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The Hall of Flags is Fletcher’s town square.  Everyone passes through here at some point in the day.  Yesterday, to capture a little of the atmosphere, Jeff (my partner in on-location blogging) and I parked ourselves at a table (which we reserved, as if this were a restaurant), equipped with my laptop and a basic camera, and waited to see who came by.  We made a slight miscalculation, having chosen a time when traffic was light, but the upside was that we had a chance to chat with everyone who visited the table.

When we set up camp, two students, Vanessa and Jon, were already in place at their own (better decorated) table.  They’re raising funds for their participation in the Tufts Marathon Challenge.  Jon is from New Orleans, so (in keeping with the season), they put out some plastic babies and called it King Cake.  The cake, fortunately, looked better than the handwritten sign.

After chatting with Vanessa and Jon, we looked to see who else was around.  Jamie, one of our volunteer interviewers from last fall, greets blog readers from the balcony.

Mollie (also an Admissions volunteer), Adam, and Khanh from Fletcher Students in Security were planning a reception that will take place during the DC Career Trip in a few weeks.

Bilal stopped by on his way to this week’s event in the “Denial and Deception” lunch/lecture series (organized by the Security Studies program), on practices and best practices throughout the intelligence community.  He insisted that I should be in the photo.

Nick walked through while doing his work.  We always enjoy chatting with him when he helps us out by keeping the office in order.  He has also brought new life to one of the Admissions Office plants.

Shinhee (yet another Admissions volunteer) stopped by on her way from Prof. Babbitt’s office to an accounting class.  Jeff told Shinhee (a musician) she should have brought her violin so that she could play for us.  Next time!

My Fletcher Futbol friend Sebastian picked up a piece of cake.  He was on his way to meet up with a student who had worked at an NGO he’s interested in.

Summer is also on her way to the “Denial and Deception” lunch/lecture.  She’s looking spiffy for the special event.

Dan, Fletcher’s IT guru, was talking IT with Kevin, the face of the Hall.  (Kevin would have been able to tell us when the HoF is at its busiest.  Mental note to check in with him before we plan another on-location blog.)

Matt, also on the way to the lunch/lecture, stopped by.  (Gonna be a busy luncheon!)  Matt’s a PhD candidate who’s working in Oslo for the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs as a visiting research fellow.  He’s on campus now to put the finishing touches on his formal dissertation proposal about organized crime and state security in West Africa (while working remotely for the Institute).  Matt moved on to the PhD program from the MALD (like most of our PhD students).  He has clocked many hours in the HoF, generally toting a coffee mug.

Morgan is on his way to accounting class, carrying the lunch that was lovingly prepared by his wife (complete with special notes).  The word is that Morgan has the BEST lunches (and sometimes dinners) in that little cooler.  Jeff and I are totally jealous!

Vanessa and Jon packed up their table.  Why?  The “Denial and Deception” lunch/lecture, of course.  Vanessa says she can’t be late.  The lecture runs on military time.

Tomo came out of his microfinance class where there were two guests from Spain.  He’s off to have lunch with them.

Geoffrey was here to kick off the marketing of the Tufts Energy Conference — mailing cards to speakers from past years.  The conference is coming up in April.

Vickie, Carolyn, Rachael, Naomi, Winnie, and Shuvam met up at the elevator.  (They’re all in the photo, but not necessarily easy to find.)

Lily just came out of her class, and is chatting with Emily while waiting for others.  She’s going to join Tomo for lunch with the microfinanciers from Spain.

Food for the “Denial and Deception” lunch!  (Delivered with a smile by Dan from Dave’s Fresh Pasta, a Davis Square eatery that is a favorite source of food around here.)

Brand new Januarian Alessandra and soon-to-graduate second-year Charlie, were also coming from the microfinance class.  This time I think to ask which class it is.  The answer:  Microfinance and Inclusive Commerce with Prof. Kim Wilson.  Then, along comes Prof. Wilson.  Jeff convinces her to join the photo.  (Love Prof. Wilson’s red shoes!)

Kristen avoids the paparazzi on her way to the Tufts Educational Day Care Center for an appointment.  (Fingers crossed that there will be space for little Lucia in the day care in September!)  More relevant to Fletcher, Kristen was coming out of a discussion of the launch of a new initiative to offer conference calls with recent alums, during which current students can ask about job search tactics in particular industries or locations.  The first conference call will be with a 2011 MIB alum and former Admissions intern, who will describe the process that landed him with a job in Brazil.

Once we let Kristen go, we noticed a crowd of people waiting for the elevator.  More people from the microfinance class, including the Spanish visitors.  They were very gracious in allowing Jeff to snap a couple of photos, and we learned they’re from ACAF in Barcelona.

Hanging out in the Hall of Flags was a fun way to connect with people we don’t see as often as we’d like, not to mention a real treat during this busy time of year for Admissions.  After our allotted 45 minutes, Jeff and I packed up and went back to the office.  We’re going to do this again, though.  Next time, we’ll try for live blogging.  Stay tuned!

