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Several new professors have joined the Fletcher faculty this year.  Today, I’d like to introduce one of them, Chris Miller, Assistant Professor of International History.  Professor Miller is creating new programming on Russia, and will be teaching U.S. Foreign Policy, 1898-Present, Contemporary Issues in U.S.-Russian Relations, and Russian Foreign Policy from Peter the Great to Putin.  Here he describes the roots of his focus on Russia.

It has never been possible to make sense of international politics without understanding Russia, but the past several years have highlighted the importance of Russia in spheres as diverse as the Middle East to North Korea to cybersecurity.  At Fletcher, I am excited to work as part of a group of faculty who are building up Russian studies via conferences, student exchanges, guest speakers, internships in Russia, and student research projects.

This semester, I taught a course on U.S.-Russian relations that was video-linked with MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations), a Russian university.  We have a dozen students at Fletcher and a dozen at MGIMO, and we meet once a week to discuss and debate contemporary issues in the U.S.-Russian relationship.  In 2018, in addition to a course on the history of U.S. foreign relations, I’ll also teach a course on Russia and the World, from Peter the Great to Putin.

My own engagement with Russia began with my PhD at Yale in the history of the Cold War.  As part of research on my dissertation, I spent two years digging through Soviet archives in Moscow.  My aim was to understand the demise of the Soviet Union — a period when, in six short years the USSR went from being the world’s largest superpower to a group of 15 separate countries, all of which faced political dissolution and economic collapse.  I wanted to know why, during the 1980s, China succeeded in moving from socialist central planning to a capitalist market economy, but when the Soviet Union tried to make that same transition, it fell apart.

After looking through a number of Russian archives, including in the personal papers of Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union, I wrote a book titled The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy. When I was research and writing the book, I also taught at a university in Moscow, the New Economic School.

I was living in Russia in 2014, when the war with Ukraine began and Russia annexed Crimea.  That same year coincided with a surprise crash in the price of oil, Russia’s largest export.  Low oil prices combined with Western sanctions pushed the Russian economy into a painful recession.  Many Western experts predicted that Russia would face economic collapse and be forced to make political concessions in order to get sanctions lifted.

But this didn’t happen — and it created another puzzle.  Contrary to many initial expectations, Russia faced little difficulty in weathering the economic crisis, and has yet to compromise in exchange for sanctions relief.  It chose this path despite a sharp fall in living standards, particularly in 2015.  It is often argued that rising wages — made possible by high oil prices — underwrote Putin’s popularity in the 2000s, but falling wages and falling oil prices did not seem to dent his popularity after 2015.  To explore the making of Russian economic policy, I’ve just finished a new book Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia, which will be published in March 2018.

My next research project will explore the history of Russian diplomacy in Asia, with an eye toward understanding the factors that have repeatedly driven cycles of Russian engagement and disengagement in Asia.  Like the United States, Russia is today “pivoting” toward Asia.  But Russia has historically pivoted toward Asia roughly once a generation.  Will today’s pivot prove more durable or more successful than previous efforts?

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Some of my favorite initiatives each year are the ones that involve students creating learning opportunities for each other.  This year there are two “chat” series underway, one that features a professor talking with students about non-classroom topics (or, as the organizers describe it, “practical, personal insights that they may not directly address in the classroom”), and another that brings students together in our Blakeley Hall dormitory to learn from a fellow student.

The Faculty Chats series (also called “What Every Student Should Know About _____”) kicked off with Professor Sulmaan Khan whose first talk in the series promised to “challenge your assumptions, make the case for thinking like an historian, and possibly make you see whales in a whole new way.”

The second of the chats featured Professor Michael Glennon, who promised to “share some of his accumulated wisdom on work, life, and the law,” focusing on what he has learned thanks to mentorship, and experience that he wishes he’d had at the outset of his career.

The latest chat invited students to hear from Professors Monica Toft, Ibrahim Warde, and Elizabeth Prodromou.  Just this past Wednesday, the three members of the faculty told stories from their careers and reflected on the question, “How did you get here?”  And specifically, they discussed how the study of religion informed and impacted their work as academics and practitioners.

And now for the Blakeley Chats, which were actually developed last year after students realized that their classmates had interesting experiences worthy of sharing in a semi-formal setting.  (Sort of the mirror image of the faculty chats, which create a relaxed atmosphere for faculty and students, the Blakeley Chats give structure to the standard student conversations.)

