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Once upon of time, The Fletcher Forum was Fletcher’s premiere print publication — our twice-yearly journal of international affairs.  These days, The Forum is still Fletcher’s premiere print publication, but with a robust online presence.  And just last week, the editors of The Forum contacted me to share this news.

Some of you may already be aware of The Fletcher Forum, the student-managed journal of international affairs published at Fletcher since 1976.  This year’s editorial team has made a major effort to expand The Forum’s digital media offerings, and we’re happy to highlight the release of the first episode of The Fletcher Forum podcast.  You can find it here or (soon) in iTunes.

This short episode features a behind-the-scenes roundtable with some of the managing editors discussing the production of The Forum’s winter edition, which focused on “dueling narratives and the global battle for truth.”  Released in January, the winter issue features analytical articles from expert contributors as well as interviews with guests such as Lord Michael Dobbs, author of House of Cards.  You can read that interview online and hear more about the conversation on the podcast.  Have a listen, and keep an eye out for future episodes.

Why launch a podcast?  These comments from the editorial staff shed light on the question.

Colin Steele, F18, Managing Editor for Digital Affairs:  “Podcasts are a popular medium for many of us and our peers, and the format allows us to tell new kinds of stories in new ways.  Most of all, they’re a lot of fun to produce.”

Maria Selde, F18, Editor-in-Chief: “Digital media has been a big emphasis for us this year, and podcasting has been an important part of that effort.  I’m proud of our team for bringing this new project to life.”

Maria Ory, F19, Producer: “Producing this podcast was a great way for me to build on my previous work experience and support The Forum‘s digital development.  I’m looking forward to continuing this project through the rest of the spring and into next year.”

The Forum invites participation from incoming students each fall.  With print, web-based, and podcast content, there are ample opportunities for students with a range of interests to get involved.

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My request for suggestions last week yielded one that follows neatly on Friday’s post.  A blog reader asked about opportunities to audit or take language courses while at Fletcher.  The reader specifically asked about taking courses in a third language (in addition to the testing language and native language), but my answer about the policy would pertain to anyone, including folks who want to brush up before taking the language exam.

The answer is that YES, students definitely have the opportunity to take or audit classes.  MALD and MIB students can take two language classes for credit, following a simple request process.  A good number of students will go that route, particularly if the language is key to their future career goals.  Language courses can be taken at Tufts (super convenient!) or Harvard (not as convenient, but doable if you’re committed to it).  Tufts currently offers classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Auditing language classes is the route more commonly chosen.  The terms of the audit will be up to the instructor and some will ask for a significant investment of time — definitely something to discuss at the outset.  The advantage of auditing is that you don’t need to use a Fletcher credit for a language class.  While a student who tested in French but still wants to develop Arabic skills would see value in using a course credit to do so, most of our students arrive with language skills and would prefer to focus their course selections on the Fletcher curriculum.

Keep sending me suggestions via the survey and I’ll do my best to answer!

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Every now and then I like to share some Fletcher news that stood out to me but that may not have crossed your inbox.  This is the February/March installment.

Just this past weekend, Miranda Bogen, F16, spoke to the NPR program “On the Media” on why Google shows different maps to different countries.

Professor Monica Toft discussed the establishment of the new Center for Strategic Studies.

Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti wrote about how Facebook could fix itself.

A member of the Armenian Government recommended Professor Jeswald Salacuse‘s 2003 book The Global Negotiator.

Professor Avery Cohn co-authored an article on how climate change will affect agriculture and nutrition.

Also in the environment realm, the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy recently signed an agreement with the Woods Hole Research Center to support Paris Climate Agreement goals.

And, last for today, current first-year MALD student Nicholas Glavin was interviewed by the BBC regarding the capture of British Islamic State militants.