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Dean Uvin invited feedback on his Top 10 of 2011 list, and students didn’t hold back.  I’ve snatched as many comments off the Social List as I could reasonably fit in the blog but, fortunately, a plugged-in student, Michael, solved my space problem by creating a scholarly archive of the suggestions for this year and 2010, saying:

For your studying convenience, I’ve compiled the albums and songs recommended by Dean Uvin and fellow students into a single public Spotify playlist: Fletcher Music 2011: The Groovin’ Uvin Project (http://open.spotify.com/user/grahamagp/playlist/29o96Vbw2BQLb3vFBPwyuj).  Last year’s recommendations are in a second playlist, Fletcher Music 2010: Before the ‘Stache (http://open.spotify.com/user/grahamagp/playlist/29o96Vbw2BQLb3vFBPwyuj).

Blog readers, please check out the Spotify lists for the two scholarly works.  (I included the url as I’ve had inconsistent success in opening the lists from a link.  Plug the address into the Spotify search box.)  But, because you might want to know what comments accompanied the choices, I’ve compiled a few.  Here (with my apologies if I missed typos in unfamiliar album titles) are the students’ contributions to the listening pleasure of the community, with a little marker (~~~~~~) to indicate a change from one student to the next.

~~~~~~

This was my favorite thread last year and my favorite again (albeit I still think too early — there’s a whole month left).  With that said…Here are my top 10:
1. Girls — Father, Son, Holy Ghost
2. Youth Lagoon — The Year of Hibernation
3. The Weekend — House of Balloons/Thursday
4. James Blake — James Blake
5. St. Vincent — Strange Mercy
6. Drake — Take Care
7. Tune-Yards — WHOKILL
8. Los Campesinos — Hello Sadness
9. M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
10. The Antlers — Burst Apart
If I were to include reissues: The Rolling Stones — Some Girls reissue is awesome, but the Beach Boys — Smile Sessions is mind blowingly awesome. The outtakes for “Heroes and Villains” are amazing on their own.
~~~~~~

Raphael Saadiq — Stone Rollin’.  For those vintage soul fans:
M83 — Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.  Sweet electropop with great melodies.
Jay-Z and Kanye West — Watch the Throne.  The best of the two best in hip hop.
Kurt Vile — Smoke Ring For My Halo.  Guitar driven rawk a la Burce Springsteen or Jeff Buckley (but more clever).
Fleet Foxes — Helplessness Blues.  Gorgeous, accoustic-inspired indie rock and complex harmonies.
Lykke Li — Wounded Rhymes.  Ephemeral Swedish pop that was the soundtrack to my summer.
~~~~~~

Assuming the role of Debbie Downer, I have to say I found it to be a really disappointing year musically.  More and more bands sound the same and like too many other bands that came before them — like rock/pop music’s death by entropy.  In some cases, it can work really well (such as M83 shamelessly channeling the 80s) but in most cases it just sounds boring and samey.  Which leads to my thesis:  “Has rock/pop music exhausted itself as a genre and done everything it can do?”  I’m pretty sure I could get Dean Uvin to sign on as a thesis adviser.
~~~~~~

Holy Ghost! — Holy Ghost! For those of you into the indie dance genre… Fun, smart, hip disco groove full-length album from two New York guys on DFA (the label of LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair, Hot Chip…).

Brigitte — Et vous, tu m’aimes? The album is a standout — ranging from pop ditty to cover of a rap song to country inspired to a finale of a gospel song turned upside down called “Jesus sex symbol.”  Listening will help you with your language exam!
~~~~~~

Feist — Metals. Music on this album hovers around the intersection of indie and alt country, a good place for her, and one which she inhabits beautifully. It is such a mature album; I love it.
~~~~~~

The Weekend — House of Balloons. Dark and brooding genre-bending debut from a 20-year old Toronto kid. Blew up after a tweet from Drake. Download for free on his website and become one with your morose self.

Tune-Yards — W H O K I L L. Lo-fi eclectic sonic collage. Merrill Garbus rocks and did this whole album on her own. This will give you an idea.
~~~~~~

I would be oh so sad if Florence and The Machine’s new album Ceremonials wasn’t in the running. That girl has some piiiiiiiipes. It’s the perfect mix of gut wrenching, rock it out, go-out-there-and-win-this-thing inspiration.  AND Beriut’s The Rip Tide album. Love the vibrato of his voice and the horn harmonies are fantastic.
~~~~~~

