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CIERP logo_webBlueFletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) just celebrated a birthday — its 20th!  To mark this milestone in the history of environment study at the School, CIERP compiled a list of some of the highlights of its work, which I’m featuring today.  Also of note:  The Center has a new director.  Prof. Kelly Sims Gallagher, a Fletcher alum and current member of the faculty, will lead CIERP as it enters its second 20 years.


CIERP by the Numbers

  • CIERP faculty members have published research results in more than 70 refereed journal articles, six books, 62 book chapters, and 70 research reports, conference papers, and other articles.
  • Since its inception, CIERP has raised more than $4.6 million in grant funding.
  • In 2012, five of Fletcher’s 17 graduating PhDs were IERP students.
  • Since 2002, CIERP has funded more than 65 external summer internships and provided $500,000 in tuition and living stipend support to IERP students.
  • Since 1992, CIERP has hired more than 300 research assistants and 60 teaching assistants.
  • Since 2009, CIERP has hosted four pre-doctoral fellows and eight post-doctoral research scholars — the first ever post-doctoral research fellows at Fletcher.
  • Since 2009, CIERP professors have tallied more than 90 media appearances, including interviews and numerous quotations in sources such as Bloomberg, WGBH, USA Today, PRI “The World,” and The Boston Globe, among others.
  • In the last year, CIERP has hosted 32 workshops, seminars and conferences on campus.

CIERP Highlights

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My little survey from a few weeks back yielded some very specific questions from incoming students.  While I work on the answers, Roxanne is here to give you a big-picture view of what you should be doing and thinking about in the summer before you start your graduate studies.  

I am writing these words at 1369 Coffee House, which was one of my favorite spaces when I was a college student in Boston.  One of the indulgences of the early days of summer lies in exactly this moment: savoring a drink at a coffee shop, reading for pleasure, and watching the to-do lists temporarily shrink to include only leisurely items.

Therein lies my first piece of advice for the summer before you enroll at Fletcher: Embrace leisure.  Allow your mind to rest for a while, and engage in the activities that make you happy.  If it is possible, build in a few weeks of relaxation between the time your work commitments end and the time Fletcher obligations kick in.  Arriving at Fletcher with a rested mind can make all the difference.  While I am soon leaving for my summer work and research, the past two weeks have been full of picnics, tandem bike rides, a trip to Walden Pond, and other favorite Boston-area activities.

Use the summer to reflect on the experience you want to have at Fletcher: What do you wish to learn that you had not previously explored?  Which types of skills do you want to build?  Are there particular professors whom you would like to get to know?  What other opportunities in the Boston area appeal to you?  The answers to these questions shift constantly for most of us at Fletcher, and we welcome the evolution of our interests, but arriving here with a sense of goals and learning objectives — however vague and ever-changing — can be helpful in making the most of the experience.  The summer is also a good time to talk to past mentors, whether professional or academic ones, and to solicit their advice about how to make the most of your upcoming graduate school experience.

If you are planning on taking the language exams early in the semester, or the economics and quantitative reasoning placement tests, it may be helpful to brush up on some of those skills — but do not let the process stress you.  When I look back on my own summer before Fletcher, I wish I had worried less.  Yes, it is important to fill out the paperwork Fletcher requires in a timely manner, to set up your email accounts, and to prepare logistically for the semester.  Completing these steps will make your arrival here far less stressful, and it will enable you to delve into the community smoothly in August.  At the same time, the Fletcher staff is incredibly supportive, these processes are fairly easy, and they need not intimidate or worry you.

Some of you will go through the new course catalog as soon as it becomes available to make a list of courses you would like to take; yet others will arrive in Medford without ever having looked at the course catalog.  Let me reassure you that most of us change our minds about our preferred course choices multiple times before the semester begins, so do not feel pressure to make rigid choices.  If you are inspired by browsing the offerings, by all means, go ahead!  If, on the other hand, you’d rather wait until you get here and can solicit the opinions of your classmates or attend the so-called “Shopping Day” to watch the professors in action, know that many Fletcher students will be joining you.

