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Here’s some news from the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, a Fletcher research center.  The center has a new director, Nadim Shehadi, and here’s what we learned about him in the announcement of his appointment:

For the past 30 years, Nadim Shehadi has been involved in directing and organizing research activities, both academic and policy oriented, principally at St. Antony’s College Oxford where he was director of the Center for Lebanese Studies and as an Associate in the Middle East Program at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

He has extensive experience working in the Middle East and North Africa including Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Libya.  He has advised EU governments, European Institutions, and international donors in drafting foreign policy and assistance strategies for the Middle East and North Africa.  He has been a visiting fellow at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC and also at the Fares Center in the spring of 2012.

Shehadi is frequently in the media, has written for publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian, and has a number of publications and edited books.  He speaks French and Arabic and holds a bachelor’s degree in political economy from the University of Kent and a master’s degree in development economics from the University of Leicester.

This is especially good news, in that it follows an extended search.  Sounds like the wait yielded a new director who will bring much policy and academic experience to the Fares Center.

 

Fall semester classes wrap up today.  It already seems quieter in the building than a few days ago.  Tomorrow and Thursday are “reading days,” and exams run from Friday through next Thursday.  But we don’t fool ourselves — students will start peeling away from campus as soon as this weekend, and next week we’ll be seeing a tired-looking skeleton crew of a student community.  That’s not to say that everyone who leaves campus before the final day of final exams has actually submitted all necessary assignments; students have the option of completing research papers or take-home exams from the comfort of their home country, family’s living room, or vacation destination.

This semester has blazed by!  It doesn’t seem like three months have passed since the summer, when the staff was last toiling away in a quiet building.  But students will be back in a month, and they’ve earned their break.  We’ll just need to look forward to their return.

 

This fall’s alumni newsletter is filled with terrific information about the broader Fletcher community, including students, faculty, recent graduates, and alumni from across the decades.  It provides a great picture of the perspectives that Fletcher folk bring to international issues.  I hope you’ll check it out!

 

First-year MIB student, Nathalie (who has also conducted interviews for us — you may have met her!) offered to report on the recent career trip students took to New York City.  Here’s the story:

Traditionally the Fletcher School student body goes on two career trips each year: to New York in January and then to Washington, DC a month later.  These trips are renowned by students for the career opportunities they provide, and are also considered a no-miss event on the Fletcher social calendar.  As the number of students interested in the intersection of the private and public sector grows, a need was identified to organize an additional career trip earlier in the academic year to meet the recruitment deadlines of some of the larger private sector companies.  The International Business Club rose to the challenge and organized the student-run Private Sector NYC Career Trip in November.  As one of the Club’s leadership team members — and coming to Fletcher this year with five years of work experience in the private sector — I wanted to share some of my impressions both of the day itself and the preparations leading up to the day.

We had begun our internship and job search preparation already with our first Professional Development Program (PDP) class during Orientation week.  PDP continued through the first half of fall semester, with Friday mornings dedicated to refining our résumés, elevator pitches, and cover letters.  This all felt very premature to me — I thought “I’ve just left my job.  I’m planning on staying here for two years.  What am I doing this for?!” — but after seeing that deadlines for consulting internships began in the fall, I quickly changed my tune.  The New York Career Trip helped jump-start my internship preparation, and made sure I was 100 percent ready with an up-to-date CV and a great elevator pitch.  The team leaders for each of the company visits were also very helpful, as they ensured participants were prepared for each meeting.  (When trying to make a good impression to a potential employer, there can be such thing as a stupid question.…)

NY tripIn total 81 students made the trip down I-95, visiting between us a total of 21 companies in one day!  The companies ranged from Morgan Stanley to Major League Soccer, from Google to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and from Dalberg to Eurasia.  I personally visited LRN, Monitor Deloitte, and Dalberg.  Two of these sessions were hosted by Fletcher alums who were very helpful in their advice on finding a job in the private sector.  They both recommended taking Corporate Finance at Fletcher, definitely making the many hours I am spending on the coursework now worth it!  The other session was a more formal recruiting session; managers presented their company’s structure and projects, generating a lot of excitement about applying to their firm.  The day was topped off with an Alumni Happy Hour, with NYC-based alums coming to meet and network with us.  And then, as a true Fletcher student who is never one to miss the opportunity to explore, the rest of the weekend was spent with a group of my classmates discovering new parts of New York.

Overall, the trip was a resounding success, with lots of great feedback from students and alumni alike.  Personally, it was a welcome opportunity to get the ball rolling on my internship search and it has motivated me to keep the momentum going, as some of the January deadlines are quickly approaching.  The trip also showed me how students can really take an active role in the community at Fletcher, and are encouraged to do so.  I was able to make direct connections with alumni and other interested employers, something not so typical in larger business programs — another Fletcher bonus to add to the already long list!

