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Though between the hours of 8:00 and 5:30, today is a day like any other, the evening will find students scurrying from event to event.  The end-of-semester avalanche of special activities lines up like this:

Winter recital5:30:  Social Hour, hosted by the Ralph Bunche Society, with Cuban food.

6:00:  The annual debate between Professors Moomaw and Everett.  (A previous year’s debate will give you a taste of the likely energy-related content.)

7:15:  The Fletcher Winter Recital, featuring musical students, professors, and alumni.

10:30:  The Los Fletcheros fall gig at Johnny D’s, a club in Davis Square.  The place will be hopping!  (Doors open at 9:00.)

Midnight:  Reality sets in.  Classes are all but over, and exams loom on the near horizon.

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Many Fletcher student clubs and organizations are designed purely with fun in mind.  Case in point:  Fermentation 101.  But most students will also connect with an organization that links to their academic interests.  Today, second-year MALD student, Dara, tells us about her work with an activity that goes beyond the walls of Fletcher.

Like many volunteers, I became involved with the Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP) in my first year at Fletcher because of my general interest in refugee issues.  TU-RAP pairs newly arrived refugee families in the Boston area with groups of Tufts University students.  The students visit the families’ homes regularly to lend a hand with anything the family members may need to orient themselves to life in the United States.  I learned that this may include assisting with bill paying, helping children with homework, practicing English, or teaching the family how to use public transportation.

TURAP logoAware that refugees can experience a great deal of difficulty assimilating into a new life and culture, I was really excited to join the program as a volunteer.  My group was paired with a small family from Chad: a father (Caleb), mother, and a newly born, beautiful little girl.  While the family spoke very little English, luckily two members of the volunteer group spoke moderate French.  After being cut off from the support of their resettlement agency, and with the father unable to work due to a medical condition, the family was having a hard time meeting their basic needs.  Fortunately, they received government food assistance and were permitted to stay free of charge in an apartment.  All other material necessities such as diapers and transportation fees were hard to obtain, though.

Despite their difficulties, the family did the utmost to welcome us into their home.  Each time we visited, we were provided with fresh fruit, soda and water.  While there was not much we could do to help Caleb find a job, because of his condition, we did what we could.  We practiced English with the family, helped them sort through mail, and brought over a French driving manual in preparation for Caleb’s road test.  Once, we even helped to read and translate documents to enroll the family in health insurance.  Completing the enrollment paperwork took the entire visit, but it was very rewarding to be able to help with something they needed so much.

While I’m sure our assistance really benefited the family, I think we as volunteers gained the most from the experience.  Having a close-up look at the difficulties refugees face gave us an awareness of the gravity of the problem, and helped us to appreciate the conveniences of our own lives.  What really affected me was how this family — completely uprooted from their country, isolated from their relatives, and placed in a foreign country where they neither speak the language nor know the culture — remains positive.  Until this day, I speak often to my Chadian family and am happy to know that they consider me a friend.  For me, TU-RAP has been a life changing experience.  For that reason, I joined TU-RAP leadership this year to ensure that more students and refugees in need benefit from this program.

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With students from around the world, the Fletcher community acts quickly in response to regional disasters.  Since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the Philippines, students have started to organize fund-raising activities, and I’m sure we’ll have details on their plans this week.

Meanwhile, readers might be interested in the work of a graduate of Fletcher’s PhD program, Patrick Meier.  Through a current student, Patrick sent this message to the community over the weekend:

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs just activated the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) in response to Typhoon Yolanda, which has already been described as possibly one of the strongest Category 5 storms in history.  The Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) was in turn activated by the DHN to carry out a rapid needs and damage assessment by tagging reports posted to social media.  So colleagues and I have launched MicroMappers in partnership with the SBTF to micro-task the tagging of tweets.  We need all the help we can get given the volume we’ve collected (and are continuing to collect).  This is where you come in!

In short, Patrick is part of team that is calling on individuals to monitor posts to social media as a means of determining where need is greatest in typhoon-struck areas of the Philippines.  He has asked Fletcher students to jump in and help.  Blog readers are also invited to be part of this effort.  Details , as well as a live crisis map, can be found on Patrick’s blog.

