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The Tufts Energy Conference is still coming up this weekend, and the spring semester is always loaded with activities that were planned throughout the academic year.  Today (sticking with the environment theme), there’s “Fletcher’s Warming Arctic Conference,” which will start off in the Aidekman Arts Center.  Why the Arts Center?  Because Aidekman is the host of a timely exhibit, Seeing Glacial Time: Climate Change in the Arctic.  I haven’t been over there to check out the exhibit yet, but I plan to visit one afternoon.  (The exhibit was among the Boston Globe‘s picks of the week a little while back.)

Shifting gears to a warmer part of the world, and looking ahead about a month, Fletcher will host “Turkey’s Turn?” on April 10 and 11.   The timing is right for admitted applicants to include the conference during an exploratory trip to Fletcher.  Keep it in the back of your mind, or go ahead and reserve a spot.

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It isn’t true that every time I turn around there’s another update about something exciting happening in the environment field here at Fletcher, but it feels that way.  Just this spring, here’s some of what we’ve heard:

First, we received an update from Prof. Gallagher, whom you read about on the blog just last week.  She wrote:

Dear colleagues, students, and friends of Fletcher,

I am pleased to announce some exciting changes in the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP).

Last fall, I invited a number of faculty members from around Fletcher to join CIERP as Faculty Research Affiliates.  These faculty members will be working in one or more of our five research programs.  From Fletcher we are delighted to have Prof. Jenny Aker, an expert on development and agriculture.  From the Economics Department at Tufts, Prof. Gilbert Metcalf, Prof. Kelsey Jack, and Prof. Ujjayant Chakravorty.  From Political Science, we welcome Prof. Kent Portney who has agreed to direct our water and oceans program and who is an expert on water policy and sustainable cities, among other topics.  We look forward to deepening our research collaborations with these outstanding faculty members at Tufts.  As was already announced, we also look forward to having Prof. Avery Cohn in residence for the next academic year as our new professor of environment and resource policy.  Avery will lead our Agriculture and Forests program.

Mieke van der Wansem, a long-standing staff member and Fletcher alumna, becomes the new Associate Director of Educational Programs.  In this new role, she will enhance the overall effectiveness of CIERP in meeting its educational mission.  She will work to expand and sustain executive education, help guide the development and implementation of environment and natural resource policy education initiatives inside and outside the classroom, and manage some of our research projects as appropriate.

Best,
Kelly Sims Gallagher

Then we learned that Prof. Gallagher and Prof. Portney had submitted a proposal to the Tufts University provost to create a new “bridge professor” position in the field of water security.  Here’s their description:

The Water Security Bridge Professor would work in the interdisciplinary area of international environmental security, covering issues of political sovereignty, human rights, regional security, and sustainable development. It might also include a focus on the policies and mechanisms, military and nonmilitary, nations use in their efforts to gain and protect access to water. A regional focus could be both possible and desirable, for example, in Southeast Asia, the Arctic, and the states of the former Soviet Union.

As blogger, I should have the answer to the question of when the bridge professor will join us.  I have to admit that I’m not sure, but I believe it will be for September 2015.

And then, there’s the annual Tufts Energy Conference coming up next weekend, March 8-9.  As the conference website says:

The Tufts Energy Conference (TEC) is a two-day energy conference that brings together experts from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors with students and professionals to discuss critical global energy issues. The conference is entirely organized by students from a broad range of  backgrounds in engineering, international affairs, urban planning, and economics. From a two-panel event in 2006, TEC has grown into one of the largest entirely student-run energy conferences in the region.

Experts from the private, public and nonprofit sectors, students, and professionals are all invited to attend TEC 2014 on March 8-9, 2014 (Saturday and Sunday), which will focus on Shifting Dynamics in Emerging Markets.

The conference agenda looks terrific!  Come on over!

Last (or at least, the last piece of news I’ve been able to keep track of), there’s the 2014 Tufts Energy Competition, with a prize of $3,000 to jump-start an energy idea, and with a new-this-year solar competition:

Working on a project on energy or sustainability that can be transformed into a winning proposal?  The Tufts Energy Competition is looking for your ideas.  This competition is a celebration of innovative, student-driven solutions to energy challenges.  The goal of the Tufts Energy Competition is ultimately to implement projects that explore solutions to key energy issues.  The winning team will receive up to $3000 to implement their project and the runner-up team will receive $2000.  Every Tufts student is eligible to apply, including engineering students, undergraduates, medical students, Fletcher students, and more.

