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Following their return from the Arctic Circle Assembly last month, the Fletcher Maritime Program encouraged students to share their observations in a blog post, and then asked me whether I would be interested in including the posts in the Admissions Blog.  Of course I would!  I’m not sure how many I’ll receive, but today Ana Nichols Orians, a first-year MALD student, writes of her experience in Iceland.

“South Pole at Top of Earth” by Joaquin Torres García.

When I was in college, Latin American writer and activist Eduardo Galeano’s salient prose guided much of my thinking.  One message stood out: we must question the traditional narratives reinforcing colonial dynamics in global politics.  In his book, Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking Glass World, Galeano presents Joaquín Torres García’s map of an upside down Latin America.  From this viewpoint, the global south is emphasized by its proximity to the sun and the moon.

Prior to the Arctic Circle Assembly, Joaquin Garcia’s map was the closest I had ever gotten to thinking about the poles.  I remain dedicated to the idea of focusing on Latin America, especially in terms of reaching my professional goals of being a negotiator on topics pertaining to food, climate, and sustainability.  Attending the Arctic Circle Assembly might not seem like the most logical step towards professional realization.  Yet attending offered the possibility of discovering a more dynamic view of the Arctic while simultaneously learning from diverse actors considering global consequences of climate change and negotiating on policies for global cooperation.  And so, I went to Reykjavik, Iceland, to attend the conference with my internal global map reversed, as per Galeano’s guidance.

The Arctic Circle Assembly attracts some of the most important actors across the globe.  Within the first few hours in Iceland, I witnessed plenary discussions with Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Peter Seligmann, Chairman of the Board of Conservation International, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and H. E. Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands, and I even introduced myself to and shook hands with H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, chairman of the Arctic Circle and former president of Iceland.  Over three days, religious leaders, scientists, artists, and policy makers led attendees through discussions about their priorities and opened the floor for creative responses.  It was exhilarating and, at times, intimidating.  Luckily, my role as moderator for the Arctic Innovation Lab gave me purpose.

Working with Ryan Uljua, second-year MALD candidate, on his pitch, “An Arctic Investment Index,” afforded me the opportunity to dive deeper into the idea of the Arctic as a new economic frontier.  Ryan presented a new type of investment index designed for the small-scale investor.  The roundtable conversation after his presentation incorporated the voices of students, bankers, and artists, and brought to light the importance of finding balance through corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  Vanessa DiDomenico, another first-year MALD student, pitched the idea “Navigating Vessels Through Compliance” at the lab and discussed the importance of determining safe operations with risk mitigation strategies for the emerging sea-lanes in the Arctic.  The lab provided valuable insight into a “young” perspective of how to manage the region in a sustainable and socially equitable way.

Inherent in the discussions at the Assembly was the question: whose interests will be at the table if the ice melts?  The Arctic narrative I was accustomed to proved limited.  Once again, it was a map that made my preconceived notions evident.  Looking at the map of the Arctic Ocean, one can see how the melting ice accentuates the role of the northern coastlines and the potential for additional sea-lanes, fundamentally changing the scale of global power relations.  Not all stakeholders value the Arctic for the same reason, or for that matter, have the same desired outcome for the region.  Depending on whom you ask, the Arctic provides grossly different services: biodiversity, opportunities for economic investment, pristine environments and glaciers, potential shipping routes, untapped energy, political power, and more.  As with the opening of any frontier, many actors are ready to exploit these resources for their own agenda.

A sustainable future may be a larger conversation than a single map can represent, but it is one that the Arctic Circle Assembly has been developing since its first meeting in 2013.  The future of the Arctic is a global issue and those with the closest proximity and with the most money should not be the sole decision makers.  Understanding the nuances of the political power and the diversity of interest regarding climate change will be fundamental to defining a strategic and sustainable approach to the Arctic.

 

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You may already have heard that Michael Dobbs, probably best known to blog readers as the author of House of Cards — but also a politician, political commentator, and the holder of three Fletcher degrees (including the PhD, F73, F75, F77) — is in residence at Fletcher this month as Visiting Professor of Contemporary Politics.

While here, Lord Dobbs has already given a book talk, met students and faculty for coffee, and participated in a lunchtime discussion, and he is leading a three-session workshop on political leadership.  (You can read more about the residency at The Boston Globe.)  But the event most relevant for those who are not on campus will take place today (Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)).  This afternoon you can tune in (via the Fletcher Facebook page) for a “Fletcher Reads the Newspaper” discussion/debate on “Nationalism vs. Globalism: Will Brexit be the Ultimate Litmus Test?” with Lord Dobbs and Professor Amar Bhide sharing their opinions on the topic, moderated by Senior Associate Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti.

Please join us and watch the debate sparks fly!

 

Easily missed among all the full-semester classes at Fletcher are a select group of half-semester modules.  The second half of the fall semester started last week, and students were offered the chance to register for modules that will run from now through the last day of classes.  This short list of five classes brings into clear focus the breadth of the Fletcher curriculum.  From Transitional Justice to Emerging Pathogens, a multidisciplinary approach to international affairs means there will be students for whom each class is the perfect addition to their personal curricula.