 

deanDean Stavridis joined us here at Fletcher just last July, and we’ve all been enjoying getting to know him.  Lucky for us, our opportunities to learn what he thinks extend beyond meetings or occasional interactions in the Hall of Flags.  Here are some sources of info on the Dean:

•  An article in Tufts Magazine that was also featured on the Tufts Now site.
•  His own blog, “To Know the World,” which also includes videos created in October and September.
•  Op-Ed pieces in publications, such as The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading some of Dean Stavridis’s writing or viewing his videos.  For briefer, but more regular, updates, you can also visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

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Tomorrow and Saturday, many students will be participating in the International Security Studies Program’s Simulex event.  Not only students, in fact, but also experts from U.S. War Colleges, National Defense University, Military Service Academies, and several other local universities.  The flyer announcing Simulex invites students to, “Develop and put your negotiation and crisis management skills to practice and save the (simulated) world!  Test your wits against your fellow students, senior political-military officials, and U.S. Government war gaming experts.”

What to know what the simulation will involve?  You can check out the program details or read the background scenario.

 

Still catching up with some news from the summer (however distant a memory summer might be), I’m happy to shine a light on all that GMAP has been up to.  Thanks to Adeline Wong (GMAP admissions manager) for writing up all the details of their busy summer.

Welcome to our newest Fletcher students, and a big welcome back to returning students, faculty, and staff!  For most of Fletcher, summer is a time of travel, research, and regrouping before the following academic year.  For the Global Master of Arts Program at Fletcher, it is a time of peak excitement and activity.

GMAP is a hybrid, mid-career master’s degree program that combines three two-week residencies with 33 weeks of online instruction.  New classes start each March and July and complete the program one year later.  Because students come together only three times a year, each of these residencies are intense experiences, with classroom sessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, supplemented with invited speakers, social events, and of course, great meals and stimulating conversations.

Over the summer, there were three GMAP residencies.  The first was the closing residency for the July Class of 2012-2013.  This was GMAP’s 22nd Commencement exercise.  Traditionally, the program invites a GMAP alumnus to return as Commencement speaker, and this July, GMAP was delighted to welcome back Mark Mullinix (GMAP ’11), First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The class elected as their Class Speaker Khaled Mansour (GMAP13), an Egyptian journalist and novelist who was, until recently, Director of Communications at UNICEF.  Professor Peter Walker, a member of GMAP’s faculty, provided the farewell from the faculty.

July Class of 2012-13

As GMAP celebrated its newest alumni group, we were also delighted to welcome its newest students, the July Class of 2013-14, who began their first residency on July 29.  This new class of 38 students, representing some 20 different countries, came from the fields of energy, diplomacy, military, non-government organizations, business, finance, and law.  Amidst orientation, classes, meals and speakers, the class also indulged in a long Tufts tradition – cannon painting!  They also met Dean Jim Stavridis during his first few weeks as dean, when he shared his thoughts on returning to Fletcher after his years in the Navy.

July Class of 2013-14

GMAP then had its third residency, this time with our March Class of 2013-14 at their midyear international residency in Berlin, Germany.  Each GMAP class travels to an international location for one of the three residencies, where they immerse themselves in the political, economic and social concerns of the country, especially as it relates to their studies.  In Berlin, GMAPers found themselves in the front row viewing conversations on Germany’s economic and political reality in the European Union.  Staying at a hotel just minutes from the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, the Bundestag, and Checkpoint Charlie, the GMAP students, faculty, and staff also gained a deep appreciation for Germany and Europe’s history.

One of the highlights of the Berlin residency was the interaction that the GMAP Class had with Ambassador Klaus Scharioth — a distinguished Fletcher alumnus who was the former State Secretary of the German Foreign Office and the former German Ambassador to the United States (2006-2011) — and with Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, also an alum and former German Ambassador to the United States (2001-2006).  Ambassador Ischinger invited the GMAP students and Fletcher alumni to an incredible evening at the Allianz Forum, located in the shadows of the Brandenburg Gate.  He also hosted a dinner followed by a discussion with distinguished thinkers: Ambassador Scharioth, Dr. Helmut Anheier, Dean of the Hertie School of Governance, and Dr. Jörg Rocholl, President of the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT).  The conversation delved into Germany’s identity, the European crisis, and transatlantic relations.  You may have seen Dean Deborah Nutter’s interview with the two ambassadors in front of the Brandenburg gate on Dean Stavridis’ blog.

In addition, some 20 GMAP alumni met in Berlin for an Alumni Weekend consisting of continuing education classes, as well as social events which built new networks among the alumni and the students.

The GMAP March Class of 2013-14, in front of the Bundestag

It was a wonderful summer for GMAP, filled with warm welcomes to new students, jubilant congratulations to new alumni, and a renewal of friendships among continuing students.  We could not ask for a better way to start the new academic year!

