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With ten days to go, organizers of TEDxTufts are wrapping up the last planning details, and several members of the Fletcher community are polishing their talks.  Alumna Angeli Gianchandani (a 2013 graduate of the GMAP program), current student Jeremy Blaney (second year MIB), and the faculty/staff team of Prof. Sulmaan Khan, Ellen McDonald (Ginn Library), and Elayne Stecher (Center for International Environment and Resource Policy) are all among the scheduled speakers.

Though tickets for the event are sold out, you will (of course) be able to follow some of the action via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


This has been the post-admissions-decision week when I have felt most overwhelmed by the pace of work, made worse by a busy week at home that left no extra time to extend my work day.  Lengthy or detailed blog posts have been one of the casualties.

Today I’m going to share a few sentences that have come my way and that I think capture the nature of Fletcher.  The first comes from Ben Mazzotta, a member of the research staff of the Institute for Business in the Global Context who is also a graduate of the MALD and PhD programs, and who is about to embark on a new adventure on assignment for USAID.  In a note of farewell, Ben wrote:

It has been a privilege to work here, where so many people genuinely come to work in the morning with the belief that we can solve the world’s problems, and then set about doing exactly that.

For students, this is their school, but for faculty and staff, this is our workplace, and Ben has captured the reason why so many of us have dedicated many years to working here.

The second note also came from an alumnus, in this case one who has gone on to become the ambassador from Pakistan to Japan.  After hosting an event for newly admitted students in Tokyo, Ambassador Amil reported back on the brief speech he gave at the event:

My message was that Fletcher has given so much to us in building bridges of understanding and hope, and it is important to maintain that connectivity.  I made friends for life there!

We Admissions staffers are proud of the role we play in building the Fletcher student and alumni communities.  In a busy week, reading these brief but timely notes reminds us of the impact we hope to have.

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With most graduating students either just done with or still toiling over their Capstone Projects, and with incoming students inquiring about support for research, I thought I would share this notice from last month inviting students to apply for capstone research grants.  I can’t guarantee that this exact opportunity will be available again next year, but students who plan carefully can find sources of support for their research.

The Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs at the Fletcher School announces research funding opportunities for Fletcher students.  In accordance with its mission to sponsor research on the role of innovation and technological change, the Hitachi Center seeks to provide funding to advance student research in these fields.

The Center will fund student research projects for current capstones, or research that will be conducted over the summer of 2015 that leads to future capstones, on the role of technology in international affairs.

Research proposals that focus on the following areas will be given priority:

  • Technology and economic development, in particular ICT4D
  • Technology and agriculture, the environment, education, financial services, health, human security, democracy, security and terrorism
  • Global technology industries
  • “Next Generation” Infrastructure: Global trends in the evolution of social infrastructure (infrastructure that supports migration of data/information across platforms, and dependability)

Students must be enrolled in a degree program at The Fletcher School and plan to spend the summer of 2015 engaged in research for a graduate program capstone project, dissertation or the equivalent.  Priority will be given to: 1) projects that are the most closely related to the Center’s areas of interest; and 2) are related to capstone research.  In addition, grantees should be willing to write up a brief summary and do a poster presentation of their research by October 2015, to be shared with the Hitachi Center Board.

Students interesting in applying for this funding should provide:

  • A research proposal of no more than three pages
  • A timeline of the summer research plan
  • A proposed budget (including any other expected or potential sources of funding)
  • A letter of support from a faculty capstone project advisor
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Recently, Paula Armstrong (a second-year MALD student) wrote to tell me about her recent involvement in community diversity-related issues.  She said,”I’m part of a group of students who wrote a memo to Dean Stavridis last December about fostering diversity and inclusion at Fletcher.  Since then, we have been planning a number of events to increase discussion of these issues, as well as of social justice more broadly.”  Today, she’ll describe some of these events, which are open for prospective students who may be visiting the area.

Students come to Fletcher from a wide range of backgrounds and go off to work in all corners of the world after graduating.  As a student body, it’s therefore important for us to think critically about diversity and inclusion.  These topics shape both who we are and the environments we will find ourselves working in.  Three student-planned events in March and April highlight these issues:

Film Screening – The House I Live In, Wednesday, March 4

o   The House I Live In explores the global “war on drugs” and its destructive impact on black Americans.  Approximately 20 Fletcher students attended the screening and participated in the discussion that followed. Facilitated by Seth Lippincott, second-year MALD, this discussion focused on the domestic implications and global impact of the “war on drugs,” as well as on how to engage in a dialogue with other students and professors to connect the issues of race and inequality in the United States to the Fletcher curriculum.  Students also weighed in about the importance of discussing the negative consequences of certain U.S. public policies and linking this discussion back to international work post-Fletcher.