Here are the late-semester offerings:

Adapative Leadership and Managerial Communication, Professor Mihir Mankad
Adaptive Leadership and Managerial Communication is a new module course that is intended to sharpen your skills around practical, impactful, and often challenging verbal communication across a range of adaptive leadership and managerial scenarios.  Through your experiences, you will further develop your public speaking and presentation skills, and better understand the concept of adaptive leadership and its communication.  You will also get exposure to both personal and organizational communication case scenarios, including crisis communication.  As with Arts of Communication, this module course should also further your journey to becoming a more persuasive, motivating and effective public speaker and media communicator.

Transitional Justice, Professor Cecile Aptel
This seminar considers the range of processes and mechanisms available to ensure accountability for large-scale human rights violations and achieve reconciliation, including criminal justice, truth and reconciliation commissions, and mechanisms, which incorporate local custom, such as gacaca in Rwanda.  It reviews some of the philosophical, moral and political considerations pertaining to the challenge of reconciliation in these contexts.  This course is taught remotely by the professor.

International Arbitration, Professor Jeswald Salacuse   
This half-credit module explores the nature and application of international arbitration as a method of dispute resolution in international economic and political relations.  A widely used but not generally well-known process, international arbitration is basically a method of dispute settlement that involves the referral of the dispute to an impartial tribunal or panel for a binding decision according to agreed-upon norms, often on the basis of international law. It is applicable to three general types of disputes: 1) disputes between states (interstate arbitration); 2) disputes between states and private parties (e.g. investor-state arbitration); and 3) disputes arising out of international business transactions either between private parties or between private parties and governmental entities (e.g. international commercial arbitration).  This module will examine all three types of international arbitration and will consider their legal basis, their methods of operation, and their potential advantages and disadvantages both for the disputants and the wider international community.  A student’s final evaluation in the course will be based on a paper of not more than 3000 words (65%) and participation in class sessions (35%).  The course is relevant to the academic interests of LLM students, because of its legal component, MIB students, because of arbitration’s key role in the settlement of international business disputes, and MALD students with interests in international conflict resolution.  The course is listed in the fields of Public International Law and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and has no required prerequisites.

Political Economy of the Global Arms Trade, Professor Sam Perlo-Freeman   
The arms industry and trade sits at the intersection of global economics, security, and politics. Access to armaments, whether domestically produced or imported, is necessary for states and armed groups to develop military capability; thus the arms industry and trade is a key instrument of state policy and international relations.  At the same time, the arms industry is an economic enterprise, in most countries a private, profit-seeking one. It depends on general national economic, industrial and technological development, and is often seen—debatably—as an important source of industrialization, jobs, and trade.  But military spending, including arms acquisition, carries an opportunity cost, and how states choose to allocate limited resources between civilian and military priorities is the outcome of numerous economic, political and security factors.

Health, Human Security and Emerging Pathogens, Professor Nahid Bhadelia   
With increasing globalization of trade, travel and terrorism, public and individual human health have become topics of global concern, involving sovereign nations, international organizations and the scientific community.  Threats from emerging infectious diseases outbreaks exemplify this trend.  In contrast to the traditional idea of national security, the field of human security focuses on the individual, rather than state, as the nexus of analysis and takes a multidisciplinary approach through which to analyze the challenges related to community, national and global response to emerging infectious diseases epidemics. This course will start by examining human security literature and practice as it applies to infectious diseases threats.  It will examine factors leading to increasing frequency of outbreaks due to novel pathogens, such as climate change and environmental degradation, and the concept of One Health.  It will then look at the intersection between scientific research and related ethical issues, disease surveillance and global biosecurity issues.  Further, the course will examine the historical basis for International Health Regulations and other frameworks for modern global health governance as they apply to outbreaks.  Lastly, the class will utilize case studies to examine how outbreak preparedness and response have been managed during recent epidemics such as SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola and Zika.  This course is meant to foster interdisciplinary perspectives by bringing together practitioners from international law, human development, public health and clinical care.

 

Some eagle-eyed Jeopardy fans in the Fletcher community spotted this question as they watched the show recently.  The answer (in the form of a question), of course, is “What is Tufts University?”

 
I was walking outside the building at about 4:00 yesterday and saw a cluster of students huddled around suitcases.  They were in the first stages of their trip to Iceland for this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly, the world’s largest gathering of Arctic-oriented policy makers, business people, and other stakeholders.  The Fletcher contingent, including students, faculty, alumni, and staff members, is organized by Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program, in collaboration with Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, Science Diplomacy CenterInternational Security Studies Program, LLM Program, Institute for Human Security, and Institute for Business in the Global Context, as well as Pan-Arctic Options and the Institute for Global Maritime Studies.  Having so many different organizations on board means that students were able to have their participation subsidized with a travel stipend, in hopes (expectation!) that Fletcher would (for the third year in a row) bring the largest non-Icelandic academic delegation to the Arctic Circle Assembly.

