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Many Fletcher student clubs and organizations are designed purely with fun in mind. Case in point: Fermentation 101. But most students will also connect with an organization that links to their academic interests. Today, second-year MALD student, Dara, tells us about her work with an activity that goes beyond the walls of Fletcher.
Like many volunteers, I became involved with the Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP) in my first year at Fletcher because of my general interest in refugee issues. TU-RAP pairs newly arrived refugee families in the Boston area with groups of Tufts University students. The students visit the families’ homes regularly to lend a hand with anything the family members may need to orient themselves to life in the United States. I learned that this may include assisting with bill paying, helping children with homework, practicing English, or teaching the family how to use public transportation.
Aware that refugees can experience a great deal of difficulty assimilating into a new life and culture, I was really excited to join the program as a volunteer. My group was paired with a small family from Chad: a father (Caleb), mother, and a newly born, beautiful little girl. While the family spoke very little English, luckily two members of the volunteer group spoke moderate French. After being cut off from the support of their resettlement agency, and with the father unable to work due to a medical condition, the family was having a hard time meeting their basic needs. Fortunately, they received government food assistance and were permitted to stay free of charge in an apartment. All other material necessities such as diapers and transportation fees were hard to obtain, though.
Despite their difficulties, the family did the utmost to welcome us into their home. Each time we visited, we were provided with fresh fruit, soda and water. While there was not much we could do to help Caleb find a job, because of his condition, we did what we could. We practiced English with the family, helped them sort through mail, and brought over a French driving manual in preparation for Caleb’s road test. Once, we even helped to read and translate documents to enroll the family in health insurance. Completing the enrollment paperwork took the entire visit, but it was very rewarding to be able to help with something they needed so much.
While I’m sure our assistance really benefited the family, I think we as volunteers gained the most from the experience. Having a close-up look at the difficulties refugees face gave us an awareness of the gravity of the problem, and helped us to appreciate the conveniences of our own lives. What really affected me was how this family — completely uprooted from their country, isolated from their relatives, and placed in a foreign country where they neither speak the language nor know the culture — remains positive. Until this day, I speak often to my Chadian family and am happy to know that they consider me a friend. For me, TU-RAP has been a life changing experience. For that reason, I joined TU-RAP leadership this year to ensure that more students and refugees in need benefit from this program.
Tagged with: Outside the classroom
With students from around the world, the Fletcher community acts quickly in response to regional disasters. Since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the Philippines, students have started to organize fund-raising activities, and I’m sure we’ll have details on their plans this week.
Meanwhile, readers might be interested in the work of a graduate of Fletcher’s PhD program, Patrick Meier. Through a current student, Patrick sent this message to the community over the weekend:
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs just activated the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) in response to Typhoon Yolanda, which has already been described as possibly one of the strongest Category 5 storms in history. The Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) was in turn activated by the DHN to carry out a rapid needs and damage assessment by tagging reports posted to social media. So colleagues and I have launched MicroMappers in partnership with the SBTF to micro-task the tagging of tweets. We need all the help we can get given the volume we’ve collected (and are continuing to collect). This is where you come in!
In short, Patrick is part of team that is calling on individuals to monitor posts to social media as a means of determining where need is greatest in typhoon-struck areas of the Philippines. He has asked Fletcher students to jump in and help. Blog readers are also invited to be part of this effort. Details , as well as a live crisis map, can be found on Patrick’s blog.
Dean Stavridis joined us here at Fletcher just last July, and we’ve all been enjoying getting to know him. Lucky for us, our opportunities to learn what he thinks extend beyond meetings or occasional interactions in the Hall of Flags. Here are some sources of info on the Dean:
• An article in Tufts Magazine that was also featured on the Tufts Now site.
• His own blog, “To Know the World,” which also includes videos created in October and September.
• Op-Ed pieces in publications, such as The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe.