I haven’t happened to see an announcement of the first chats, but subjects are meant to include jobs, travel, projects, or anything interesting to other students.  Last year, some students created presentations or photo slideshows, while others simply, well, chatted.

 

Easily missed among all the full-semester classes at Fletcher are a select group of half-semester modules.  The second half of the fall semester started last week, and students were offered the chance to register for modules that will run from now through the last day of classes.  This short list of five classes brings into clear focus the breadth of the Fletcher curriculum.  From Transitional Justice to Emerging Pathogens, a multidisciplinary approach to international affairs means there will be students for whom each class is the perfect addition to their personal curricula.

Here are the late-semester offerings:

Adapative Leadership and Managerial Communication, Professor Mihir Mankad
Adaptive Leadership and Managerial Communication is a new module course that is intended to sharpen your skills around practical, impactful, and often challenging verbal communication across a range of adaptive leadership and managerial scenarios.  Through your experiences, you will further develop your public speaking and presentation skills, and better understand the concept of adaptive leadership and its communication.  You will also get exposure to both personal and organizational communication case scenarios, including crisis communication.  As with Arts of Communication, this module course should also further your journey to becoming a more persuasive, motivating and effective public speaker and media communicator.

Transitional Justice, Professor Cecile Aptel
This seminar considers the range of processes and mechanisms available to ensure accountability for large-scale human rights violations and achieve reconciliation, including criminal justice, truth and reconciliation commissions, and mechanisms, which incorporate local custom, such as gacaca in Rwanda.  It reviews some of the philosophical, moral and political considerations pertaining to the challenge of reconciliation in these contexts.  This course is taught remotely by the professor.

International Arbitration, Professor Jeswald Salacuse   
This half-credit module explores the nature and application of international arbitration as a method of dispute resolution in international economic and political relations.  A widely used but not generally well-known process, international arbitration is basically a method of dispute settlement that involves the referral of the dispute to an impartial tribunal or panel for a binding decision according to agreed-upon norms, often on the basis of international law. It is applicable to three general types of disputes: 1) disputes between states (interstate arbitration); 2) disputes between states and private parties (e.g. investor-state arbitration); and 3) disputes arising out of international business transactions either between private parties or between private parties and governmental entities (e.g. international commercial arbitration).  This module will examine all three types of international arbitration and will consider their legal basis, their methods of operation, and their potential advantages and disadvantages both for the disputants and the wider international community.  A student’s final evaluation in the course will be based on a paper of not more than 3000 words (65%) and participation in class sessions (35%).  The course is relevant to the academic interests of LLM students, because of its legal component, MIB students, because of arbitration’s key role in the settlement of international business disputes, and MALD students with interests in international conflict resolution.  The course is listed in the fields of Public International Law and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and has no required prerequisites.

Political Economy of the Global Arms Trade, Professor Sam Perlo-Freeman   
The arms industry and trade sits at the intersection of global economics, security, and politics. Access to armaments, whether domestically produced or imported, is necessary for states and armed groups to develop military capability; thus the arms industry and trade is a key instrument of state policy and international relations.  At the same time, the arms industry is an economic enterprise, in most countries a private, profit-seeking one. It depends on general national economic, industrial and technological development, and is often seen—debatably—as an important source of industrialization, jobs, and trade.  But military spending, including arms acquisition, carries an opportunity cost, and how states choose to allocate limited resources between civilian and military priorities is the outcome of numerous economic, political and security factors.

Health, Human Security and Emerging Pathogens, Professor Nahid Bhadelia   
With increasing globalization of trade, travel and terrorism, public and individual human health have become topics of global concern, involving sovereign nations, international organizations and the scientific community.  Threats from emerging infectious diseases outbreaks exemplify this trend.  In contrast to the traditional idea of national security, the field of human security focuses on the individual, rather than state, as the nexus of analysis and takes a multidisciplinary approach through which to analyze the challenges related to community, national and global response to emerging infectious diseases epidemics. This course will start by examining human security literature and practice as it applies to infectious diseases threats.  It will examine factors leading to increasing frequency of outbreaks due to novel pathogens, such as climate change and environmental degradation, and the concept of One Health.  It will then look at the intersection between scientific research and related ethical issues, disease surveillance and global biosecurity issues.  Further, the course will examine the historical basis for International Health Regulations and other frameworks for modern global health governance as they apply to outbreaks.  Lastly, the class will utilize case studies to examine how outbreak preparedness and response have been managed during recent epidemics such as SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola and Zika.  This course is meant to foster interdisciplinary perspectives by bringing together practitioners from international law, human development, public health and clinical care.