Finally, I’d like to make some room for the pieces of pre-Fletcher advice that do not fit in the above categories, but reflect how I wish I had spent the summer before Fletcher:

  • Read for pleasure. This is what a now-graduated member of the Class of 2013 had advised me, and it was the best piece of advice I received.  It was a treat to spend the summer steeped in the literature of my choice without the pressure to highlight or take notes.
  • Make some time to say goodbye to the place you have called home.  Some of you will be leaving a place far away from your birthplace, while others will be leaving your homeland.  Transitions are easier once you have carved out room for goodbyes and nostalgia.
  • Relatedly, carve out some time to make Boston a home when you arrive.  If you arrive a couple of days before Orientation, take the time to explore your new neighborhood or take the subway to Boston.  Give yourself some time to discover what may soon be your new favorite restaurant or café, develop a new running or cycling route, a new morning routine.  You will be part of this community before you know it, and there are many of us eagerly waiting to welcome you to the Fletcher family!  Until then, have a wonderful summer!
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Before I let too much time slip by, I want to bring readers’ attention to two new editions of student-run publications.

First, the editors of Al Nakhlah, Fletcher’s online journal focused on Southwest Asia, introduced its 2013 edition.  The announcement noted, “This year’s articles range from an op-ed on contemporary women’s rights in Egypt to the geopolitical significance of religious fundamentalism in Central Asia to the legal implications of drone warfare in Pakistan.”  Articles include:

Equal Rights in Egypt: An Unlikely Opportunity,” by Faiqa Mahmood
Lost in the Labyrinth: The Green Revolution and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” by Joel Hernandez
Strange Bedfellows: Religious Fundamentalism and the Death Penalty in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” by Julia Brooks
Mandate Iraq: Imagining a Nation,” by Natalie Bowlus
The ‘Unmanned’ Conflict in Pakistan,” by Neha Ansari
Legitimate Threat or Excuse for Repression? The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Central Asian Stability Post-2014,” by Lesley Pories
Terrorism in Iran: An Analysis of Non-State Militant Organizations in the Islamic Republic,” by Micah Peckarsky
Navigating U.S.-Egyptian Relations in the Post-Mubarak Era: Strategies for Preserving American Interests,” by Micah Peckarsky

And, if that isn’t enough reading for you, the new editorial team at The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs announced the online launch of this year’s summer edition, noting “Inside you will find insights on former U.S.-Tehran relations from Bruce Reidel, veteran CIA officer and White House advisor, theories on Syrian political strategy from David Wallsh, observations on women’s education in Saudi Arabia from Marcia Grant, a discussion on the challenges faced by South Sudan by Jok Maduk Jok, and many others.  This issue also touches on important transnational concerns.  We explore these issues through an interview with David Killion, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, an article by Raymond Taras on the role of literature in international relations, and a discussion on the controversies surrounding the popularization of development aid, from Erik Shreiner Evans of the fake aid campaign ‘Africa for Norway.’”

To view the complete list of articles and abstracts, visit the Forum website, where you can also find PDF versions of the articles.

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Who are those name-tagged people? I wondered when I walked through the Hall of Flags yesterday.  A quick check to the schedule reminded me that they are participants in the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, which will run through this week.  Organized jointly by Fletcher and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, this is the 8th weeklong seminar held here.

The program’s new website offers links to information and presentations from the 2012 , 2011, and 2010 seminars, as well as (at the bottom of the page) to video statements from past participants about their work.  (Super interesting!)

Stay on top of this year’s seminar by following the Twitter feed, or the program blog, or by checking out the details and videos on the ICNC Facebook page.  It’s hard to imagine a more timely seminar, given the backdrop throughout the world in 2013. In fact, the more I read while pulling together this post, the more excited I am that this group is meeting at Fletcher this week.


Tents remain in place around campus, but Fletcher and the rest of Tufts have the yearly post-Commencement underpopulated look.  By all accounts, Sunday’s ceremony was lovely, and the weather kindly cooperated — sunny all morning, but not too hot.  The main Tufts website has photos and a short video to give you a sense of how everything looked.

Commencement, Fletcher grads

Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend Sunday’s ceremony (more on that later this week), but I was at Saturday’s Class Day event where a wonderful alumni address was given by Paulo Bilyk F’92.  Awards were then distributed, following which we heard from Dean Bosworth, who shared tales from his long career as a diplomat.  Dean Bosworth was also honored on Sunday, when he was named Dean Emeritus of the School.  Earlier in the day, Fletcher students cheered him when he conferred their degrees at the All-University phase of Commencement.