Tagged with: Dean Stavridis
Tomorrow and Saturday, many students will be participating in the International Security Studies Program’s Simulex event. Not only students, in fact, but also experts from U.S. War Colleges, National Defense University, Military Service Academies, and several other local universities. The flyer announcing Simulex invites students to, “Develop and put your negotiation and crisis management skills to practice and save the (simulated) world! Test your wits against your fellow students, senior political-military officials, and U.S. Government war gaming experts.”
Still catching up with some news from the summer (however distant a memory summer might be), I’m happy to shine a light on all that GMAP has been up to. Thanks to Adeline Wong (GMAP admissions manager) for writing up all the details of their busy summer.
Welcome to our newest Fletcher students, and a big welcome back to returning students, faculty, and staff! For most of Fletcher, summer is a time of travel, research, and regrouping before the following academic year. For the Global Master of Arts Program at Fletcher, it is a time of peak excitement and activity.
GMAP is a hybrid, mid-career master’s degree program that combines three two-week residencies with 33 weeks of online instruction. New classes start each March and July and complete the program one year later. Because students come together only three times a year, each of these residencies are intense experiences, with classroom sessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, supplemented with invited speakers, social events, and of course, great meals and stimulating conversations.
Over the summer, there were three GMAP residencies. The first was the closing residency for the July Class of 2012-2013. This was GMAP’s 22nd Commencement exercise. Traditionally, the program invites a GMAP alumnus to return as Commencement speaker, and this July, GMAP was delighted to welcome back Mark Mullinix (GMAP ’11), First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The class elected as their Class Speaker Khaled Mansour (GMAP13), an Egyptian journalist and novelist who was, until recently, Director of Communications at UNICEF. Professor Peter Walker, a member of GMAP’s faculty, provided the farewell from the faculty.
As GMAP celebrated its newest alumni group, we were also delighted to welcome its newest students, the July Class of 2013-14, who began their first residency on July 29. This new class of 38 students, representing some 20 different countries, came from the fields of energy, diplomacy, military, non-government organizations, business, finance, and law. Amidst orientation, classes, meals and speakers, the class also indulged in a long Tufts tradition – cannon painting! They also met Dean Jim Stavridis during his first few weeks as dean, when he shared his thoughts on returning to Fletcher after his years in the Navy.
GMAP then had its third residency, this time with our March Class of 2013-14 at their midyear international residency in Berlin, Germany. Each GMAP class travels to an international location for one of the three residencies, where they immerse themselves in the political, economic and social concerns of the country, especially as it relates to their studies. In Berlin, GMAPers found themselves in the front row viewing conversations on Germany’s economic and political reality in the European Union. Staying at a hotel just minutes from the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, the Bundestag, and Checkpoint Charlie, the GMAP students, faculty, and staff also gained a deep appreciation for Germany and Europe’s history.
One of the highlights of the Berlin residency was the interaction that the GMAP Class had with Ambassador Klaus Scharioth — a distinguished Fletcher alumnus who was the former State Secretary of the German Foreign Office and the former German Ambassador to the United States (2006-2011) — and with Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, also an alum and former German Ambassador to the United States (2001-2006). Ambassador Ischinger invited the GMAP students and Fletcher alumni to an incredible evening at the Allianz Forum, located in the shadows of the Brandenburg Gate. He also hosted a dinner followed by a discussion with distinguished thinkers: Ambassador Scharioth, Dr. Helmut Anheier, Dean of the Hertie School of Governance, and Dr. Jörg Rocholl, President of the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT). The conversation delved into Germany’s identity, the European crisis, and transatlantic relations. You may have seen Dean Deborah Nutter’s interview with the two ambassadors in front of the Brandenburg gate on Dean Stavridis’ blog.
In addition, some 20 GMAP alumni met in Berlin for an Alumni Weekend consisting of continuing education classes, as well as social events which built new networks among the alumni and the students.
It was a wonderful summer for GMAP, filled with warm welcomes to new students, jubilant congratulations to new alumni, and a renewal of friendships among continuing students. We could not ask for a better way to start the new academic year!