 

Every now and then, a student, graduate, or professor asks to provide a blog post.  This past summer, Professor Jeswald Salacuse offered to describe how he came to write his newest bookProfessor Salacuse is Fletcher’s first Tufts Distinguished Professor and Braker Professor of Law, and he teaches and researches on international negotiation, law and development, and international investment law.  Also worth noting — Professor Salacuse was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria in the mid-1960s.  You can also read about him from his Faculty Spotlight profile.

My new book, Real Leaders Negotiate! – Gaining, Using, and Keeping the Power to Lead Through Negotiation, published in August by Palgrave Macmillan, grew out of the disconnect that I saw between standard leadership literature and my own experience as a leader.  Conventional wisdom holds that leaders command to achieve their goals and that the effectiveness of their commands depends on their “vision,” “charisma,” “presence” or other mystical qualities that management scholars may dream up.  Having served as a leader of various organizations over the last thirty-five years, including two graduate schools (one being Fletcher), several professional and academic associations, international tribunals, and corporate boards, little of what I read in the literature seemed to apply to the leadership positions I had held.  What I did in those roles was to negotiate — constantly.  So for me, to lead is to negotiate.

That insight became the basis of my book as I explored the way leaders used negotiation to achieve their goals, both organizational and personal — an exploration that led me to focus on two important facets of leadership: 1) leadership tasks and 2) the leadership lifecycle.  Both require skillful negotiation.

Negotiating Leadership Tasks

Leadership scholars tend to focus on what leaders give to their organizations.  In short, they look at leadership from the supply side.  It is equally, if not more, important to examine leadership from the demand side, to ask what organizations and groups need from their leaders.  Real Leaders Negotiate! concludes that organizations look to their leaders to negotiate the following seven daily tasks of leadership:

  1. Every organization, large and small, needs its leader to help establish its goals.  That does not mean that the leader simply declares a vision for the organization and then commands its members to follow it.  The process of goal setting in a complex organization with diverse members is usually a complicated, lengthy, and elaborate multilateral negotiation that requires skillful coalition building.
  2. All organizations want their leaders to cause their members, each with individual wills and often competing interests, to work for the common good.  Through the art of negotiation, skillful leaders seek to integrate the persons they lead into a single organization, team, or community, an essential requirement for achieving its goals.
  3. Conflict management.  Conflict is inevitable within organizations, and their members look to their leaders to resolve conflicts before they become destructive, a task that requires resorting to negotiation and mediation.
  4. Effective leaders educate, coach, guide, and advise the people they lead and thus give them the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out the jobs of the organization.  Arriving at the right educational process often requires the leader to engage in negotiation.
  5. Organizational members turn to their leaders for motivation and encouragement.  To determine which incentives will best motivate employees, leaders usually engage widely in negotiation throughout the organization.
  6. Leaders are constantly representing the organizations they lead to the outside world, whether they are negotiating a labor contract or attending a reception given by a customer, persuading the company’s board of directors to improve the bonus system, or seeking to arrange a merger with another corporation.  Representation is essentially all negotiation.
  7. Trust creation.  Without the trust of organizational members, a leader will be unable to perform the other leadership tasks effectively and thus to lead.  Leaders can build trust through negotiation, specifically by finding ways to meet other parties’ interests and demonstrating their ability to follow through on their promises.

Negotiating the Leadership Lifecycle

An individual’s leadership has a lifecycle that passes through three phases: birth, life, and ultimately death.  What gives life to leadership is power, a quality that one may define as the ability to influence other persons in desired ways.  The three phases of leadership are about negotiating leadership power.  Phase One is leadership attainment, in which a person negotiates to obtain the power to lead, a phase that concerns not just achieving a desired leadership position on the organization chart but also the necessary leadership role, that is, the ability and resources to carry out the duties of that position in a desired way.  Phase Two is leadership action, in which an individual uses leadership power to advance the interests of the organization, as well as those of the leader.  As we saw, negotiation is fundamental for effective exercise of those leadership powers by accomplishing the necessary leadership tasks.

