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Throughout the years, I’ve asked Fletcher professors to contribute to the blog in many, mostly minor, ways. For example, they’ve provided reading recommendations, both books related to their classes and, occasionally, lighter selections. They’ve also been good sports when we have cornered them in the Hall of Flags. And other times, without asking them to put in any effort, I’ve written about their work.
Last November, I contacted faculty members with a request — an assignment, if we’re being honest about it. I asked them to write a short post on one of several topics designed to tell readers more about the professors’ interests. Those who have written so far have done exactly what I would have hoped, which is to approach the topics from many different angles. I have the first of the posts, by Prof. Michael Klein, set to run tomorrow, and I’ll plan one or two each week through the next few months. I hope you’ll agree that, added together, the new series shines the spotlight on a diverse and interesting collection of people.
Tagged with: Faculty Spotlight
This information can be found in all the usual Fletcher news places but, for those of you who read the blog but don’t Tweet or check Facebook, earlier this morning we received this interesting announcement:
Mohamed ElBaradei to Join Tufts Fletcher School as Nobel-Laureate-in-Residence
Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general emeritus of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and co-recipient of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize with the IAEA for his efforts “to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way,” will join The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University as Nobel-Laureate-in-Residence in fall 2014.
“The entire Fletcher and Tufts community is proud to welcome Dr. ElBaradei, a courageous leader and powerful advocate for international peace and security,” said Admiral James Stavridis, the 12th dean of The Fletcher School. “In my former capacity as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, I attended many conferences and meetings with Dr. ElBaradei. He is such an important diplomatic figure, and we are thrilled to have him with us next fall.”
Academic Dean and Professor of International Law Ian Johnstone added, “Our faculty and students will benefit greatly from the lessons of his 50-year career as a scholar, diplomat, public servant, and statesman.”
As Nobel-Laureate-in-Residence, ElBaradei will focus on a range of co-curricular activities, drawing on his experience as head of the IAEA as well as the critical role he played in Egypt through the recent years of political turmoil. An expert on international law and organizations, non–proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, ElBaradei has been at the center of efforts to address the nuclear crises in Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. He will engage with students and faculty in public lectures and smaller, private events at The Fletcher School as well as other schools within Tufts University.
ElBaradei served three terms as director general of the IAEA from December 1997 until November 2009, when he was appointed director general emeritus. He had been an IAEA staff member since 1984, holding a number of high-level policy positions, including that of legal adviser and subsequently assistant director general for external relations.
After leaving the IAEA, ElBaradei became involved in Egyptian politics and was seen as a potential leader of the transitional government after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. In 2012, he was set to stand as a candidate in the presidential elections, but withdrew his bid in January of that year in the absence of an agreed upon constitution. He was named interim vice president in July 2013, but resigned in protest a month later when security forces moved in to clear two protest camps in the capital, Cairo.
ElBaradei began his career in the Egyptian Diplomatic Service in 1964, serving in the Permanent Missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and Geneva. Subsequently, he served as a special assistant to the foreign minister of Egypt (1974 to1978), and he was a member of the negotiating team that led to the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
“I’m delighted and honored to be part of Fletcher, one of the top schools in international affairs. At a time when we are facing the chaos and complexity of an increasingly interconnected world, sound management of international affairs has become key to our global wellbeing. I look forward to what I’m sure will be a most stimulating intellectual interaction with a superb faculty and student body under the inspiring leadership of Dean Stavridis,” ElBaradei said.
I love Fletcher couples! So I was thrilled to hear about a wedding of two 2012 graduates with a special twist. Megan and Sebastián didn’t meet at Fletcher — they knew each other before, and applied to grad school hoping they would end up in the same place. I conducted Megan’s evaluative interview and, as I told her just before her graduation, it’s one that stands out in my mind, if only for the wonderful thank-you note she sent, complete with a map of the Dominican Republic (where she was working) and Haiti.
It wasn’t until I featured Fletcher Fútbol in the blog that I connected with Sebastián, but I very much enjoyed my interactions with him about a fun activity that had captured the attention of the entire community.
Naturally, when I heard about the wedding, I reached out to Sebastián, and asked for photos. He graciously sent several along. Don’t they look happy?
Sebastián called the wedding their “Hippy Celebration of Love,” and it took place in August at a lighthouse, in Oak Bluffs, MA.
But here’s the best part. The wedding was officiated over by Prof. John Hammock, who Sebastián said had “been a mentor for Megan before Fletcher, and I had the pleasure to take his class and receive his advice while in grad school.”
I don’t know if this is the first time a member of the faculty has conducted a wedding for two alumni, but I know it’s the first time I’ve ever heard about it. One of the best ever Fletcher weddings!
