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Blog posts have a short shelf life, and most readers don’t dig too deep into the archives. For that reason, I thought I’d share some of the most “liked” posts of this past year, as generated by the button below each post. Click on the photo below to take you to the original blog post or the feature series that it was part of.
First, and probably the blog post that has received the greatest number of “likes” ever, was Devon Cone’s report on her five years after Fletcher. It’s a lovely story that has drawn several particularly warm comments. If you enjoy reading about Devon’s post-Fletcher path, consider scrolling through all of the Five Year Updates.
Each of the posts in the Faculty Spotlight series was well received, and I couldn’t possibly choose among the professors, so I invite you to read all of their self-introductions. Click on Prof. Klein’s photo to the left, and then scroll through the posts I collected in 2013-2014. More to come this fall!
Incoming students have told me that they appreciated reading the stories of current students, and everyone was happy for Roxanne when she received the Presidential Award for Citizenship. To catch up with everything that Roxanne, Mirza, Scott, Diane, Liam, and Mark wrote this year, check out all the Student Stories.
Also informative for prospective students have been the updates from students in their first year post-Fletcher. Given the favorable response, I was proactive this year — I lined up a big bunch of students who graduated in May and who volunteered to write about the post-Fletcher career they hadn’t yet started. I’ll begin collecting the posts at the end of the fall. (As I write this, Margot’s post has exactly 100 likes.)
I enjoyed reading the posts students wrote about their activities during the academic year. I learned about things I had never even heard of! In addition to the post on the Human Rights Practicum, the one on the International Criminal Court Simulation was particularly well liked, but go ahead and check out the complete collection of Cool Stuff posts.
Finally, there were lots of likes for a few stories about particular students or alumni — posts that weren’t part of a blog feature series.
I don’t do it too often, but sometimes I can’t resist a nice wedding story. And with a Fletcher professor officiating at the ceremony, they don’t get much more Fletcherish than Megan and Sebastian’s event last summer.
The common element in nearly all these most-liked posts is that they were written by students, alumni, or professors. The few that I wrote myself tell the stories of students or alumni. That gives me a strong hint about areas on which to focus blog posts in 2014-2015!
Last Sunday, while I was doing a bit of cooking, I had good (and informative) company through the airwaves from Dean Stavridis, who was interviewed on NPR about the crisis in Ukraine. In any week, the dean can be found in a number of different forums, starting with his own blog and Twitter feed. He also has a new book coming out this fall. But the real reason for this short post is to bring your attention to a column he wrote for Time.com about his transition to an academic life. Among his other observations: “I went from the crisp efficiency of the U.S. military to what feels like, in comparison, the free-wheeling academic carnival that is higher education.” One year into his tenure as dean, Dean Stavridis seems to be thoroughly enjoying the “challenge of leading and mentoring young people, helping guide the trajectory of their lives in a positive direction,” despite the “startling shift” in his environment.
Tagged with: Dean Stavridis
Though summer reading is no more required this week than it was last week, I wanted to share some recent books by members of the Fletcher community, both faculty members and graduates. I can’t ensure that the list is comprehensive, but with topics from brand management to grand strategy, the new publications provide a nice picture of the breadth of interests at Fletcher.
Books by faculty
Kelly Sims Gallagher, The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology
Robert Pfaltzgraff (with Jacquelyn K. Davis), Anticipating a Nuclear Iran
Joel Trachtman, The Future of International Law: Global Government
Jeswald Salacuse, Negotiating Life: Secrets for Everyday Diplomacy and Deal Making
Books recently or soon-to-be published by recent graduates
Benedetta Berti, Armed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration
Nathalie Laidler-Kylander, The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy and Affinity
Alison Lawlor Russell, Cyber Blockades
And two others
Finally, a less recent graduate, Bill Richardson F’71, has published How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator. Prof. Salacuse also wrote a review essay of the book for Negotiation Journal. Check it out for a nice description of Ambassador Richardson’s career.
Tagged with: Supplementary reading
Tucked into one of Fletcher’s lecture rooms for the next two weeks are mid-career students in the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP) class of 2013-2014. They were welcomed back to campus with a dinner last night, and they’ll be in residence for two weeks, capping off a year of internet-mediated learning, punctuated by two prior residencies — here at Fletcher last summer, and in Abu Dhabi in January. This class will graduate on Saturday, July 19. A fresh group of students in the Class of 2014-2015 will arrive shortly thereafter.
The GMAP class is big enough to make a little noise when they’re on break, but the daily schedule is intense and we won’t see them often. It’s still nice to know that there are students in the building.
Tagged with: GMAP
Every year, Fletcher students are invited to submit their Capstone Projects to the Tufts Digital Library’s E-Scholarship collection. The 2014 collection hasn’t been posted yet, but there’s certainly no shortage of reading material. Most of the submissions are traditional theses, but I’m sure that, over time, we’ll be seeing some Capstones in different formats.