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2013 is a birthday year for Fletcher — 80 years since the school’s founding in 1933.  To mark the occasion, students, staff, faculty, and many alumni will be attending a gala on Saturday evening.  And timed to coincide with the gala, The Fletcher Forum sent this announcement yesterday:

ForumcoverThe Fletcher Forum of World Affairs is pleased to announce the online launch of our brand new issue, Vol. 37:3, “Fletcher at 80.”  The Special Issue celebrates Fletcher’s 80th year with articles written by Fletcher alumni, faculty, and students.

The Special Edition of The Fletcher Forum features articles by Stephen W. Bosworth, Dean Emeritus of The Fletcher School, who shares his reflections on his tenure as Dean.  It also includes a message from current Dean James Stavridis, who suggests key areas of focus for the school in the years ahead, while also reflecting on its cherished history.  Prominent alumni and faculty lend their insights, and we read thoughts from Ambassador William A. Rugh, Richard H. Shultz, Jr., Ambassador Derek J. Mitchell, Hans Binnendijk, Michael Parmly, and many more.  The edition also includes a conversation with Mimi Alemayehou, Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).  Topics covered range from U.S.-Burma relations, to gender analyses in international development, to the challenges facing NATO, to a change in the status quo at Guantánamo Bay.  To view the complete list of articles and abstracts, along with PDF versions of the articles, please visit our website.  Individual PDFs of the articles are also available.

The Forum is run by a staff of forty graduate students here at The Fletcher School, and your support helps us to put out the best product possible each semester.  For further information, please contact The Forum staff.  On behalf of the staff of The Fletcher Forum we thank you for reading and look forward to your comments, feedback, and submissions!

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Fletcher’s Ginn Library reference librarian, Ellen McDonald, and I share something in common: we both have had two Fletcher careers.  In Ellen’s case, both careers (separated by a long gap) were in the library.  I asked her to reflect on the amazing change to the library’s role in the sharing of information from her first career to her second.

Libraries are undergoing rapid change and Fletcher’s Ginn Library is no exception.  Thirty years ago, the central feature of the library’s Reference Room was eight sections of 72-drawer catalog cabinets.  Computers were tucked into a small room which contained four boxy terminals.  Students worked at the Reading Room tables or settled into individually assigned study carrels in the stacks.  The on-duty Reference Librarian could be found seated at a centrally located desk with a phone and small ready-reference book collection at hand.  The general rule of library etiquette was QUIET.

Today, Ginn Library looks and feels very different.  While quiet study space continues to be one of the library’s main attractions, Fletcher students today also require collaborative work space.  One of the major features of a Fletcher education is networking: sharing knowledge and the creation of lifetime bonds.  Changes in technology, research, teaching, and learning have created a very different context for the missions of academic libraries.  As scholarship has grown more interdisciplinary, so has the library’s space evolved to facilitate this transition.  Today, Ginn is filled with furniture and spaces that are easily adapted to changing research and study styles.  The lower stacks area is now a group study lounge, equipped with large screens and whiteboards.  The group project areas are abuzz with students interacting, teaching one another in peer-to-peer workshops and collaborating on group assignments.

Information abundance due to mass digitization means that librarians have more work guiding users to the right sources — scholarly content can get lost in the internet flood.  Increasingly, librarians serve as curators of information, determining what to collect, store and deliver…and what not to collect.  With information-on-demand and instant information gratification the rule of the day, googlized students are less likely to need the fact-checking skills of a Reference Librarian.  Increasingly, students and professors turn primarily to Ginn’s librarians for in-depths consultations about research papers, Capstone Projects, internships, dissertations and field work.  Many of these reference transactions have moved from a reference office and phone to an online chat or e-mail.  Some of our GMAP students prefer the technological synthesis of old and new interactions that Skype offers…a digital “face-to-face” meeting.

Ginn Reading RoomThe impact of digital technology pervades most every library function.  The library’s oak catalog disappeared twenty years ago and large portions of the collection have followed it into the virtual world.  The ability to digitally obtain material via interlibrary loans has exploded the physical limitations of the library’s collection.  Ginn has less need to store large runs of journals, as digital libraries and resource-sharing consortia proliferate.  But walk into the Reading Room, and you’ll be transported back in time to Fletcher’s beginnings when the photograph to the right was taken.  Some things will never change.  The walls here still contain the same treaty collections, state papers and legal treatises.  Portraits of former deans still line the walls.  The library as a physical place continues to be a hub of learning and a connection to our past and shared history.  Despite all that has changed over the decades in Ginn Library, visiting alumni will discover a library space that continues on as the heart of the Fletcher School — a place for connection, collaboration and contemplation.