Panel Discussion – Navigating Social Identities in the Workplace, Wednesday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., Mugar 200

o   Hosted by the Ralph Bunche Society for Diversity in International Affairs, Global Women, Fletcher LGBTQA, and the Office of Career Services

o   At Fletcher, we know that who you are and where you come from do not affect your intellectual capabilities.  We also understand, however, that conscious and unconscious biases, based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and other aspects of our social identity, in the U.S. and abroad, can have a profound impact on how we are viewed an​d treated.  This presents both the challenge to manage the negative implications of these biases in our own careers, and the opportunity to be allies in the workforce for colleagues and clients who are targeted or marginalized.  The goal of this panel is to offer a space for Fletcher students to have a dialogue about the opportunities and challenges that they have faced in their work environments, domestically and abroad, associated with their social identities.  Come hear from other Fletcher students who have tackled issues regarding their social identity in the U.S. and abroad.  Also learn more about two Fletcher alumni associations, Global Women and the Fletcher Alumni of Color Association, that offer support navigating your career upon graduation.

Workshop — The Art of Inclusive Leadership, Saturday, April 11, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Cabot 7th Floor

o   Facilitated by Diane Goodman, Ed.D, Diversity and Social Justice Trainer and Consultant

o   Join your fellow Fletcher students in a dynamic, interactive workshop to develop concrete communication, interpersonal, and cultural competence skills to be an inclusive leader.  Students will have the opportunity to explore their leadership attributes, share their experiences, apply concepts to real world scenarios, and gain the skills and knowledge to lead diverse and inclusive programs in domestic and international contexts. Lunch will be provided.

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As admitted applicants make their decision to enroll at Fletcher, they then turn their attention to arranging housing for September.  Our blogger, Diane, lived in Blakeley Hall last year (2013-2014) and gathered some thoughts on living there from her fellow dorm-mates.  I should note that the majority of our students live off-campus, in apartments in surrounding communities, but for some new students, a room in Blakeley is just right.  Also, last summer (2014), the Blakeley kitchen was renovated, expanded, and improved, taking care of some of the issues that existed a year ago.  Here are Diane’s reflections:

blakeleyFor many incoming students, particularly those new to Boston, the question of where to live can be quite daunting.  In my first year at Fletcher, I chose to live in Blakeley Hall, a dormitory specifically for Fletcher students.  Much like any housing situation, living in Blakeley has its advantages and disadvantages.  Blakeley has space for around 80 students.  Each student has a private bedroom within a suite that has a living room shared with one or two other students.  There is one bathroom on each floor, shared between four or five people (two suites).  The kitchen, common room, and laundry room are shared by everyone.  There are seven separate towers, each with its own door, and they do not interconnect.  So what does this mean for a student who chooses to live at Blakeley, and what kind of students decide to live there?  I interviewed a few students who lived there with me last year to capture the different experiences they had.

Eric, Canada:

1) Your favorite thing about living in Blakeley: My favorite things about living in Blakeley were the spontaneous moments of fun that were enabled by living with 80 other Fletcher students: participating in an impromptu cricket match or poker game; sharing a drink or meal with others on a Monday night, just because; and the always lively discussions on topics such as nuclear proliferation, Pakistani politics, or Tibet’s struggle for independence, which were a regular part of a dinner conversation.

2) Your least favorite aspect of living in Blakeley: Sharing a bathroom with four other people, sharing a fridge with 12, and having to go outside to get to the kitchen.

3) Your Blakeley memory: I will remember the kindness and generosity of my fellow Blakeley residents when they offered to share their home-cooked Indian meals, apple pies, and Thanksgiving feasts.

Justin, America:

1) Your favorite thing: The three-minute commute to class.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The towers are not interconnected.

3) Your Blakeley memory: Unexpectedly getting amazing spiced tea from Elba on the way to class in the morning.

Jessica, America:

1) Your favorite thing: My favorite aspect of living at Blakeley was the community.  I got to live and learn with 83 wonderful people.  Whenever I needed a break from studying, I always went to the kitchen to have tea and talk.  There were parties, barbecues, and Game of Thrones evenings.  There were midnight birthday celebrations and snowball fights.  Living at Blakeley helped me make many close friendships, and I am so grateful that I have those people in my life.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The shared kitchen.  So many people in one kitchen: it got rather cozy at times.  I got to try some amazing food, though!