For the final entry in this series of posts listing suggested reading, I’m not going to try to create an underlying theme. Here is a diverse mix of theoretical and practical works.
Prof. John Burgess — who teaches Fletcher courses on international mergers and acquisitions and international finance, in addition to his day job at a Boston law firm — recommends, “Benn Steil’s The Battle of Bretton Woods, which deftly combines geopolitics, economic theory and practice, and personalities to describe the history of the Bretton Woods Conference and its implications for the post-war world. A great combination of diplomatic history, biography and analysis.”
Prof. Jes Salacuse told me, “One recent book that might be of interest is Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty.”
Prof. Bill Martel suggests, “One work I assign in my Decision Making and Public Policy and my Evolution of Grand Strategy, which incoming students would benefit from reading, is Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide.”
Two professors who followed my instruction to include their own recent work among their suggestions are Prof. Joel Trachtman, who recently published The Future of International Law: Global Government, and Prof. James Forest, who noted that his The Terrorism Lectures, is “good prep for my Modern Terrorism and Counterterrorism class, and an inexpensive book as well.”
A suggestion from Prof. Leila Fawaz came with an apology that she wasn’t supplying more suggestions. She told me to point readers “back to an old but reliable one, Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples.”
Prof. Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church said that “anyone interested in the NGO sector and donors to it” should read Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta, which will connect to NGO Management and to her DME module series.
And, finally, because Fletcher students will all, ultimately, need to go beyond reading and do some writing themselves, Prof. John Perry suggests, Jacques Barzun, Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers.
Happy reading (and writing) everyone!
Continuing the reading list theme, I would nonetheless be remiss if I didn’t first tell you about the beautiful late spring day we’re experiencing today. The sky is completely cloud free — so beautiful I couldn’t resist snapping a photo. See for yourself:
If I weren’t at work, it would be a perfect day to grab a book and read. Before I go ahead and list more suggestions for your summer reading, I want to take a step back and provide a more complete explanation of why I’m including the faculty book picks in the first place. I generally try not to post information that is relevant only to one subset of blog readers, and the blog is not, in fact, the most efficient way for us to reach incoming students. But some of the people who will be joining us for Orientation in August check the blog, and some of those are interested in a little pre-Fletcher reading. And if you’re not an incoming student this year? Well, you may still want to read something recommended by our professors. So back to the list.
Today’s amazing list comes from a single source. Prof. Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the research director for the World Peace Foundation, offered up at least a season’s worth of options, explaining, “Given that we’re talking about summer reading, I’ll do my best to keep it to the more narrative-focused texts. Granted, many of these are atrocity focused.” Even those who may never interact with the WPF might want to read about these still-relevant international events. Here’s the list:
Chinua Achebe, Girls at War (short stories, Nigerian civil war)
Deborah Scroggins, Emma’s War (non-fiction, Sudan)
Sven Lindquist, Exterminate All the Brutes (non-fiction, colonial Africa)
Kang Chol-Hwan, The Aquariums of Pyongyang (non-fiction, North Korea)
Jason Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters (non-fiction, DRC)
Sheri Fink, War Hospital (non-fiction, Bosnia)
Clea Koff, The Bone Woman (non-fiction, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo)
Semezdin Mehmedinovic, Sarajevo Blues (poetry, Bosnia)
Aleksander Hemon, The Question of Bruno (short stories, former Yugoslavia)
Courtney Angela Brkic, The Stone Fields (fiction, Bosnia)
Anything by Slavenka Drakulic (fiction & non-fiction, Croatia)
Bob Shacochis, The Immaculate Invasion (non-fiction, Haiti)
James Dawes, That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity (non-fiction, human rights)
Wade Davis, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest (history, UK, WWI and, obviously, Mt. Everest).
And for anyone who can handle theory by the beach: Judith Butler, Frames of War and Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (these two are best read together), and just about anything by Hannah Arendt or Jacques Rancière.
As promised, I’m ready today to start a series of posts with suggested materials that an incoming student might want to read. I emphasize “might” because you are not under any obligation to read anything! Still, to get your intellectual juices flowing, you might want to check out a few of the professors’ picks.
I’ll start with the request I sent to the faculty. I pointed them toward past reading lists that can be found in the blog archives (which is a good resource for current readers, as well) and then I asked them to send a suggestion that would fit one of these descriptions.
- A book that you assign for your class and that incoming students might benefit from reading at a leisurely pace in the summer;
- A book that provides good contextual explanation of your field;
- Fiction or popular non-fiction that provides context for your field;
- Articles or blogs that incoming students may not already know about;
- A newly published book of your own that provides general context.