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In her final post today about the World Peace Foundation, Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the WPF Research Director and Assistant Research Professor at Fletcher, invites Fletcher students to become involved in the work of WPF.  The first post, which described WPF’s history, appeared two weeks ago, and the second post, describing the World Peace Foundation’s current work and mission, appeared last Wednesday.

World Peace Foundation

If you are interested in the work of the World Peace Foundation (WPF), there are a number of ways that you can get involved with us.  You can take our classes — Alex de Waal is teaching a course on African Politics in Fall 2013 and Bridget Conley-Zilkic is teaching on Mass Atrocities in Spring 2014.  Or you can attend our events, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on twitter (@WorldPeaceFoundation), and explore our website.

Access short, insightful essays by WPF staff and other global experts on our areas of thematic concern on our blog, Reinventing Peace.  Among the essays are series on reclaiming activism, ending mass atrocities, conflict mediation, new wars, and more.

The winners of the 2012-2013 Student Seminar Competition were, as pictured at left, Jennifer Ambrose F'14, Casey Hogle F'13, Trisha Taneja F'14, Keren Yohannes F'14.

The winners of the 2012-2013 Student Seminar Competition were, from left to right, Jennifer Ambrose F’14, Casey Hogle F’13, Trisha Taneja F’14, Keren Yohannes F’14.

If you are reading this as an enrolled Fletcher School student (master’s-level or PhD) you can also participate in our annual student seminar competition.  Each year we invite proposals from Fletcher students for a two-day seminar to be held on campus in February 2014.  WPF seminars offer a rare opportunity for leading experts to engage in incisive, collegial, and sustained dialogue on the pressing problems of our day.  The student competition enables Fletcher School students to frame an issue and interact with leading global experts on the topic of their choosing.

Past winning topics include “Western Advocacy in Conflict” (2012-2013) and “Drug Trafficking and Organized International Crime: Re-Framing the Debate.” (2011-2012).

The deadline for submitting a proposal is October 10, 2013.  Full information about the competition is available on our website.

WPF also hires two research assistants to help with our work for each academic year.  While the 2013-2014 positions are filled, look for new opportunities in the coming year.  We also have a number of research projects that you can get involved with.  This Fall 2013, we’ll be continuing our project on mass atrocity endings, which students can work on as an independent study.

Take a closer look at our website for more details, stay in touch with us, and we hope to meet you as the semester begins in September.

My first visit to Cape Cod was not auspicious.  Paul and I were new to the area (and newly married) and we decided to take a long weekend to visit Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape.  Off we went to Hyannis, where we hopped on the ferry.  A beautiful day on the Vineyard awaited us, so we rented bicycles, checked into our B&B, and headed out for a ride.  Half an our later, the skies opened.  Two days later, we gave up and ferried back to Hyannis, toting our bags of rain-soaked clothing.  It took us nearly ten years to commit ourselves again to more than a day on the Cape or the islands.

Bad weather still exists, of course, but I have come to love Cape Cod.  And earlier this month, I had a week of beautiful days in Eastham, gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore  We were accompanied by a flotilla of relatives from the UK, all here in search of warmth and sun, which we managed to provide in abundance.

Fletcher students are busy people, but I still encourage a little Cape Cod exploration while you’re here.  Reaching the Cape is easy enough by car or public transportation (ferry to Provincetown or train to Hyannis, with an on-Cape network of buses to take you from town to town).  As for what to do when you’re there, you can plan a spring/summer/fall weekend and enjoy a beach and a sunset.

2013-08-07 19.43.41Or you can visit in October, and check out the cranberry harvest.

2012-10-13 11.29.49

There’s something to do on a nice day in any season.  Put it on your mental to-do list for when you’re at Fletcher.

Meanwhile, today marks the end of summer, by at least one definition.  The Admissions staff is wrapping up the quiet days of completing projects in the absence of students, and we’re getting ready for the arrival of 250 (more or less) new Fletcherites on Monday!  Orientation activities will keep them plenty busy for the week while continuing students trickle back into town.  With other offices managing Orientation, we’re needed only for relatively few sessions — a break-in week before we really kick the semester into gear.

Depending on your perspective and your work, summer has several different end dates.  Though I’ll continue to fit summery activities in before autumn officially begins in September, the start of Orientation is when Fletcher abandons summer and gets back to the business of an international affairs professional school.  Time to wrap up my final projects and get ready!

 

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