Tagged with: thesis
Here’s a bit of news worth noting, both because it’s about an honor received by two of our students, and because incoming students may also want to be considered for this honor in future years. To borrow the introductory paragraph from the website of APSIA, the consortium of schools to which Fletcher belongs:
The Harold W. Rosenthal Fellowship in International Relations and its partner, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), announce the selection of thirty fellows for Summer 2014. The Fellowship provides graduate students at APSIA member schools the opportunity to spend a summer working on international relations related issues in the U.S. government Executive Branch or the Congress.
And here are the Fellowship program’s descriptions of the two Fletcher recipients:
Emily Cole is working on a MALD degree at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, where she is a Seth E. Frank ’55 Fellowship recipient. Her concentrations are in human security and international environmental policy. In addition to her graduate work, Emily works on international food security, land grab, and agriculture policy issues at the Global Development and Environment Institute. She has also worked as a Peace Corps program assistant in Senegal and a senior associate at a consulting firm in DC. Emily’s undergraduate degree, cum laude, in political science and French, with a certificate in African studies, is from Amherst College. Emily will be hosted this summer by the U.S. House of Representatives, Ways and Means Committee.
Mark Hoover is enrolled in the MALD program at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, with a concentration in international negotiations and conflict resolution. He has worked as a translator for PACT-Building Capacity Worldwide in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo and as an economics intern at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. He was a Fulbright Fellow, working as a teacher at Escola Andorrana de Segona Ensenyanca d’Encamp, Andorra. Mark studied for a semester at the University of Burgundy Centre International d’Etudes Francaises, in Dijon, France, and his BA in political science and French studies, magna cum laude, is from Wake Forest University. Mark is spending the summer working for the U.S. Department of State, Embassy of the United States, Burkina Faso.
Congratulations to Mark and Emily!
Tagged with: Internships
It has been good to have the 15 Armenian students keeping us company at Fletcher for the past few weeks. Yesterday a new, and larger, group moved in to ensure that the building remains vibrant: the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Non-Violent Conflict. The Institute is organized jointly by Fletcher and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
Even with 1,100 Admissions Blog posts behind me, there are always topics I regret not having written about. To correct for one of those omissions, I asked Hovhannes Nikoghosyan, a current student in the Tavitian Scholarship Program, to write about his experience. Hovhannes and I were connected by blog friend Amy Tan, and Hovhannes graciously agreed to share information about his time at Fletcher. I should note that this is the 15th year when Fletcher has hosted Tavitian Scholars and, as background, Hovhannes told me that all the participants in this special six-month program are Armenian government employees with a minimum of three years, and an average of six years, of professional experience, with prior graduate education. They represent various government agencies, the Central Bank, and the President’s Administration. This year, the class also includes a Member of Parliament. Here is Hovhannes’s story.
It was a hot summer evening in Yerevan, late August 2013. I was sipping an icy gin and tonic, when I received a call from Dr. Ara Barsam, who has been skillfully administering the application process for the Tavitian Scholarship Program for a number of years. He was calling to tell me that I had been selected for the Class of 2014. I don’t exactly remember the part of the conversation that followed the words, “I congratulate you,” (Sorry, Ara!), but after that lucky day I lived in anticipation of my Fletcher dream coming true.
The academic wonderland of the Fletcher School embraced all 15 students in the Class of 2014 as we landed at Boston Logan Airport and found ourselves in the caring hands of Dr. Joyce Barsam — the Vice President of the Tavitian Foundation — who supported us from our arrival in Boston and through the six months to follow.
Following a few days of jet lag recovery, and a few more days of orientation, classes started and we were injected into Fletcher life — I think with an even heavier curriculum than regular students experience. With the program designed to offer coursework equivalent to a full academic year, Tavitian Scholars complete four or five classes every five weeks, each of them ending with a final exam — take-home or in-class — which puts extraordinary pressure on each student.
One of the strengths of the Tavitian Scholarship Program that I would highlight is that the fellows soon become knitted into the Fletcher Community, and experience the life of a typical student in a leading American university — anything from enjoying a fresh morning coffee in Mugar Café to finding ourselves in the library at 12:50 a.m., ten minutes before it closes. True, the Tavitian groups are in their own classes, yet there is hardly any difference with regard to workload or grading system, including the professors showing no mercy for late exam submissions! Also, group work and in-class activities create an atmosphere of academic exchange and interaction between the fellows themselves, which is enriching not only within the academic process, but far beyond it — creating the fabric of a future network throughout the public service in Armenia. In classes, we observe that this is how a diplomat learns the basics of public finance, or how an economist learns the difference between the Cold War and “Game of Thrones,” or those small differences between a “House of Cards” plot and real-life political campaigning.
More seriously, through all the disciplines we are taught here, we learn to look at our local problems in perspective, which makes them seem smaller and not really unprecedented. Rather than blaming Armenia’s geography or destiny, we learn to roll up our sleeves and meet the challenges. And this is perhaps the greatest strength of the program, which was originally created more than a decade ago to support and educate tomorrow’s decision-makers in the Armenian government.