Phase Three of the leadership lifecycle is leadership preservation and loss.  A leader’s position is never permanent.  As a backbench MP in the House of Commons once shouted out in a debate to unseat the Conservative Party’s leader, “Leadership is a leasehold, not a freehold.”  No matter the circumstances, a person’s leadership always faces challenges and threats.  Sometimes a leader can withstand them; in other instances, he or she must yield leadership powers to another person willingly or only after severe struggle.  In either case, the challenged leader will invariably employ negotiation techniques and strategies to hold on to a leadership position or, when that is not possible, exit leadership under the most advantageous conditions possible.  Every wise leader should know when to stop — good advice not only for leaders, but also for writers of leadership blogs.

 

I shared some news items last Friday, but here’s one that I missed.  Tufts Collaborates is a program to foster collaboration among professors in different (and sometimes far-flung) areas of the university.  For the coming year, Fletcher faculty members will be involved in three of the projects that received seed grant funding.  The projects are:

EduNet: A Low Cost Communication Infrastructure to Improve Education in Developing Countries: Jenny Aker, Fletcher School, and Fahad Dogar, School of Engineering.

Effect of Climate Change on Household Drinking Water Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Avery Cohn, Fletcher School, and Amy Pickering, School of Engineering, with Graham Jeffries from Fletcher (Professor Cohn’s research assistant).

Challenging Conceptions: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation: Kimberly Theidon, Fletcher School, with Dyan Mazurana, Fletcher School and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

 

Our friends who manage the Fletcher Facebook page have put together a collection of books written this year by Fletcher alumni and members of the faculty.  Click on the photo for details on the collection.

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Wrapping up the reading suggestions for summer 2017 is a list from the faculty.  My request to the professors was only that their book picks be interesting or have relevance to the courses they teach, but if they described a selection, I’ve included the explanation.  Where there’s no explanation of the book choice, you can find the theme by looking at the professor’s profile.

Professor Antonia Chayes

Beach Music, by Pat Conroy.  A relaxing novel before the work begins

Professor Michael Glennon

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
The Law of Nations: An Introduction to the International Law of Peace, edited by Sir Claud Humphrey Waldock and James Leslie Brierly
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, by Rebecca Goldstein
The Essential Holmes, edited by Richard A. Posner
“Melian Dialogue,” in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, (translated by Rex Warner)
A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt
West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
Imperium, by Robert Harris
The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, by Thomas Healy
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, by Louis Menand
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
An Imaginary Life, by David Malouf.

Professor Hurst Hannum

While everyone by now should have read Albert Camus’ The Stranger (L’Etranger), it is worth reading again as an introduction to Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, contre-euquete).  The latter, a reprise of Camus from the perspective of the Arab victim in The Stranger, received well-deserved critical praise when it was published in 2015.  While not as profound as Camus, Daoud’s reply is well worth reading and offers both an anti-colonial counterpoint (not innovative, but well done) and an interesting gloss on existence and identity.  It’s probably better to read both in French, if possible, but it’s not necessary to do so.

Professor Jette Steen Knudsen

The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy, by Richard Locke.  This book is the most comprehensive study to date evaluating the impact of company codes of conduct on labor standards in global supply chains.
The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done About It, by David Weil.  This book argues that widening income inequality has more to do with organizational innovations than technological change.
Why Diversity Programs Fail,” Harvard Business Review (2016, July 1), by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev.  This is an easy to read article with a provocative view of diversity programs.
50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark.  If you have not written papers in a long time (or maybe ever) this book contains many helpful insights.

Professor Michele Malvesti

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.

Professor Pearl Robinson (Professor Robinson is primarily affiliated with the Tufts Department of Political Science but also teaches at Fletcher.)
Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa, by Ousman Oumar Kane.  This is one of the best books I’ve read about Africa in the past decade.  I consider it a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the political, religious, and intellectual complexities of the Islamic landscape in contemporary Africa.

Professor Kimberly Theidon

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Professor Phil Uhlmann

In God’s Name: An Investigation Into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, by David Yallop.  This is a tremendous book, regardless of your religious views.  There is much more about banking in this book than you might imagine.  Given the situation in Italy, this is really must reading.
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West, by Edward Rice.  This is an awesome story, it will change you.

Fletcher is not a huge place, and a year when we add four new faculty members is noteworthy.  I can’t do a better job of describing this process and its results than our academic dean, Steven Block, did, and I’m simply going to share the message he sent to the community.

I’m pleased to announce the addition for four new faculty at Fletcher.

