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Most Fletcher students have multiple academic objectives in mind when they enroll.  At the same time as they’re looking to expand their general understanding of the international affairs world, they also want to build specific skills that will help them in their career.  Beyond the usual in-class opportunities (public speaking, accounting, etc.), there are often out-of-class opportunities to focus on a key area that will support future work.  This morning, Ginn Library sent information about workshops offered cooperatively by Ginn along with the University’s Tisch Library and Data Lab.  Each workshop meets once for about 90 minutes.  Here’s what’s on offer this fall.

Collecting geospatial data using GPS handheld units: GPS is changing the way users collect and manage geographic data.  You will learn how to record locations and other survey variables in the field using GPS handheld units.  This field data can then be used for spatial analysis and visualization in ArcGIS and other open source applications, such as google earth and QGIS.

Collecting geospatial data using Survey 123 (phone app):  You will learn how to record locations and other survey variables in the field using Survey 123 (phone app).  This field data can then be used for spatial analysis and visualization in ArcGIS and other open source applications, such as google earth and QGIS.

An Introduction to Quantum GIS (QGIS): QGIS is a free, open-source software that allows you to create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial information on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.  More and more NGOs and international organizations are utilizing QGIS for their mapping and data visualization needs.  This workshop is ideal for students who have introductory knowledge of ArcGIS.  During this workshop, you will learn the basics of QGIS, including topics such as projections, selections,  layer styling, and map composition.

Mapping Open Data with R: Know the basics of R already?  Add a few lines of code to create beautiful, visually engaging maps for your next project.  This workshop will walk you through the basics of loading and manipulating open statistical and geospatial data in RStudio to create high-quality maps.  You will create choropleth maps of USA and Massachusetts using American Community Survey (ACS) data, world development indicators from the World Bank, and maps of point density and elevation.  Familiarity with data frames, installation of R packages, and geospatial data (shapefiles, rasters, projections) highly recommended.

These sessions are completely optional, but open to anyone who sees a future use for these skills.

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It’s the second week of classes (the first full week, since last week included a holiday and shopping day), and the calendar of out-of-class events already looks like this:

September 12 calendar

How does that happen?  The community goes from zero to 60 in no time flat.  Our inboxes are suddenly flooded with notices of special events, campus jobs, and administrative announcements.  But now’s also the time when students have a few extra moments to attend a special event, and those events play an important role in building the community.  It’s a challenge to stay on top of everything that’s happening, but it’s a worthy one.

(A simplified calendar of events that may be open to the public can be found on the Fletcher website.)

 

The launch of a new degree program is a big deal at Fletcher!  After a couple of years of planning, Dean Stavridis recently signed an agreement with the College of Europe in Belgium to launch the Master in Transatlantic Affairs (MTA).  Though similar to a dual degree, in that two schools are involved, the MTA is a unified program that requires study at the two institutions and an internship to earn the degree.  The first MTA students are expected in September 2017.  If you might be interested in the program, please contact us!

You can read Fletcher’s report on the program’s establishment, or check out the details from College of Europe.  Meanwhile, here’s the signing ceremony:

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I tend to let National Public Radio keep me company in the morning, with the result that a member of the Fletcher community frequently joins me while I eat breakfast or commute to work.  This week, my cup of tea was accompanied by the voices of two graduates.

Yesterday I was visited by Vali Nasr, F84 — a double Jumbo (alumnus of Tufts undergraduate and Fletcher) who happens now to be the dean at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, having previously taught at Fletcher — talking about Saudi Arabia, Iran, and this year’s hajj.

And then today, it was R.D. Sahl, F95, a graduate of the one-year MA program, who will be delivering reports for a new app that makes it easy to follow politics, in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Whether it’s an alum, a professor, or Dean Stavridis, hearing their stories and analysis over the radio is a welcome reminder that I’m part of a terrifically interesting and knowledgeable community.

 

When I was walking from my bus to Fletcher this morning, I was struck by how lovely the campus looks.  We’ve had a hot and dry summer, but this morning was cool and clear — a taste of what September and the fall will bring.

Though the weather and Orientation have us looking toward the fall semester, today I’m going to look back at some of the summer’s news that you may or may not have seen in other Fletcher sources.

I’ll start with something you won’t have read, but it’s pretty cool.  Tufts will have an observer team at the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco in November, and students were invited to apply to participate.  The team at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy will submit the nominations for official observer status.