I hope that sharing my request to the professors will make it clear why their suggested books/articles/blogs take many forms. This post will kick off the lists with a couple of picks for the economics folks (actual or aspiring) out there. First, Prof. Michael Klein recommends After the Music Stopped by Alan Blinder, which he thinks is the best book on the economic crisis, and which relates to his classes on International Finance and Finance, Growth and Business Cycles.
For general background, Prof. Dan Richards (whose primary position is in the Economics Department, but who also teaches at Fletcher) says, “They’re both a little older, but either Freakonomics or SuperFreakonomics are still good reads that give a decent presentation of how economists approach problems — if not always the answers that all economists agree on. There is also the Freakonomics blog.”
Read these choices or not, blog friends — it’s totally up to you. More reading suggestions will be coming soon!
Although this video is some months old, it only recently found its way to me. It shows Fletcher Professor Louis Aucoin pursuing his current work as the United Nations Deputy Special Representative for Liberia. Prof. Aucoin has been on leave for two semesters, but is planning to return to Fletcher at the conclusion of his UN work. The video presents a special example of how professors’ (and, for that matter, students’) professional and academic experiences come together.
Tagged with: LLM
Yesterday, Prof. Leila Fawaz shared with the community a piece she had written about Monday’s presidential debate. One paragraph seemed particularly relevant to our professional school of international affairs. She wrote, “Happily for us, the United States possesses a deep reservoir of foreign experts and diplomats who have spent their life studying a region, issue, or people.” She goes on to conclude that, “No matter who wins this election, my hope therefore is that the United States in 2013 draws upon its unprecedented expertise and contacts to construct a strong foreign policy of consistency and empathy. Such a policy, surely, might well win the support of ordinary people the world over, tired of the ravages of war and the brutality of bombs.”
You can read more of Prof. Fawaz’s comments, along with other thoughts on the election from her fellow historians, on the American Historical Association’s Perspectives Online site. (Scroll down to the Election 2012 special.)
A member of the faculty recently sent around a note pointing us toward this Washington Post technology column that describes work done by a Fletcher student during his summer internship. The student (Josh Rogers) wrote his thesis under Prof. Salacuse’s supervision. I thought blog readers might want to see this record of a summer internship’s interesting and valuable result.
Tagged with: Internships
The Fletcher faculty has made some changes to what used to be the thesis requirement for all degree programs. Going forward, the requirement will be for the production of a capstone project. For some students (and their professors), this represents no change whatsoever. They arrived at Fletcher looking forward to writing a traditional academic thesis, and that’s what they’re going to do. For other students, this marks a welcome change. In some fields, a thesis is not the project format that best lends itself to the presentation of two year’s worth of learning. Here’s a little of the email Academic Dean Peter Uvin sent to students to explain the change. (Note that this was an email sent directly to students, not an official document, hence the casual language.) He starts by saying that, in fact, little (beyond the name of the project) has changed.
First, all degree programs always had to write a thesis, which was understood to be a traditional research project. Now we are changing that title a bit (“capstone project”) and we are giving students more flexibility in terms of their final academic piece of work. Over the years, many students have found the research thesis a very useful and rewarding experience, and they can continue to do this with all the professors at Fletcher. But other students have felt that a thesis was not a particularly useful exercise, given what they would be doing after Fletcher. We now officially allow for a broader range of choices to accommodate those students.
Second, students used to develop their thesis topics in many different ways, and this will also continue, though we will be more explicit about the need to associate the thesis writing with a course credit. Here are the choices for how a capstone project can be developed:
◊ Students can continue to build their capstone project off a course paper;
◊ A number of professors have decided that their courses are set up in such a way that their required final product is really an excellent preparation for the capstone project. This may be because they offer a lot of methodology, or because they require a product that is very labor intensive, or because they help students develop research proposals, etc. Those classes will now be called “incubator courses.” Students are not obliged to take incubator courses for their capstone projects; it is simply an option. Also: you can take these courses even if you do not want to write your capstone project through them!
◊ Students can also continue to use an independent study in order to write their capstone project.
◊ Often professors look for student assistance with research projects. The innovation here is that we encourage professors and students who work together in this way to use that work as the basis for the capstone project.
This is all new and a work in progress. It is important to have clear discussions with your capstone supervisors to understand exactly what s/he will be looking for. Some are going to be traditional and only want an academic thesis, whereas others are thrilled to be able to accept something else. Some see their courses as incubators, whereas others do not. Just talk to them. It will all work out. This is designed to make life more flexible and easier—not more stressful!
Our current second-year students will be the pioneers for the Capstone Projects, and I look forward to hearing about some innovative project formats.
Tagged with: thesis
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