Tagged with: GMAP
2013 is a birthday year for Fletcher — 80 years since the school’s founding in 1933. To mark the occasion, students, staff, faculty, and many alumni will be attending a gala on Saturday evening. And timed to coincide with the gala, The Fletcher Forum sent this announcement yesterday:
The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs is pleased to announce the online launch of our brand new issue, Vol. 37:3, “Fletcher at 80.” The Special Issue celebrates Fletcher’s 80th year with articles written by Fletcher alumni, faculty, and students.
The Special Edition of The Fletcher Forum features articles by Stephen W. Bosworth, Dean Emeritus of The Fletcher School, who shares his reflections on his tenure as Dean. It also includes a message from current Dean James Stavridis, who suggests key areas of focus for the school in the years ahead, while also reflecting on its cherished history. Prominent alumni and faculty lend their insights, and we read thoughts from Ambassador William A. Rugh, Richard H. Shultz, Jr., Ambassador Derek J. Mitchell, Hans Binnendijk, Michael Parmly, and many more. The edition also includes a conversation with Mimi Alemayehou, Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Topics covered range from U.S.-Burma relations, to gender analyses in international development, to the challenges facing NATO, to a change in the status quo at Guantánamo Bay. To view the complete list of articles and abstracts, along with PDF versions of the articles, please visit our website. Individual PDFs of the articles are also available.
The Forum is run by a staff of forty graduate students here at The Fletcher School, and your support helps us to put out the best product possible each semester. For further information, please contact The Forum staff. On behalf of the staff of The Fletcher Forum we thank you for reading and look forward to your comments, feedback, and submissions!
Tagged with: Fletcher Forum
Fletcher’s Ginn Library reference librarian, Ellen McDonald, and I share something in common: we both have had two Fletcher careers. In Ellen’s case, both careers (separated by a long gap) were in the library. I asked her to reflect on the amazing change to the library’s role in the sharing of information from her first career to her second.
Libraries are undergoing rapid change and Fletcher’s Ginn Library is no exception. Thirty years ago, the central feature of the library’s Reference Room was eight sections of 72-drawer catalog cabinets. Computers were tucked into a small room which contained four boxy terminals. Students worked at the Reading Room tables or settled into individually assigned study carrels in the stacks. The on-duty Reference Librarian could be found seated at a centrally located desk with a phone and small ready-reference book collection at hand. The general rule of library etiquette was QUIET.
Today, Ginn Library looks and feels very different. While quiet study space continues to be one of the library’s main attractions, Fletcher students today also require collaborative work space. One of the major features of a Fletcher education is networking: sharing knowledge and the creation of lifetime bonds. Changes in technology, research, teaching, and learning have created a very different context for the missions of academic libraries. As scholarship has grown more interdisciplinary, so has the library’s space evolved to facilitate this transition. Today, Ginn is filled with furniture and spaces that are easily adapted to changing research and study styles. The lower stacks area is now a group study lounge, equipped with large screens and whiteboards. The group project areas are abuzz with students interacting, teaching one another in peer-to-peer workshops and collaborating on group assignments.
Information abundance due to mass digitization means that librarians have more work guiding users to the right sources — scholarly content can get lost in the internet flood. Increasingly, librarians serve as curators of information, determining what to collect, store and deliver…and what not to collect. With information-on-demand and instant information gratification the rule of the day, googlized students are less likely to need the fact-checking skills of a Reference Librarian. Increasingly, students and professors turn primarily to Ginn’s librarians for in-depths consultations about research papers, Capstone Projects, internships, dissertations and field work. Many of these reference transactions have moved from a reference office and phone to an online chat or e-mail. Some of our GMAP students prefer the technological synthesis of old and new interactions that Skype offers…a digital “face-to-face” meeting.
