton and Trevor is the Deputy Head of Policy for the DC office of the International Committee of the Red Cross.  They enjoy travel, hiking with Diesel, hanging out with their fellow Fletcher alums in DC, and trying not to be too anxious about the state of the world.


Mary, F88, and Jim, F87, FG89
Fall 1986: Mary arrives at Fletcher as a new first year.  Settling into the dorm, she keeps meeting second-year students who say: “Oh, you were in the Peace Corps?  You’re interested in Students for Development Studies?  You should meet Jim!”  Jim returns from a summer internship in Somalia, reconnecting with friends who keep saying: “Hey, there’s a new first-year student you have to meet — her name’s Mary!”  And so we were matched before we met.  Turns out we had lots more in common than met the eye: similar family backgrounds and deeper values, etc.  A year later, we’d been married and welcomed Baby Aaron into our family in Blakeley Hall, where we had taken the job of resident directors.  Diapers before diplomas!  The Fletcher community was so warm and welcoming; our memories from those days are precious.  We headed to Washington, DC with degrees in hand, and Baby #2 on the way.  Since then, we’ve lived and worked in Thailand, Jerusalem (where #3 son was born), Croatia, and Vietnam, having wonderful family adventures along with great professional experiences.  Both of us still work in international development, currently living at home base in the DC area, where we continue to treasure Fletcher friendships as much as ever.


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