Extracurricular activities are where students may find additional value from their time in Boston. Not only the Museum of Fine Arts or whale watching tours, but also auditing extra classes at Fletcher and other world-leading universities and schools in town are opportunities not to be missed. As in previous years, most of our Class of 2014 has chosen to audit courses at Fletcher, MIT, and Harvard’s Kennedy, Business, and Law Schools.
Outside the classroom, I am exceptionally glad we succeeded in putting together a roundtable discussion on April 28, “In the Pursuit of Peace,” looking from an academic perspective at the 20-year-long peace process that has followed the ceasefire in Nagorno Karabakh. The keynote speech by Nagorno Karabakh Republic Representative Robert Avetisyan, unparalleled and as-always-thought-provoking remarks by Professor Michael Glennon and Ambassador Rouben Shougarian — moderated by Professor Alan Henrikson and Associate Dean Deborah Nutter — have not only enriched our understanding of the smoldering conflict, but also benefited the wider Fletcher community.
As we are now approaching the end of our journey, the 2014 Tavitian Scholars thank The Fletcher School for maintaining and supporting our educational “moveable feast.” Of course, all this would remain a distant dream for many of us without the true generosity of Mr. Aso Tavitian, who teaches perhaps the most important lesson to each of us — that offering opportunity to those who cannot afford it themselves is the ultimate form of humanitarianism, and I thank him for this lesson from the bottom of my Armenian heart.
Now, as we will graduate in a week, the life-long mission for each of us in the Class of 2014 resumes with greater responsibility: to bring more good, and change, through our service to the Republic of Armenia.
After two lovely years of working with Roxanne, an amazing writer, I’m sad that her student blogger role is coming to an end. Though I’m hopeful to include her thoughts in the Admissions Blog in the future, the focus will shift to her post-Fletcher activities. Today, Roxanne shares her reflections on two years at Fletcher.
I remember reading the Admissions Blog from across the world and wanting to experience the buzz in Fletcher’s Hall of Flags that Jessica so frequently described. It, therefore, feels surreal to sit at my desk at home — the same desk where I have typed so many words and formatted so many footnotes — to write my closing reflections on this chapter of my Fletcher education. On May 18, I marched in Fletcher’s Commencement ceremonies and was once again moved by the love and care that run so deep in this community. When I look back on two years at Fletcher, I will, indeed, remember compassion, kindness, and care — for the world and for each other. As I had promised Jessica, I would also like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the other major themes and lessons that have punctuated my time at Fletcher.
- Prepare to be humbled by your peers. Professors, university leaders, staff, and guest speakers are all incredibly inspiring and will give you much to reflect on, but prepare for an immense amount of your learning to come from your peers. Some of my fondest memories of learning and community alike at Fletcher have taken place in the company of what a friend has affectionately dubbed “the Ladies who Law.” Choose your study groups well — those are the individuals who will help you make sense of econometrics or piece together the complex concepts of international law, and who will be entrusted with much of your collective learning. Know that there will be times when you understand concepts less than your peers, and times when you will have to shoulder more of the work or be better prepared. Treat your group work seriously and your peers with respect, and you will find yourself referencing their thoughts and insights just as much as you do those of your professors.
- Advocate for what you care about. I have always been drawn to the intersection of identities: conflict and humanitarian practitioner, scholar and activist. Inhabiting the intersections can be challenging, and clarifying my role in conflict-affected settings requires demarcating how these different identities interact. However, as a student, I was not prepared to cast any of the identities aside. I came to Fletcher to study and learn, but when I noticed that there was an opportunity to think more creatively as an institution about inclusive security, diversity, and analysis of gender and power, I leaped at the chance to facilitate these conversations. Looking back, I cherish the formation, advocacy, and momentum of the Gender Initiative at Fletcher and cannot imagine my time here without channeling my energy towards it. Advocating for what I (and many others!) cared about was not required for my courses. It was not an extra-curricular activity, per se. At the same time, it felt essential to me and it aligned my personal values, professional experience, and sense of what I wanted to give to this community. When you see opportunities to reflect on Fletcher as an institution, and to do so collaboratively and constructively, don’t shy away from them.
- Say yes. In an earlier post with advice to incoming students, I had suggested that you think about what you hope to accomplish at Fletcher prior to arriving. In this post, I suggest carving out some room for surprise. Try a class that is outside your field of expertise — just because it’s interesting, or because you want to learn from that particular professor, or just because you’re curious. Attend a talk that you don’t think is for you. Sign up to learn to dance salsa for the Culture Nights — even if you’ve never danced before. Some of the best learning takes place when you say yes and open yourself up to vulnerability, surprise, and the opportunity to be a novice again.
I am not quite ready to leave Fletcher — but perhaps that is a testament to the community itself: Fletcher inspires in all of us a constant desire to learn, challenge ourselves, and strive — and, at the same time, it sparks such an investment in our shared bonds that we are reluctant to leave the place and its people behind. Graduation has, however, catapulted us into the world and I am looking forward to watching these relationships evolve and reconfigure and to being part of our continued, shared learning. I promise to come visit on the Admissions Blog as an alumna from time to time — until then, thank you for reading, and have a wonderful summer!
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