The impact of digital technology pervades most every library function. The library’s oak catalog disappeared twenty years ago and large portions of the collection have followed it into the virtual world. The ability to digitally obtain material via interlibrary loans has exploded the physical limitations of the library’s collection. Ginn has less need to store large runs of journals, as digital libraries and resource-sharing consortia proliferate. But walk into the Reading Room, and you’ll be transported back in time to Fletcher’s beginnings when the photograph to the right was taken. Some things will never change. The walls here still contain the same treaty collections, state papers and legal treatises. Portraits of former deans still line the walls. The library as a physical place continues to be a hub of learning and a connection to our past and shared history. Despite all that has changed over the decades in Ginn Library, visiting alumni will discover a library space that continues on as the heart of the Fletcher School — a place for connection, collaboration and contemplation.
Tagged with: Ginn Library
In her final post today about the World Peace Foundation, Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the WPF Research Director and Assistant Research Professor at Fletcher, invites Fletcher students to become involved in the work of WPF. The first post, which described WPF’s history, appeared two weeks ago, and the second post, describing the World Peace Foundation’s current work and mission, appeared last Wednesday.
If you are interested in the work of the World Peace Foundation (WPF), there are a number of ways that you can get involved with us. You can take our classes — Alex de Waal is teaching a course on African Politics in Fall 2013 and Bridget Conley-Zilkic is teaching on Mass Atrocities in Spring 2014. Or you can attend our events, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on twitter (@WorldPeaceFoundation), and explore our website.
Access short, insightful essays by WPF staff and other global experts on our areas of thematic concern on our blog, Reinventing Peace. Among the essays are series on reclaiming activism, ending mass atrocities, conflict mediation, new wars, and more.
If you are reading this as an enrolled Fletcher School student (master’s-level or PhD) you can also participate in our annual student seminar competition. Each year we invite proposals from Fletcher students for a two-day seminar to be held on campus in February 2014. WPF seminars offer a rare opportunity for leading experts to engage in incisive, collegial, and sustained dialogue on the pressing problems of our day. The student competition enables Fletcher School students to frame an issue and interact with leading global experts on the topic of their choosing.
Past winning topics include “Western Advocacy in Conflict” (2012-2013) and “Drug Trafficking and Organized International Crime: Re-Framing the Debate.” (2011-2012).
The deadline for submitting a proposal is October 10, 2013. Full information about the competition is available on our website.
WPF also hires two research assistants to help with our work for each academic year. While the 2013-2014 positions are filled, look for new opportunities in the coming year. We also have a number of research projects that you can get involved with. This Fall 2013, we’ll be continuing our project on mass atrocity endings, which students can work on as an independent study.
Take a closer look at our website for more details, stay in touch with us, and we hope to meet you as the semester begins in September.
My first visit to Cape Cod was not auspicious. Paul and I were new to the area (and newly married) and we decided to take a long weekend to visit Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape. Off we went to Hyannis, where we hopped on the ferry. A beautiful day on the Vineyard awaited us, so we rented bicycles, checked into our B&B, and headed out for a ride. Half an our later, the skies opened. Two days later, we gave up and ferried back to Hyannis, toting our bags of rain-soaked clothing. It took us nearly ten years to commit ourselves again to more than a day on the Cape or the islands.
Bad weather still exists, of course, but I have come to love Cape Cod. And earlier this month, I had a week of beautiful days in Eastham, gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore We were accompanied by a flotilla of relatives from the UK, all here in search of warmth and sun, which we managed to provide in abundance.
Fletcher students are busy people, but I still encourage a little Cape Cod exploration while you’re here. Reaching the Cape is easy enough by car or public transportation (ferry to Provincetown or train to Hyannis, with an on-Cape network of buses to take you from town to town). As for what to do when you’re there, you can plan a spring/summer/fall weekend and enjoy a beach and a sunset.
There’s something to do on a nice day in any season. Put it on your mental to-do list for when you’re at Fletcher.