Many of you will already have met Monica Toft, who joined us this semester as a Professor of International Politics.  Monica comes to Fletcher from the University of Oxford, where she was Professor of Government and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government.  She has also been a Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College and a Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.  Since receiving her PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago, she has published widely in the areas of ethnic conflict, civil war, and the politics of religion.  In addition to numerous papers in top journals, Monica’s recent books include:  God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics, and Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars.  In addition to her research and teaching in these areas, Monica is establishing and directing the School’s new Center for Strategic Studies.

We have also successfully concluded three faculty searches, the results of which are as follows:

International Criminal and Humanitarian Law

Our new law professor is Tom Dannenbaum.  Tom is currently Lecturer in Human Rights and Director of the MA in Human Rights at University College London.  He has also been a Visiting Lecturer and Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School, where he received his JD in 2010.  In addition, Tom earned his PhD in Politics from Princeton in 2014.  He has published numerous papers in international law journals, and Tom’s book, Why Aggression is a Crime and Why It Matters, is forthcoming on Cambridge University Press in 2017.

Cybersecurity

Susan Landau joins both The Fletcher School and the Tufts Computer Science Department as a bridge professor of cybersecurity.  Susan has extensive experience in both academia and industry as a cybersecurity policy specialist.  She joins us from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is Professor of Cybersecurity Policy, and from University College London, where she is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Computer Science.  Susan has also been a Visiting Scholar in Computer Science at Harvard, and a senior engineer at both Sun Microsystems and Google.  She received her PhD in Computer Science from MIT, and is widely recognized as a leading expert and prize-winning scholar in the area of cybersecurity policy.  Her books include Surveillance or Security?  The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies and Privacy on the Line: the Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption.

History of U.S. Foreign Relations

While we can never truly replace Alan Henrikson, we’ve hired Chris Miller to take on the tradition of teaching the history of U.S. foreign relations in Alan’s place.  Chris joins us from Yale University, where he completed his PhD in History in 2015 and then stayed on as Associate Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy.  Chris’s research focuses on the Russian economy and foreign relations.  His first book, The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy, was published in 2016; his second book, Putinomics: The Price of Power in Russia.  Russia’s Economy from 1999-present, is forthcoming.  I was pleased recently to be able to introduce Chris to Alan, and capture this symbolic passing of the torch.

Credit for the success of these searches goes to Dan Drezner for chairing the history search, Ian Johnstone for chairing the law search, and to Michele Malvesti and Michael Klein for representing Fletcher on the joint cybersecurity search committee.

Cheers,
Steve

 

Returning the spotlight to our faculty, today we’ll feature Professor Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, who graduated from Fletcher in 1992.  Professor Moghalu is Professor of Practice in International Business and Public Policy and currently teaches Emerging Africa in the World Economy.  Also note that Professor Moghalu will be one of the keynote speakers at the TEDGlobal 2017 conference to be held in August in Arusha, Tanzania.

I arrived in Boston from Nigeria in the fall of 1991 as a mid-career student in the Master of Arts program at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.  It was a dream fulfilled: to imbibe interdisciplinary knowledge in international affairs at the fountain of one of the world’s most prestigious institutions in that field.

Today, I am in my second academic year as a professor at The Fletcher School.  As a starry-eyed young man at Fletcher, I had been taught by such larger-than-life professors as then-Dean Jeswald Salacuse, international law professor Hurst Hannum, and diplomacy professor Alan Henrikson.  I could not have guessed that one day, these great minds and I would become colleagues on the Fletcher faculty.

It has been a long road from then to now, but the Fletcher student experience prepared me for every step of the way.  From a 17-year career in the United Nations, straight out of Fletcher, to founding Sogato Strategies, a global risk and strategy advisory firm in Geneva, Switzerland, and to my return to Nigeria in late 2009 after the late Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua appointed me as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

In all these phases, my earlier time at Fletcher prepared me “to know the world.”  At every turn, the depth and blending of the interdisciplinary curriculum — which reflects how the world really works — and the bond between members of the Fletcher community, have proved to be simply superior.

Being both an alumnus and a member of the faculty is a privileged experience.  I teach the course “Emerging Africa in the World Economy” in the Economics and International Business division.  This course focuses on the intersection of business, government, and economic growth in Africa and on the continent’s place in the global economy.  I can connect in a very personal way with the dynamics in the lives of the students I teach and advise, as well as the challenges they face.  As always, the global outlook and diversity of Fletcher students and classes continue to give the institution a unique vibrancy.  Students’ intellectual curiosity is energizing, their insights amazing in ways that have helped me keep an open mind and also learn from them.