Previous finalists and winners include:

•  A Split Junction Solar Concentrator for More Efficient Electricity Generation
•  Giving Students the Chance to Choose Their Energy
•  Efficient Hygiene Initiatives: Bringing Ecological Sanitation to Thottiypatti
•  Solar-Powered Uninterruptible Power Systems
•  Ocean-Based Algae Energy
•  Wind Turbines and Solar Cookers in Zimbabwe
•  High Voltage Lithium Ion Battery Management System

The winner will be announced next weekend at the Tufts Energy Conference.

So that’s the round-up of a semester’s news for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy and generally in the field.  And it’s news that assures us that next year will be exciting, too!

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Sometimes I take a look at my “to-do list” and all creativity leaves the building.  On those days, I’m glad to be able to point you toward other Fletcher writers, and there’s a bounty of material to share!

Hot off the wire this morning is an op-ed by Haider Mullick, a Fletcher PhD candidate.

Also timely, this article from Foreign Affairs, co-authored by second-year MIB students, Jianwei Dong and Kate Fedosova, along with Dean Chakravorti (about whom you’ll be reading more in the blog on Wednesday).

And then there’s this update from The Fletcher Forum.

Dear Fletcher students, faculty, and staff,

We hope you’ve been following The Fletcher Forum’s ongoing conversation on Climate Change as part of the 2014 Global Risk Forum.  These past two weeks, we’ve had some very interesting articles on how we might approach and mitigate this global risk.

Professor William Moomaw opened the conversation arguing that Restorative Development — meeting our needs while allowing nature to do its job — is an essential element of any strategy for tackling climate change.  Fletcher PhD candidate Laura Kuhl responded by arguing that while Restorative Development may be a helpful approach to integrate mitigation, adaptation, and development goals, we should remain cautiously optimistic, since so much depends on how such an approach is implemented on the ground.

We then heard from Dr. Richard Houghton, the Acting President and senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  Dr. Houghton argued for an alternative strategy: forest management, which he thinks can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions. But it is not a permanent strategy, he argues, and the window of opportunity may be closing.

Next, Fletcher MALD student Caroline Ott responded that by focusing on the risks posed by the current fragility of climate negotiations, we are investing too heavily in a process whose outcome is not essential to the goals of emissions reductions and climate adaptation.  Rather than looking to climate negotiations as the finish line for a climate treaty, she argues, we should be using these talks to incite action from a range of bilateral and philanthropic institutions.

We are very pleased with the intellectual caliber of these perspectives and ideas about how to mitigate one of the critical global risks we are facing as an international community.  We hope you’ll continue reading these conversations and submit your own responses to web.editor@fletcherforum.org.  You can also engage with us on social media, follow us on twitter @FletcherForum, and tweet using #2014RiskForum.

Outside of our Global Risk conversations, we have additional recent content that may interest you as well — ranging from the role of Hezbollah in the Middle East to the impact of Artificial Intelligence technology on state power.

You can read more of our recent content here:

Metastasizing Menace: Hezbollah as a Regional Player, by Massaab Al-Aloosy

On Artificial Intelligence and Meta-Geopolitics, by Nayef Al-Rodhan

Reevaluating Ethopian-Saudi Ties Amid Migrant Worker Crackdown, by Alemayehu Weldemariam

Happy reading!
-The Fletcher Forum Online

I trust that all these articles and op-eds will more than take the place of whatever I might have written today.  I’ll do my best to create some interesting content for tomorrow.

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You may remember that last August, the World Peace Foundation introduced itself on the blog via three posts by Prof. Bridget Conley-Zilkic, and one of those posts described WPF’s annual student seminar competition.  Well, the competition took place last fall, and the resulting conference will take place this week.

Darfur Village Abandoned after Heavy ClashesUnlearning Violence: Evidence and Policies for Early Childhood Development and Peace” will feature “the best ongoing research in fields related to early childhood development and violence and peace.” It has been organized with the support of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University (interesting collaboration!) and the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.  I realize I haven’t given you much advance notice, but you can still register to attend.  Once you read through the agenda, I’m sure you’ll be tempted.

As I mentioned, the conference grew out of the student seminar competition, and two proposals on the same topic were selected.  The two teams of competition winners (with an impressive showing from first-year students!) worked together to create the seminar.  The students are:  Madeeha Ansari (second-year MALD), Jack Berger (first-year MALD), Maria Rita Borba (first-year MALD), Taryn Campbell (second-year MALD), Suh Yonn Kang (second-year MALD), Daniel Orth (second-year MALD), Tina Robiolle-Moul (PhD candidate), and Roberta Sotomaior (first-year MALD).  Congratulations to all of the conference organizers!  It should be a terrific and informative event.