3) Your Blakeley memory: My Blakeley memory is our “Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner” that was held the Sunday before the actual holiday.  Thanksgiving is a big celebration in my family, and I wanted to share the tradition with my friends.  With the help of many Blakeley residents, we made dinner for about 50 people — including two 20-lb turkeys, 15 lbs of mashed potatoes, 10 lbs of apple crisp, salad, stuffing, cornbread, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, brownies, and more.  It was incredible to see how many people pitched in to help with the cooking and the decoration of the common room.  It was a fun night, and it helped distract us from thoughts of our upcoming finals!

Deepti, India:

1) Your favorite thing: It’s the perfect place to get to know your new classmates well and adjust to a new environment or country!

2) Your least favorite aspect: The space constraint.

3) Your Blakeley memory: Impromptu conversations over food in the common kitchen!

Xiaodon, America:

1) Your favorite thing: Being able to duck back home for a coffee break between classes.

2) Your least favorite aspect: Overcrowding in the kitchen.

3) Your Blakeley memory: Too many.  Here’s a random one: epic essay-drafting all-nighter in the common room near exam period with Fedra, Clare, Cilu, Caleb, Juanita, and other sleep-deprived supporting characters.

Sid, India:

1) Your favorite thing: Feeling of community — I made friends from all over the world.  The kitchen was one of my favorite places (also one of the reasons that prompted me to move out) as I got to make new friends.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The kitchen and the laundry room were too far from my room, especially during winters.

3) Your Blakeley memory: FRIENDS!

Paula, America:

1) Your favorite thing: My favorite thing about living in Blakeley was the chance to become good friends with people from all over the world.  I think living in a dorm together inevitably builds a special sense of camaraderie among Blakeley residents that’s otherwise harder to come by in a graduate program.

2) Your least favorite aspect: My least favorite thing about living in Blakeley is having to share a kitchen with 80+ other people.

3) Your Blakeley memory: My favorite Blakeley memory is Thanksgiving 2013 — everyone cooked and ate together and there was truly a feeling of Blakeley being a second family for all of us.

Diane, Australia (that’s me):

1) Your favorite thing: Being able to take a nap between classes.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The kitchen, particularly if you don’t live in a tower that interconnects with it.

3) Your Blakeley memory: The snow day — everyone went to Fletcher Field and had a giant snowball fight, and then we came inside and made pancakes and hot chocolate.

So you can see, living in Blakeley can be lively, convenient, entertaining, and full of fun, but it also has its downsides, particularly if you like to cook a lot on your own.  I am glad I got to experience an American dorm, and was able to live for a year on the Tufts campus, which is beautiful in all seasons.

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Pulling Fletcher events into a list in February inspired us to do the same for the post-Spring Break weeks of March.  Here’s the jam-packed calendar that Christine put together for us, noting that she hoped students returned well enough rested to take advantage of everything going on.

March 23: Charles Francis Adams Lecture by General Knud Bartels, Chairman, NATO Military Committee, NATO: Current and Future Challenges

March 23: 2015 Leontief Prize: Macroeconomics in the Age of Climate Change, to be awarded to Duncan Foley and Lance Taylor for improving our understanding of the relationships between environmental quality and the macroeconomy

March 25: Diplomatic Tradecraft U.S. Department of State Speaker Series featuring Fred M. Boll, deputy director of the Office of International Migration in the Department of State’s Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migration, Political Reporting Diplomatic Tradecraft – Researching, Analyzing, and Reporting on International Political Events and Trends

March 25: The Future of American Superpower: Implications for Security, Politics, and Markets with Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group, and James Stavridis, Dean of The Fletcher School

March 26: Supply Chains for Relief and Development Converge: Case Study of the Ebola Response in Liberia, with Jarrod Goentzel

March 26: “Markers of Country Fragility” with Professor Nassim Taleb, distinguished professor of Risk Engineering at NYU’s School of Engineering

March 27: Celebrating Bill Martel, a celebration of the life of beloved Fletcher professor

March 30: A conversation with Brian Moynihan, CEO, Bank of America, moderated by James Stavridis, Dean of The Fletcher School

March 31: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and the International Security Studies Program present: Symposium on New Dynamics in Japanese Security Policy

March 31: The Military at Home and Out Front: Personal Perspectives from the American military featuring active-duty and reserve Fletcher students and Veterans

March 31: Digital Humanitarians: This talk charts the rise of Digital Humanitarians and describes how their humanity coupled with innovative solutions to Big Data is changing humanitarian response forever.