Commencement, Dean Bosworth

I ran into a few students this morning, but I think it’s fair to say that they have mostly moved on.  When the tents come down this week, even Commencement, never mind the spring semester, will seem like a distant memory.  Good luck and best wishes, Class of 2013!

(Thank you to University photographers, Kevin Ma and Emily Zilm, whose photos I borrowed.)

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For Fletcher students, the graduation ceremony is merely the (almost) final event in a weekend of togetherness.  With the soon-to-be graduates only barely recovered from dawn to post-dusk Dis-Orientation activities, Commencement weekend kicks off on Friday (i.e. tomorrow) with breakfast and a graduation rehearsal at 8:00 a.m.  The afternoon is unprogrammed (time to take visiting family around town for some sightseeing), but many will meet up again at 6:00 p.m. for a New England clambake, which is also the kick-off event for the Fletcher alumni reunion that runs in parallel this weekend.

CommencementFletcher decided years ago to keep the focus on students during Sunday’s graduation ceremony, and a Class Day event was created on the Saturday of Commencement weekend for speeches, presentation of prizes, etc.  The speaker for this year’s Class Day program will be our own Dean Stephen Bosworth, who is stepping down after more than a decade as dean.  I’m sure it will be a bittersweet moment.  Lunch will follow.

And then, finally, Sunday arrives.  Students will kick off the day with a champagne breakfast, featuring toasts by the students selected by a vote of their peers.  Champagne imbibed, students head off to the all-University ceremony (where Fletcher students are well known for their extra loud cheers when their degrees are awarded as a group), followed by the Fletcher ceremony, where each graduating student is handed a diploma by the dean (photos will be taken — smile!).  Speeches will be delivered by peer-selected students and the recipient of the Paddock Prize for excellence in teaching, which went this year to Carolyn Gideon.

When the ceremony concludes, everyone works their way over to lunch via many hugs and well-wishes.  All in all, a lovely event.

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As much as I love to see students at Fletcher — hanging out in the Hall of Flags, sitting in the library, wandering into a classroom — there’s also something nice about seeing them outside their usual habitat. That would be one reason I enjoy the annual “where is Fletcher” video. The other reason is the sheer joyfulness of it. So, blog friends, pull on your dancing shoes, and join Fletcher students (as well as our outgoing and incoming academic deans) as they dance their way around the world.


The announcement of the appointment of James Savridis as Fletcher’s new dean hit my inbox today.  Read below the letter to the community from Tufts Provost David Harris, and you can also refer to the press release on the Fletcher website:

Dear Members of the Tufts Community,

I write today with good news. Following an extensive search that considered candidates from around the world, we have selected Admiral James Stavridis as the next Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Admiral Stavridis graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, and later earned a Masters degree and a Ph.D. from Fletcher. He serves currently as Commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander. Previously Admiral Stavridis led the U.S. Southern Command, was charged with leading a critical revision of Navy strategies and tactics after 9/11, and commanded a number of Navy ships and groups.

Admiral Stavridis thoroughly impressed our search committee with his tremendous enthusiasm for Fletcher, his keen understanding of his own strengths and limitations, his track record of building teams and organizations, his eagerness to engage internal and external audiences in support of Fletcher and Tufts, his extraordinary leadership skills, his demonstrated commitment to diversity, and his depth of knowledge and experiences across several areas that are key to the Fletcher mission—diplomacy, security studies, international organizations, and politics.

Admiral Stavridis has the rare combination of intellectual curiosity, social intelligence, humility, leadership skills, and respect from others that have made him one of the great military and political leaders of his generation, and that will make him a spectacular Fletcher Dean and a key member of the university leadership team.

Admiral Stavridis will begin his term on July 1, 2013. He succeeds Dean Stephen Bosworth, who has served with distinction since 2001.


David R. Harris
Provost and Senior Vice President


Through this past Monday, Fletcher looked like it did at any other moment in the semester.  Then classes ended and study days began.  Exams began yesterday and will continue until next Wednesday, but students have already started to peel away, and many fewer first-year students will be around next Monday than were here earlier this week.  It’s only a matter of a week or two before staff are looking like this deer, wondering, “Where is everybody?”