And speaking of CIERP, the crew there is always busy in the summer.  Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director for educational programs at CIERP, spent part of her summer with an international group of sustainability professionals at an executive education course organized by the Sustainability Challenge Foundation in the Netherlands.  She co-led the faculty of the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability, which focused on negotiation and consensus building.

Not new CIERP news, but a new wrap up — check out this Tufts Now story on the Paris Climate Conference.

Continuing with the staff/faculty theme, Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church told us about a new blog on corruption in fragile states that, she wrote, touches on many areas of interest to the Fletcher community, including “power analysis, systems thinking, aid ineffectiveness, good governance, fragile states etc.”  She also explained that many of the posts are derived from work that Professor Diana Chigas and she are doing, “looking at the intersection of corruption, justice and legitimacy.”

In news from the Institute for Business in the Global Context, Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti, PhD student Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, and MALD/PhD graduate Ben Mazzotta, have posed the question, “What countries would benefit most from a cashless world?”  Their answer, which builds on the work of their Digital Evolution Index and the Cost of Cash research, can be found in their Harvard Business Review article that evaluates “the absolute costs of using cash around the globe to find what countries could unlock the most value by moving to a cashless society.”

And now some summer news about alumni.

Christina Sass, F09, is one of four co-founders of the two-year-old startup company, Andela, which is now backed by both Google and the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation.  So many of our students and alumni work with small organizations, and it’s exciting to see one receive so much love!

Since graduating, Patrick Kabanda, F13, has been busy writing on cultural development for the World Bank, including “Creative Natives in the Digital Age”, “Music for Development in the Digital Age”, “The Arts, Africa and Economic Development: The problem of Intellectual Property Rights,” “Mozart seduces the World Bank and the IMF” (a blog post), and just recently, for the Inter-American Development Bank, “‘The World Sends Us Garbage, We Send Back Music’: Lessons from the Recycled Orchestra in Paraguay.”

And finally, Fletcher has developed a series of video answers to the question, “Why Fletcher?”  This summer, Elise Crane, F11, offered her perspective.

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And just like that, the quiet of summer is a thing of the past and the Hall of Flags is filled with students, newly arrived for Orientation.  They’ve picked up their ID cards, been welcomed by Tufts University’s president and several Fletcher deans, and are currently relaxing over lunch.  We hope the break will fortify them in advance of the afternoon’s briefings on myriad essential topics.

Orientation isn’t all critical-fact gathering — most evenings include a social event.  But it’s a busy week that should leave the newest members of our community with a suitcase of essential background information, along with familiarity with the campus and a bunch of new friends.

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LivesLimboTufts University undergraduates are encouraged to participate in a Common Reading program, which this year features the book Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America, by Roberto G. Gonzales.  Fletcher students are invited to participate, too.  Maybe you’d like to read the book, or maybe you have already read it.  Either way, watch the program page for notices on related activities.  The author will be speaking on campus in October, and the topic of his talk and of the book is relevant to many Fletcher students’ interests.

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In the first phase of returning to the student-filled place that Fletcher usually is, the students taking pre-session classes start their 2016-17 studies today!  Two classes are offered: Strategic Management (required for MIB students, open to all others) and Design and Monitoring of Peacebuilding and Development Programming, which is the first in a three-course Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation series.

Pre-session students are busy.  We won’t find them hanging out much in the Hall of Flags.  But welcoming them is a significant step toward the fall semester.

 

World Elephant DayI’m informed by Ginn Library’s Ellen McDonald that today is World Elephant Day and Tufts is joining the fight to stop poaching and ivory trafficking.  A new initiative, Jumbos for Jumbos, seeks “to achieve tangible outcomes that will advance elephant conservation, as well as educate the university and community at large.”  Ellen also wrote about the challenges faced by elephants for the Fletcher Forum.

With the resources of our veterinary college and with an elephant (Jumbo, of course) as the university mascot, supporting the conservation of elephants is a natural cause for Tufts University.

 

 

The Tufts Digital Library each year collects and catalogues Fletcher students’ capstone projects, which can then be found from the research section of the Fletcher web site.  Each year I see the call for capstones, but fail to note when they are available online.  So with considerable delay, let me point you toward the capstones for the class of 2015 and earlier.  With topics ranging from South-South Technology Cooperation to Terrorism and Freedom of Expression: An Econometric Analysis, the titles provide a nice picture of the scope of interests among Fletcher students.

I’ll try to link to the most recent capstones as soon as they’re available later this fall.

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