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A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the second in a series of event announcements, each of which invited students to come and chat, over coffee, with a professor or fellow student.  Great idea!  So I contacted the organizer, Ameya, for details.  Ameya told me:

The idea for these chats came about from a conversation early last year between some of us who had Prof. Chayes as our faculty adviser.  She has, as you know, a wealth of experience; we were all interested in learning more about her career and interests, but it was hard to do this in ten-to-fifteen minute office hour conversations, plus it was repetitive for Prof. Chayes, as well.  So we set up a combined chat for an hour or so, which all her advisees attended, and it was a tremendously valuable and informative experience.

Based off that, I started setting up similar chats — maybe once a month — with other professors.  At some point, it also became clear there were students and alumni with valuable experience in specific areas, so this year I’ve started alternating between faculty and student/alumni speakers.  I’ve consistently found the sessions both valuable, as well as reassuring, in that everyone has had a roundabout path to where they currently are in their careers.

Sessions last year were with Professors Babbitt, Wilkinson, and Johnstone, and one alumnus.  This semester, we’ve met with two current students and Prof. Moomaw.

I really love this idea, especially the conversations with students, which formalizes the commonly stated opinion that there’s much to be learned from one’s peers here.  Plus, it’s an example of how a student can create a new Fletcher tradition, and I hope that Ameya’s idea will be carried forward even after he has graduated.

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Earlier this year, the Institute for Business in a Global Context took a look back at what it has accomplished in its first three years (and what it currently does) in pursuit of its mission to focus “on the interplay between global business and the key forces that shape the context in which enterprises operate.”  The result was a nice publication!  Take a look!

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This week has really been packed with special events, and today and tomorrow there are two of the week’s highlights.

Today:  Many students with an interest in private sector or finance careers are currently in New York on a career trip sponsored by the International Business Club.  Sites to be visited include the Federal Reserve of New York, Global Impact Investing Network, Control Risks, Eurasia Group, Falconhead Capital, Google, Oliver Wyman, Citi, Blackstone Group, Major League Soccer, Morgan Stanley,  Monitor Deloitte, Scholastic, and others!  Some, but not all, of the meetings will be hosted by Fletcher grads.

Later today and tomorrow:  In another curricular area, Fletcher will be running Simulex, the annual international security exercise that this year will simulate a crisis in the Baltic region.  The ISSP organizers tell us:

In the past, there have been as many as 200 students and visitors in attendance.  Several of the Military War Colleges, The National Defense University, Military Service Academies and universities from around the country are represented.  Students are assigned to country teams that make policy decisions for their respective states and experience how these decisions influence future events.

These are those just a few of those opportunities Diane mentioned in her post earlier this week.

 

Today I want to highlight a series of events that concluded last night, when members of the community were invited to participate in the final of three sessions focused on the Ebola virus and the current outbreak.  The sessions have reflected the depth and breadth of knowledge on the subject that could be drawn together at Tufts University and the Boston community.  In an email, Tufts Provost David Harris noted:

The Ebola crisis epitomizes the inextricable linkages between human, animal, and environmental health, an approach referred to as “One Health,” and will require a multinational and multidisciplinary response.  At Tufts, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to a One Health response and research agenda, given the constellation of schools and departments that span the humanities, social sciences, human and veterinary medicine, and environmental sciences.

The agenda for last night was:

Ebola: Mutations, Markets, and the Military
Wednesday, November 5, 6:30pm |ASEAN
Panelists
:
Dr. Gian Luca Burci, Legal counsel to World Health Organization
Dr. Rachel Glennester, Executive Director of J-Pal, IGC Economist-Sierra Leone
Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Director, Infection Control at NEIDL, Boston University
Benjamin Spatz,  Arms Expert, UN Panel of Experts Liberia, and current Fletcher PhD student
Moderated by Fletcher Academic Dean Ian Johnstone

The prior forums included:

Ebola Outbreak: Causes and Consequences at a Global Scale
Keynote speaker: Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Partners in Health, Chief Medical Officer
Panelists:
Dr. Margaret McMillan, Economics Department, Tufts University
Dr. Elena Naumova, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University
Dr. Rosalind Shaw, Department of Anthropology, Tufts University
Dr. Christopher Whittier, Center for Conservation Medicine, Tufts University

Ethical Considerations of the Ebola Outbreak
Panelists
:
Dr. Richard Glickman-Simon, Physician-ethicist
Dr. Horacio Hojman, Physician-ethicist
Dr. Sheldon Krimsky, Medical ethicist
Dr. Laura Epstein, CDC official
Marcia Boumil, Public health attorney

It’s energizing to be part of a community that can draw together such diverse expertise to shed light on a topic of global importance.

 

Although Fletcher is its own unit of Tufts University, it can also be seen as the graduate program for the University’s International Relations department.  IR is one of the most commonly chosen majors for Tufts undergraduates and, because the major involves a relatively large number of requirements, the undergrad IR folks are pretty serious people.