A key link between Fletcher and the Arctic Circle Assembly is Fletcher alumna Halla Hrund Logadóttir, F11, who is organizing the Arctic Innovation Lab component of the Assembly.  According to the Fletcher trip organizers, the Arctic Innovation Lab is a platform to bring young and entrepreneurial thinkers into the Arctic debate to help solve its myriad social, economic, and political challenges.  Each participant gets two minutes to pitch an idea, which can be related to anything, but the focus is on sustainable solutions, and then students participate in round-table discussions with experts on their idea.  The top three ideas will be selected as winners by the event organizers.I always feel an ongoing connection to students whom I meet before they apply.  Way back in (probably) 2008, I interviewed Halla before she applied to Fletcher.  It’s very satisfying for me to see the relationship she has built with current students and staff.And Fletcher’s connection to the Arctic won’t end with the Arctic Circle Assembly.  In February, students will organize the seventh annual Fletcher Arctic Conference.

Here is a short video that shows images from last year’s Arctic Circle Assembly and Arctic Innovation Lab and an article on the ideas presented at the Arctic Innovation Lab.  Of course I don’t yet have photos from this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly, but you can follow along on Twitter as Fletcher participants post their observations and the organizers tweet about each day’s panels and events.

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Today is a University holiday, but we’ll be back in the office tomorrow to answer any last-minute questions before the October 15 deadline.

Meanwhile, folks in the local area will want to know that Fletcher will be well represented at HUBweek, a festival of art, science, technology, and big thinking in Boston and surrounding towns.   There are so many great discussions on the agenda that it’s hard to know what to choose.  Start with the Fletcher-connected events and you can’t go wrong!

 

At the Idealist fair on Monday, I had a nice long chat with a prospective student who is in the process of starting a business.  I was glad to be able to tell him how much great stuff is happening here in the entrepreneurial orbit.  Or, as the folks from the Institute for Business in the Global Context put it in a recent message:

Grad school is one of the safest spaces to test out your entrepreneurial skills in highly supportive and nurturing environment.  The Fletcher/Tufts ecosystem is filled with unique opportunities to stretch and learn, especially when it comes to venturing in the emerging markets and having social impact.

Some of the opportunities here for students are:

There are coaching opportunities available in the lead-up to the competitions.  And entrepreneurs aren’t limited to creating ventures!  They like to hang out, too, which they did last week at a “Venturing Social Evening” at a local café.

For more information about all the options for Fletcher entrepreneurs, follow the news on the IBGC Entrepreneurship page.

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Fletcher has launched a new research hub this year — the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS).  We’ve only just begun the fourth week of the semester, but CSS is already making news.  First, there was an announcement of Postdoctoral Fellows and a visiting professorship, in addition to previously named PhD research fellows.  (All the team bios can be found here.)  And these folks will be joining Professor Monica Toft, who developed the center at Fletcher.

Last week, Professor Toft jump-started Center-based discussion with a talk at the CSS Open House.  And today, we received information on the CSS Capstone Incubator Project.

With so much happening already, I’m sure I’ll have more to share about the Center for Strategic Studies as the year goes on.  For now, I’ll leave you with this conversation between Dean Stavridis and Professor Toft.

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It’s just before 10:00 as I write and I can say that our evaluative interview program is now in full swing.  All that was required was four members of the Admissions team huddled around the front desk to remind ourselves of the parts of the process that are hard to recall until they’re actually needed.  But I think we’ve got it now — high fives all around.  And the day’s first interview seems to have gone swimmingly.  Interviewer and interviewee emerged smiling.

I’ve already written a few posts to encourage all you applicants out there to schedule an interview.  We’re nearly fully booked this week, but there are plenty of appointments available for the coming weeks.  Whether you prefer to visit us on campus or participate in a Skype interview, sign up now to grab a convenient day and time.  (And if you visit campus for your interview, you can build an information session, class visit, or coffee with a student into your day.)

This afternoon, I’ll be zipping over to Boston University for an Idealist Graduate School Fair.  If you’re there, be sure to say hello.

With interviews and the fair this afternoon occupying my time, I don’t have much brain power left for blog creativity.  I’ll leave it to a professor/PhD-candidate duo to share their creative ideas with you.  The screen below will take you to an online discussion of their research.

 

I struggle every year to capture much of what’s going on at Fletcher.  My primary mission is to focus on admissions updates, and there are other sources for Fletcher in the news, but realistically, how much time can any of us spend chasing down current information?  So I try to give blog readers a sense of what’s happening with occasional updates.

In that context, I was happy to find the 2016-2017 annual report from the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in my inbox.  In addition to the basics, the annual report provides a great snapshot of an active center and opportunities for students.  From conducting research to attending international climate talks, students from all degree programs who focus on environment issues have great options to broaden their learning, and gain skills and experience that goes beyond the classroom.

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