Meanwhile, today marks the end of summer, by at least one definition. The Admissions staff is wrapping up the quiet days of completing projects in the absence of students, and we’re getting ready for the arrival of 250 (more or less) new Fletcherites on Monday! Orientation activities will keep them plenty busy for the week while continuing students trickle back into town. With other offices managing Orientation, we’re needed only for relatively few sessions — a break-in week before we really kick the semester into gear.
Depending on your perspective and your work, summer has several different end dates. Though I’ll continue to fit summery activities in before autumn officially begins in September, the start of Orientation is when Fletcher abandons summer and gets back to the business of an international affairs professional school. Time to wrap up my final projects and get ready!
In the second of three posts about the World Peace Foundation, today Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the WPF Research Director and Assistant Research Professor at Fletcher, describes the Foundation’s current work and mission. The first post described WPF’s history, and the final post will appear next Wednesday.
Understanding that the nature of armed conflicts is today different from what originally challenged peace activists over a hundred years ago when the World Peace Foundation was founded, how can a century-old mandate be relevant today?
The first task is to embrace the historical legacy and recognize that the work of peace is precisely that — the hard work of building coalitions, taking chances, and transforming what was accepted as fact into new possibilities. What was once called “peace activism” may have new professional life as security studies, peacebuilding, conflict mediation, development, or peacemaking; but at heart, this work shares a common belief that a collective effort can make the world less violent. And there is evidence that it is working.
Secondly we must ask, how is the work of peace different in our time? Rarely is war today composed of two national armies facing each other across a well-defined battlefield; and peace is rarely understood as achieved with the ink on paper of a signed agreement. In fact, defining when a conflict is ended, or ended enough, is a struggle of enormous political import today. Recognizing that the challenges are different because war itself is different, we must ask, how should we redefine peace for the next hundred years? Do we have the right concepts and tools? Are we asking the right questions?
To rise to this challenge, the WPF seeks to provide intellectual leadership for peace in line with its exceptional characteristics:
- The combination of a century-old history and a commitment to visionary thinking;
- Intellectual independence and flexibility, not constrained by external funding;
- Educational mission as manifest in our presence in The Fletcher School, Tufts University;
- Connectedness to policymakers.
The WPF program rests on three pillars: research, policy and education. Our research program aims to be innovative and provocative, marrying commitment to rigorous, interdisciplinary research with creative questioning in order to spark new conversations about we might understand and respond to the challenges of armed conflict today. Methodologically inductive, all of our programs are founded on analysis into the questions of the nature and causes of violent conflicts and mass atrocities, and how they are ended. We move from evidence and analysis to engagement with policy and theory. Among our projects are: New Wars, New Peace; How Mass Atrocities End; and How Conflicts End.
The WPF’s policy engagement is integrated with its research, in two senses. First, our policy engagement provides materials for innovative research. Second, our policy engagement in turn derives from the research directions of the WPF program. Leveraging the WPF’s unique access to political leaders and institutions, the programs aim to bring the qualities of innovation and creativity to its support of political processes for peace. Our focus is on the world’s most difficult places, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Given Executive Director Alex de Waal’s extensive ties to the African Union and African leaders, working with these key actors will be a strong focus for the WPF. We aim to widen our engagement with African peace processes. Further, the WPF will engage with policies to end mass atrocities, and to increase public advocacy for peace.
An international public intellectual conversation is needed to respond to the challenges of new threats to peace and the requisite new vision of world peace. The WPF education programs are designed to catalyze such a conversation. We aim to influence emerging international leaders through the student body of The Fletcher School, engage other institutions across the world working with graduate students in international affairs and peace studies, and disseminate key ideas to the broader public. The WPF’s educational programs are a long-term investment in the next generation’s leadership. Our educational efforts combine teaching courses within The Fletcher School and supervising students conducting research, expanding to engage with the wider Tufts community, alongside an externally-focused program of public education using lectures, events, the media and publications, and our blog and social media.
Tagged with: World Peace Foundation
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