Despite the occasional (o.k., annual) griping over undergraduates in Ginn Library, Fletcher students are genuinely supportive of their younger peers.  Here are two examples.

Last night, the Ralph Bunche Society (RBS) at Fletcher invited undergrads to learn about their experiences in the IR field.  RBS seeks to shine a light on the contributions that minorities and people of color have made in the field of international relations, and also to encourage students of color to consider educational and career opportunities in international affairs, which means this event was tied directly tied to the RBS mission.  The RBS Facebook page provides some nice descriptions of the presenters, who sought through their comments to pave the way for the undergraduates to follow in their footsteps.

On an ongoing basis, Fletcher students also guide undergraduates via the “Fletcher Mentors” program.  The program matches IR majors with Fletcher students who share similar academic or career objectives, in order to help the undergraduates develop their interests.  They might have one-on-one meetings, or attend group networking events, and there is an online discussion group.

Of course, having a robust undergraduate IR program also opens opportunities for Fletcher students to work as teaching or research assistants, and to attend relevant events sponsored by other units of the University.

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Recently two new (first-year) MALD students, Aditi Patel and Miranda Bogen, contacted me to ask if they might write about their interest in technology fields and their decision to attend Fletcher.  Today I’m sharing their great introduction to the field at Fletcher.  I should note briefly that while Aditi and Miranda are writing about their experience as MALD students, the opportunity to build in technology content is available to all students, especially those in the MIB and PhD programs.

We came to Fletcher because it is one of the leading schools of international affairs — but we also chose Fletcher because of its forward-thinking attitude toward technology, and its willingness to adapt its curriculum and resources to a changing world.

For us, it was critical to find a school that recognized the importance of technology in international affairs; from policy decision making, to crisis mapping, to the facilitation of international business.  It is almost certain that at some point in our careers, we will need the skills and vocabulary to communicate with both engineers and clients to ensure that technology is deployed correctly, regardless of whether these clients are governments, non-profits, or businesses.

Fletcher has ample opportunities for students interested in technology in international affairs.  Having recently created Tech @ Fletcher, the student club of the Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs, we decided to help students uncover those opportunities by gathering together some of the tech-related resources that we’ve discovered in our own application process and in our first few months on campus.

Fletcher’s flexible curriculum is ideal for “Tech MALDs” — students who are interested in focusing on technology.  Students can choose to complete one or both Fields of Study in a related discipline (International Information & Communications is a good place to start), you can focus on a different primary Field of Study with a technology angle by petitioning for tech-related coursework to count for your Fields (or using them as electives), or you can petition to create your own field of study.

Courses that have a significant technology component include International Communication (which includes a heavy dose of internet infrastructure and governance, digital media, and intellectual property), Social Networks in Organizations (this is hard-core social network analysis, not Facebook 101), GIS for International Applications (mapping technology), Foundations of International Cybersecurity, Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity, Financial Inclusion – A Method for Development, and others that are added from semester to semester depending on visiting faculty.

Fletcher students can also cross-register for courses at Harvard Business School like Launching Technology Ventures, Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education, and Strategy and Technology, or take advantage of the proximity to MIT with courses such as Corporate Entrepreneurship: Strategies for Technology-Based New Business Development or Fundamentals of Digital Business Strategy.

At Fletcher, we’re lucky to have the Hitachi Center for Technology in International Affairs, which acts as a hub for tech-related events and resources.  The center is very responsive to student involvement and will happily support student-proposed events that have something to do with technology.  The Hitachi Center hosts lectures, film screenings and even brought Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen to discuss “The New Digital Age” last spring.  The Hitachi Center also offers summer funding for students and faculty researching topics related to technology, which is a great resource for students looking to write their capstone on a topic in the field.

We were overwhelmed by the support we received from our professors and the administration to think about technology in the field of international affairs.  Professor Carolyn Gideon, who teaches International Communications and manages the Hitachi Center, focuses on information and telecommunications policy; Professor Jenny Aker is the deputy director of the Hitachi Center and studies the impact of information/information technology on development outcomes; and Dean Stavridis even moderated a panel of Fletcher alumni at the South by Southwest conference on “Foreign Policy in the Digital Age.”

All of our fellow students we’ve met have slightly different interests (technology and governance, cybersecurity, ICT4D) and we are excited to be bringing these quickly-evolving issues into the wider Fletcher community.  Over the rest of the year, we plan to use Tech @ Fletcher as a platform to create a curriculum guide for students hoping to create their own field or simply to build a solid foundation in tech as a part of other fields, work with the Office of Career Services to create more resources for students interested in a career involving technology, provide workshops and discussions on the tools we will need to manage technology-related issues in our future jobs, and communicate with our classmates and professors about the importance of technology, no matter what their main fields of study.

We both came to graduate school because we were convinced that we needed to better understand the implications of technology in our areas of study.  With all the support and encouragement we have received from Fletcher, we know we made a great choice in picking a school that meets these needs!

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