My path to becoming a professor at Fletcher began while I was still serving at Nigeria’s reserve bank.  The School’s Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC), headed by Professor Bhaskar Chakravorti, had invited me on two occasions to speak at Fletcher and then at the Inclusive Business Summit IBGC organized with Mastercard in Bellagio, Italy.  A conversation began with Bhaskar and with Ian Johnstone, Professor of International Law and Academic Dean at the time (and, full disclosure: a friend since our time as rising young officers in the UN headquarters in New York in the early 1990s), about the possibility of joining the Fletcher School faculty when I completed my five-year tenure at the Nigerian Central Bank.

The inspirational warrior-scholar and Dean of The Fletcher School, Admiral (Dr.) James Stavridis made the decision to bring me on board and offered me a faculty appointment after I completed my national service in Nigeria.  Fletcher is fortunate to be led by this remarkable alumnus who previously served meritoriously as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

The Fletcher School increasingly recognizes Africa’s role in the world as a place of promise and opportunity.  It has also made developing teaching and research on the continent part of its latest strategic plan.  I know that Fletcher students are increasingly interested in this part of the world, and I support them in their belief that the School should develop courses and faculty on Africa in a sustainable manner.

Twenty-six years ago, I was awarded the Joan Gillespie Fellowship for individuals from developing countries who have the potential for future leadership.  I had been recommended by a distinguished Fletcher alumnus, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria.  Little would I have known that my path afterwards would lead me not just around the world and back to my country, Nigeria, but also back again to The Fletcher School as a professor on its faculty.  The uniqueness of this very “Fletchered” path has been one of my most profound pleasures.

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Today I’m happy to turn back to the Faculty Spotlight feature.  Professor Robert Pfaltzgraff is the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School and President of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, a research organization based in Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC.  Professor Pfaltzgraff currently teaches International Relations: Theory and Practice and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies.  He also teaches the Security Studies course for Fletcher’s Global Master of Arts Program.

Because Fletcher encompasses the world of the theorist and the policymaker, the scholar and the practitioner, it is an ideal setting to bring the academic into sharper focus with the policy community and vice versa.  This is what has always shaped both my teaching at The Fletcher School and my work directly with the policy community as President of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis.  We learn from the insights, wisdom, and experience of others and from our own successes and failures — from observing and from doing.  Both Fletcher and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis have given me great and unique opportunities in both communities to share with students and others.

pfaltzgraff-classroomAt Fletcher my teaching spans the Political Systems and Theories and International Security Studies fields.  My International Relations Theory course challenges students not only to understand the theories themselves but also to relate them to the world of today.  Through the lens of theory we may gain perspectives or ways of understanding, analyzing, and simply thinking about the policy issues and choices of the day, related to fundamentally important topics such as international conflict and cooperation, as well as war and peace.

My teaching in the International Securities Studies field is also designed to bridge theory and practice.  My Crisis Management seminar addresses such topics as the twenty-first-century crisis map contrasted with previous eras, including the Cold War, as well as the role of military force and diplomacy, to mention only several of the major topics that we study.  There is an extensive literature about crisis escalation, decision-making, strategizing, and lessons learned from past crises that we survey.  In addition to team presentations, we conduct an annual weekend crisis simulation that brings together up to 200 outside participants and other members of the Fletcher community.  This provides a great opportunity to test and fine-tune what we have (or should have) learned in class about how to manage international crises.  Here we have an opportunity to learn on the job, so to speak — to develop skills and ways of thinking that could be useful to the future crisis decision-makers that many of our students will become.  In this and other International Securities Studies activities, we draw heavily on practitioners and others from the military and policy communities both from outside Fletcher and our students, who, I should add, bring a rich set of experiences and backgrounds and therefore learn from each other.

There has also been a two-way street, a synergistic relationship, between my work at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and my Fletcher teaching experience.  Our many Institute conferences, seminars, and workshops, together with research on such topics as escalation, proliferation, military force structures, strategy, alliance relationships, technological innovation and military affairs, and regional security issues from NATO-Europe to the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific area have given me a wealth of information, insights, and greater understanding to share with my classes and others in the academic and policy communities.  By the same token, I have always learned much from my students, many of whom have achieved positions of senior political and military leadership in the United States and abroad.

My bottom line is that I know of no better educational setting than Fletcher in which to bring together the worlds of theory and practice — to learn how to think and to act, understanding of course that creative thought is the necessary prerequisite to successful action in and among all of the fields of our multidisciplinary curriculum.

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