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Cornelia-Schneider1Blog readers who follow Fletcher news through other sources (Facebook, Twitter, the Fletcher website) will already have read that Cornelia (Connie) Schneider F’06 has been selected for the inaugural Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award.  Sometimes I avoid topics that have received thorough attention in other media platforms — there’s not much value added from my comments.  In this case, though, I thought I’d add a few personal reflections.

First, I’m really happy that Fletcher has launched an initiative like this.  Truth be told, the U.S. never makes much of International Women’s Day, and it’s great that Fletcher will play its role in ensuring the day is not ignored.

But more important, there’s a reason why some of us are drawn to continue our work at Fletcher over a long period of time, and that reason is the interactions we have with our fantastic students.  I remember Connie from her time at Fletcher and, though I have not remained in direct contact with her, I hear about her now and then through others.  I consider it a great privilege to play a role (however small) in the career development of the extraordinary students who spend a few years of their life here.  Taking time for a graduate program offers students like Connie, who would have been in her late 20s when she applied, a chance to further their knowledge and consolidate all they have learned through their professional experience.  Reading about Connie’s accomplishments is a mid-admissions-season reminder on why admissions work, which opens the door for these interesting people to have this career-building opportunity, is so satisfying and important.

But back to Connie and the award.  According to the official announcement:  The Fletcher Women’s Leadership Award was established in 2014 by the Fletcher Board of Advisors and the School’s executive leadership to honor outstanding women graduates who are making a meaningful impact in the world in the private, public, and NGO sectors.  Connie currently leads Access to Justice initiatives for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a position she has held since December 2012. Her team works to implement projects that increase access to legal services for victims of sexual violence and seeks to diminish impunity for heinous crimes in the Eastern DRC — one of the most dangerous and troubled regions of the world.

In publications and press releases, Fletcher will often (quite naturally) focus on the alumni who are most prominent in their fields.  I have always thought there is also real benefit to highlighting the day-to-day work of graduates who represent the majority of our alumni — those who go out in the world and make their mark, while not necessarily generating headlines.  The award for Connie Schneider helps correct that imbalance in coverage just a little, and I’m excited to help spread the word about the award and the way it brings well-deserved attention to the extraordinary work that Connie has done throughout the world.

(Photo credit: Raphael Kopper)

 

Having a chance to meet some admitted students was a nice treat yesterday.  It’s fun to reconstitute the paper applicants back into real people.

And speaking of application reading/reviewing, our work continues.  Monday to Thursday, there’s generally a staff member at home, tackling a mountain of applications.  Since we had visitors yesterday, today both Liz and Laurie are reading at home.  On Thursday, both Dan and I will be grabbing files.  We also manage to squeeze in a little in-office reading, though some of us (Dan) are better at that than others (me — perpetually prone to distractions).

So, with everything moving along, I thought I’d share two quick notes today.

The first is that there’s a LinkedIn page for Fletcher that provides some information on careers of our alumni.  Of course, it only reflects the careers of alumni who have linked to it, but it’s still loaded with interesting info.

The second note is that a current student let me know about a blog she has been compiling on India’s upcoming election, which will run from April to May.  Shruti is a second-year MALD student who told me the blog analyzes election data, and she has been using the GIS skills she learned at Fletcher to aid in her analysis.  Read Shruti’s thoughts during the lead-up to the vote on her Indian Election Blog.

 

I never attend as many special lectures as I would want, but it’s always good to know that they’re happening and that students have the opportunity to broaden their education beyond the classroom by attending.  The series developed by the The Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) for this spring looks particularly interesting.  In announcing the line-up, the folks over at IBGC describe the IBGC Speaker Series as having “provided Fletcher students with substantive networking and recruiting opportunities with relevant global business leaders for the past 12 years.”  Updates to the lineup can be found on Twitter @IBGC_Fletcher.


January 2014

  • Wed. 1/22 – Susan Livingston, Partner, Brown Brothers Harriman
  • Thur. 1/23 ­– Ashish Karamchandani, Partner, Monitor Inclusive Markets, Monitor Deloitte India
  • Wed. 1/29 – Jeff Dodson (GMAP ’12), EVP, Strawn, Arnold & Associates

February 2014

  • Mon. 2/10 – Theodore Forbath, Global VP, FrogDesign
  • Wed. 2/26 – Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, Former Iraqi Security Advisor and Statesman in Residence at Fletcher

March 2014

  • Wed. 3/5 – Chip Ray, EVP, Chicago Bridge & Iron
  • Fri. 3/7 – Maria Gordon, F’98, EVP, PIMCO
  • Thurs. 3/13 – Willy Foote, CEO, Root Capital

2014 EVENTS – SAVE THE DATES

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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.

 

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