Deer in field

That doesn’t mean that students, faculty, and staff are letting go of the semester easily.  Fletcher Follies, a night of fun, closed out the last day of classes.  Last night our incredibly talented students (and even some professors) arranged and performed the Fletcher Spring Recital.  PhD students will hold a “come lunch with us” event today.  The Extreme Inclusion Conference was held yesterday, with meetings today among practitioners.   Tomorrow, Fletcher will be the site of an alumni event that happens to include our graduate, Farah Pandith, in addition to former Tufts undergraduates.  Overall, the Fletcher calendar doesn’t make it clear that the academic year is coming to an end.

I’ll be honest, staff members enjoy the first quiet weeks of the summer.  Suddenly, we’ll find ourselves completing projects that were perpetually on the to-do list throughout the semester.  But productivity only goes so far in keeping us happy, and we’ll miss having the rest of the community here with us each day.  All the more reason to enjoy next week when students are still around.


Returning to the questions blog readers asked me to cover this spring, Mirza is going to describe options for cross-registration.  The opportunity to cross-register for up to a quarter of the classes a student takes toward a Fletcher degree is one of the factors that makes us say that no two students graduate with exactly the same curriculum.

One of the many great options at Fletcher is cross-registering at other graduate units of Tufts or Harvard University, or even beyond.  (Keep in mind that MALD or MIB students are allowed to cross-register for four classes total during the two years at Fletcher.)  With so many great higher education institutions in Boston, such cooperation and sharing of resources among different schools makes sense and you should by all means take full advantage.

Currently, in my second semester at Fletcher, I am taking two classes at Harvard — one at Harvard Kennedy School (Values, Interests and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy) and one at Harvard Law School (Political Economy After the Crisis).  They have both been challenging but intellectually rewarding, and have offered a slightly different perspective and learning environment from Fletcher.  Combining such outside academic experience with the Fletcher experience has been, at least for me, extremely valuable.

Not everyone, however, will find cross-registering beneficial to their academic and professional path.  For some, Fletcher offers exactly what they need, and this is perfectly fine.  It can also be overwhelming to browse through hundreds of captivating courses at other schools, in addition to over a hundred amazing courses at Fletcher.  Still, it is an option well worth keeping in mind as you think about the courses and fields that you’d like to pursue while in graduate school.  One piece of advice is that you should not cross-register during your first semester at Fletcher.  The incipient relationships that you form with your classmates are quite important, and you don’t want to hinder that vital component of the graduate school experience.  As you settle in, however, venturing outside of Fletcher and Tufts will not be a problem, and will likely add considerable value to your academic growth.

Like almost everything in life, there are pros and cons to cross-registering.  Here are a few tips, based on my experience, to keep in mind should you wish to cross-register:

  • A different perspective (Always a good thing.)
  • A new network (Also always a good thing.)
  • A better awareness of the many free events, lectures, and seminars in the area.  (These are the activities from which you will learn a whole lot — really worth exploring, and Harvard offers a great deal of them, all throughout the academic year.)
  • Harvard Square (It’s quite lovely, but bring waterproof boots in the winter.)
  • Access to the beautiful Harvard libraries (They are, indeed, quite nice.)
  • Time spent traveling to Harvard Square (Not so bad, but in the rain and during midterms/finals… it can become a drag.)
  • Group work taking place outside of Fletcher (So even more time spent traveling.)
  • Conflicting class schedules between Fletcher and Harvard (Not usually a problem, but HBS especially can be tricky.)
  • Nostalgia for Fletcher (It’s true — we’re all at Fletcher because we love it for one reason or another, so it’s possible to start missing your “real” home even if you’re away for just a short while.)

Overall, cross-registration is not a biggie, and there are so many great courses that it’s worth at least a quick look to see if something strikes you.  The rest is just logistics — a bit annoying, but not enough to prevent you from taking a great class.  A quick note regarding MIT, Boston University, and other Boston-area schools: they do not participate in the official cross-registration process with Fletcher, but it’s possible to take classes there with the instructor’s permission and a couple of logistical “tricks.”  Feel free to talk to me about it if you wish to find out more — I’ll be taking classes at both MIT and BU next year.

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