In an annual personal trial, I have collected information on a month’s events, as many as I could track down, knowing that still other opportunities may have passed students’ way.  I did a pretty comprehensive round-up for February 2017 and for March 2016.  Having decided to do the same this year, I recalled that compiling the previous years’ lists was a surprising amount of work, and all month I chided myself for not working on the 2018 edition bit-by-bit.  I ultimately sat down last week to a mess of email notices that finally defeated me.  Rather than abandon the idea, I thought I would narrow the scope to highlight a few features of February’s events.  (You’ll note that it’s already March — clearly I have not achieved my goals on this one.)

Fletcher students often say that there is more going on here than they can possibly take advantage of.  In that regard, let me first point you to one of the busiest lunch hours of the month.  On Monday and Wednesday, there are no classes from 12:30 to 1:30, which can result in a tantalizing array of choices.  For Monday, February 26, these were the options:

The IBGC (International Business in the Global Context) Speaker Series hosted lunch and a talk entitled, “Disruption or Innovation: How Global Banks are Positioning for the Future,” by Mariya Rosberg, F04, partner at Oliver Wyman.

The International Security Studies Program and the Center for Strategic Studies presented a lunch lecture by Major John Spencer, Deputy Director of the Modern War Institute and Co-Director of the Urban Warfare Project, who spoke on, “If warfare has moved into cities, why is the military not preparing?”

The Fletcher Initiative on Religion, Law and Diplomacy and the Fares Center presented lunch and discussion with Dr. Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015).  He spoke on “Bridging the Bonded: Faith, Politics, and Diplomacy in a Polarized Age.”

The Russia and Eurasia Program invited the community to lunch and a roundtable discussion on Russian public diplomacy with another alumnus, Alex Dolinskiy, F09, one of the pioneers in developing the concept of public diplomacy in Russia.

And, finally, the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy hosted lunch and a research discussion with Rich Swanson, who spoke on “Energy for Africa, Prioritizing Investments Under Climate Change.

I suppose that lunch was the reward for making the choice of which event to attend.

The second aspect of the busy month that I’ll highlight is the range of student-organized activities.  Starting on the 8th with a Tech@Fletcher happy hour (“Come to chat intersection of tech and [insert any topic here]… or for the free apps!”) we then returned the following Monday to “Random Acts of Kindness” week.

February must inspire creativity, because on the 14th, the Japan Club organized an Origami Workshop, along with Japanese snacks.

And creative expressions were not limited to crafts.  On the 15th, students presented, “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer; Writings to End Violence Against Women & Girls,” an anthology featuring monologues from several authors and playwrights that explore violence on all levels.

For those who prefer sports to the arts, there were two Fletcher Futbol games, on the 16th and the 25th.

And returning to more traditional offerings, on the 16th, the International Law Society presented a Student Law Panel, featuring Fletcher students.

There were plenty of other student-organized events, but I’ll close out the post by pointing you toward the Fletcher calendar.  Not every event is included, but poke around and you’ll get a sense of the scope of conferences, lectures, club meetings, and luncheons that take place each month.


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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Great news for our students: Fletcher’s team in the CFA Institute Research Challenge emerged as champions in last night’s Boston-region competition!  Presenting their research on the company Boston Scientific, the Fletcher team topped competitors Babson College, Brandeis University, and Hult International in the final round.

The winning team consisted of JP Craven (first-year MIB), Doris Hernandez (second-year MALD), Ashray Dixit (second-year MIB), and our own Admissions Bloggers Mariya and AdiProfessor Patrick Schena was advisor to the team and Office of Career Services Director Elana Givens added her input and attended the competition, as did Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti.

The next round of the challenge will be the North and South Americas regional competition (coincidentally) in Boston on March, with about 50 teams competing.  The winner of the regional competition will go to the global competition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in April.

Congratulations to Professor Schena and the successful team!

From left, team mentor Cameron Hyzer, JP, Professor Schena, Mariya, Doris, and Ashray.