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One of the more commonly selected Fields of Study at Fletcher is International Environment and Resource Policy, which also has an associated research center.  If you plan to pursue environment study at Fletcher, you’ll want to check out the CIERP website, which includes several profiles of alumni working in the field.

If you’re especially interested in the CIERP community, you’ll also want to read about the faculty and staff.  It’s worth noting, too, that CIERP hires students for several research positions each fall.

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I always prefer sharing a student perspective on Fletcher life, rather than writing myself.  Today I’m sharing a post Alex sent along last week about the new Strategic Plan.  When I say “new,” I mean newly completed.  It has been in the works for more than a year.  Let’s let Alex tell you about it.

Right now, Fletcher students are in a very short-term mindset.  Survive midterms.  Land an internship.  Make it to Spring Break.

Luckily, the administration is thinking a little bit more long-term, and has recently developed a new Strategic Plan for The Fletcher School: To Know the World.  The five-year plan’s vision is to go even further to make Fletcher the “premier institution for preparing a highly selective and diverse network of global leaders, whose influence is felt across the public, private and non-profit sectors.”

The plan includes four overarching, mutually reinforcing objectives:

  • Relevance: enhance professional and academic preparation of students as problem solvers, future leaders and agents of change;
  • Reputation: bolster the School’s reputation by increasing research productivity and impact on decision makers;
  • Resources: ensure a robust and more diversified revenue stream to support pursuit of School’s mission;
  • “Right Stuff”: maintain a sustainable, diverse and high-quality student body across all our degree programs.

These objectives are supported with myriad initiatives, from strengthening research centers and enabling professors to do more research, to upgrading facilities and leveraging technology to enhance learning.  I would highly recommend looking through the plan, to see where Fletcher will be going in the next couple of years.

Of course, I was most curious about what the immediate impacts of the plan will be for current, admitted, and prospective students.  How will Fletcher actually be different in the Fall of 2015?  So I went right to the source, and met with Dean Stavridis.

The Dean mentioned a number of exciting plans, but a couple stood out.  The administration is in the process of hiring a professor with expertise in cyber, to help keep Fletcher on the cutting edge of this growing field.  They are also building a television studio on site to help facilitate media appearances by the faculty (Dean Stavridis, alone, has done over 160 in the last 12 months!) and for use in classes such as The Arts of Communication (one of my favorite last semester).  Finally, one of the most exciting plans in the works is establishing a strategic partnership with a globally-focused think tank in Washington D.C.; this will provide an opportunity to collaborate on research, participate in exchange programs, obtain internships, and in general serve as a home base for Fletcher in the nation’s capital.

At a school known for producing exceptional strategic thinkers, it is fitting that Fletcher should have such a stellar Strategic Plan.  I look forward to seeing it in action.

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Yesterday brought us the full range of late winter weather — from mild and dry in the morning, to mild and raining in the afternoon, to cold, windy, and snowy in the evening.  What’s important is that we have set a new record for annual snowfall, all the more remarkable because December and the first half of January and of March have been pretty much snow free.  Boston is such a competitive sports town that I was hardly the only person cheering for the record to fall.  All this winter hardiness must not be for naught!

This is spring break week, and most Fletcher students are not in the building today, though there are a few thesis writers in the library, and I chatted with a PhD candidate on our way in by bus this morning.  In the lead up to vacation, I heard about plans ranging from a relatively restful week near campus to hiking trips, to a few days on a beach somewhere.  And then there’s a group of 55 students who are traveling together in Israel and the West Bank to meet with prominent Israelis and Palestinians in the political, business, and security sectors.  (I hope to share photos when they return.)

As for the Admissions Staff — we’re all here, answering questions from applicants and reaching out to admitted students.  It’s both quiet and busy in the Office — not a bad combination for spring break week.


A quick update for you.  In September, we featured posts from three groups of students who had pursued summer research projects sponsored by Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context and the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth.  Yesterday I heard from Trevor Zimmer and Michael Mori, who wrote about their research on Indonesian mobile money.  Since then, their report, “Mobilizing Banking for Indonesia’s Poor,” has been published, and MasterCard has posted it on their website. Congratulations to Michael, Trevor, and IBGC!

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