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With a new faculty member and new institutional relationships, Fletcher has just launched a Russia and Eurasia Program, which will be co-directed by Professor Daniel Drezner and Professor Chris Miller.  The program will support the community’s interest in the area through out-of-class activities such as study abroad exchange programs, study trips, conferences, guest speakers, and research and internship funding.  Courses offered jointly with universities in the region, such as MGIMO, will also fall under the new program umbrella.

You can read more on the program’s new website.  For timely updates, check out the program on Twitter.

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Once again it’s time for me to point you toward some news stories that caught my attention in the last month or two.

PhD candidate, Benjamin Spatz, wrote in The New York Times last week from Liberia on the inauguration of the country’s new president, George Weah.

Back in October, Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director of educational programs at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP), and Rishikesh Bhandary, a PhD candidate and junior research fellow at CIERP, co-taught climate diplomacy and negotiation training at the Ethiopian Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change in Addis Ababa.  The five-day training brought together 48 climate negotiators from 33 countries to learn about the negotiation procedures of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to practice negotiation skills in preparation for the 23rd Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC.

Professor Susan Landau talks about her new book and her experience studying the area of cybersecurity.

Senior Associate Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti explains bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to us.

Professor Alex de Waal speaks about his new book on mass starvation as a political weapon.  Professor de Waal is also executive director of the World Peace Foundation.

Fletcher alumna Christina Sass, F09, is cultivating tech talent in Africa.

And finally, you can read more about Fletcher and our community in the most recent issue of Fletcher magazine.  Click here or on the photo above.


Fletcher was closed yesterday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but we’re back today for a shopping spree.  Shopping for classes, that is.  Students have the opportunity to listen to an introduction that may guide their choice of whether to take a class, and with introductions offered all day, a lot of their questions will be answered.  The day is broken into 50-minute blocks.  During each block, professors give two 20-minute presentations, with the remaining ten minutes available for students to move from one introduction to another.  Registration is ongoing this week, and classes begin for real tomorrow.  (Not every class is included in Shopping Day.  Most of the options are new classes, or classes offered on Monday/Tuesday because those didn’t meet this week.)

Shopping Day isn’t the only activity bringing a little buzz to the building.  Last Wednesday, the new Januarians arrived for Orientation.  In three days, they gathered all the information that it takes us a week to present to fall semester enrollees, and in just a few weeks they’ll be indistinguishable from the students who started last August.  Team Admissions joined the fun on Thursday to lead some icebreakers, including a scavenger hunt.  I don’t want to point fingers, but a few of my Admissions pals are a little over-competitive!

We always enjoy a few quiet weeks to get projects done, but by the time students return from winter or summer break, we’re ready for them.  It will be a treat to welcome them back and hear their updates.  Speaking of which, with the spring semester starting, I’d better speed up the sharing of fall semester updates from the Student Stories writers.  I’m going to dedicate more blog space to them this week and next.  I hope you’ll check them out.

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This has been a nice week, but not a productive week for blogging.  One thing or another got in the way of my pulling together some meaningful posts.  And now it’s that happy day in the fall semester when the MALD/MA Admissions Committee will first meet, leaving me no time for a lengthy post today, either.  I have high hopes for next week.

Today’s Admissions Committee meeting will bring the students, professors, and staff reading MALD and MA applications together for the first time.  All the students have read a nice batch of applications, but hearing the perspectives of others will broaden their perspectives.  Same for the faculty members.

In case you’re wondering, the MIB and LLM committees meet separately and, I think, may even have met already this week.

On the very same day when we will take the earliest steps toward admitting the incoming class for September, we’ll be saying farewell to the Januarians who started at Fletcher in January 2016.  Though they still have finals in front of them, a ceremony this afternoon will recognize this tight-knit class.  There are some active members of the community in this group, and we’ll miss them.  Here they are, with the dean.

Now I’m going to grab the coffee we’ll serve to keep everyone perky during the four-hour discussion, and I’ll head over to the meeting.  Committee meetings are an absolute highlight of my work, and I’m looking forward to jumping right in.


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