Dean Uvin. Once again making sure we learn the important things.
~~~~~~

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By the time I sat down to breakfast yesterday, I had already heard Fletcher Dean Stephen Bosworth speak at length on the radio about the death of Kim Jong Il.  His first morning interview was followed by an hour on our local NPR station, interviews with The Boston Globe, The Financial Times, Bloomberg News, other NPR shows, our local CBS affiliate, as well as the Tufts web site.   Content from those interviews turned up in blogs and foreign media.  Dean Bosworth recently stepped down as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy and previously served as ambassador to the Republic of Korea.  With no official government role at this time, he is freer to offer his opinions on events on the Korean Peninsula.

 

Recently, Academic Dean Peter Uvin sent an urgent message to the student community.  The content will be of concern to anyone who shares his intellectual interests.

Dear Students,

The Arab Spring. The Belgian Greek debt crisis. IMF director Lagarde asking Latin American countries for money to help Europe get out of the debt crisis. The coffee at Mugar Café. All worthwhile issues of debate. And yet, they passed by me unnoticed. My mind was on a far more important task:  the production of my annual Top-10 Music List for the year 2011. This is just one of the things an Academic Dean must do, and do well. I hereby share the results of this major research project, which took me hundreds of hours of listening and reflecting. Obviously, I cannot imagine that anyone could improve on this fine work, but in the spirit of free inquiry and frank debate, I do welcome all feedback.

Best wishes,
Peter Uvin
Academic Dean and Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies
Director, Institute for Human Security
The Fletcher School |  Tufts University

And so, dear blog readers, I share with you the results of Dean Uvin’s research.  Next week, I will collect the student feedback.  Meanwhile, please feel free to offer your own choices in the comment section below.

Dean Uvin’s Ten Best Albums of 2011

Kiran Ahluwalia — Aam Zameen: Common Ground. Indian neo-traditional  music, phenomenally produced, with a stunning voice. The first song, a remake of a famous song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is done with Mali’s Tinariwen—it gives new meaning to the term “world music.” A great album.

AA Bondy — Believers. Very sad, haunting, dark, slow album, gorgeously sung and played. Stunning.

Anna Calvi — Anna Calvi. She sounds like a copy of Siouxsee and the Banshees, but what a voice, what guitar playing, what power. I can’t wait for more from her.

Bon Iver — Bon Iver. I was, frankly, not so blown away by his To Emma CD as everyone else seemingly was,  but this one is amazing. I know I will still listen to it 20 years from now. A true classic.

Michael Gordon — Timber. Rather different, and probably not to listen to while having a conversation in your car. But this is brilliant work of so-called contemporary classical music, mesmerizing if you are in the right mood, boundary shifting and refreshing.

Grouplove — Never Trust a Happy Song. Clearly a misnomer, for these are some of the happiest songs around. Not since Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes have I heard an album so unashamedly feel-good. I know I will probably get sick of it at some point (especially if advertisers keep on picking it up), but this is just a great smile-on-your-face-provoking record.

Amy LaVere — Stranger Me. I admit it: I am a country fan. I listen to a lot of it, although not so much to what plays on the radio. This is definitely a country-rock album, but she does come from a real country background. (Her previous excellent album showcases that.) Fun texts, good melodies, and a beautifully fragile-yet-strong voice.

Radiohead — King of Limbs. I am almost ashamed to put it here, because it is so obvious. But it needs to be said: Radiohead made, once again, a phenomenal album. Nobody comes close to these guys—they are the defining band of their generation.

TV on the Radio — Nine Types of Light. This is, once again, a very good album of a very good band, maybe the best band in this country at this time. They continue to innovate with power, rhythm, and voice. I love this.

Robag Wruhme — Thora Vukk. I listened to a lot of electronic music this year. The competition was between three Germans (what’s new?) — Robag Wruhme, Apparat, and Pantha du Prince.  Robag won. I think this record is a little masterpiece, and a true record, with a flow from beginning to end. At the end of the year, Oneohtrix River Never came to muddy the water, almost making it to first position in the electronic category, but I decided to stay with my German roots.

Runner Ups
Enrico Rava — Tribe. Always a gorgeous jazz musician–albeit, in my opinion, of the more background music type–this CD, like so many others of this Italian jazz master, is truly a beauty. Everyone who hears this cannot but fall under its spell.

Son Lux — We are Rising.  His At War with Walls and Mazes is one of the five best albums of the entire 2000s, and this one is good too, albeit less so. The problem is: I had too high expectations. It just fell out of the prizes for the year.

Wye Oak — Civilian. Gorgeous, as are all their albums.  A bit more rhythm, maybe, but still so ethereal, so beautiful, so sensual.

 

This is probably my favorite Fletcher photo.  Long-time professor John Roche was an adviser to President John Kennedy.  I was very fond of Prof. Roche when we worked together until his retirement, and the photo provides a window into his life well before we met.

Interested in other historical photos of Fletcher?  You can search for them in the Tufts Digital Library.

 

Here’s something we think is pretty cool.  As a way of capturing the complex questions that are frequently discussed at Fletcher, both inside the classroom and out, the business program is putting together a series of interviews between Bhaskar Chakravorti (our dean for business programs) and Fletcher business professors.  New interviews will be posted each week, but the first three are available now.  Rather than grasping for a way to summarize the interviews, I’ll just share the MIB program’s description:

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All of a sudden, a little Fletcher news.

First (and you may already know about this if you follow The Fletcher School or Fletcher Admissions on facebook), we find out about Dean Bosworth’s week:  he’s meeting with a North Korean government minister in New York.  Nuclear arms and food aid will, according to news reports, be on the agenda.  That will make for an awesome “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay, should anyone ask Dean Bosworth to write one.

Next, I was listening to the radio the other day and heard Fletcher alum Elliot Ackerman (class of 2003) discuss the goal of his organization, Americans Elect, to create a new nominating process that would give candidates outside of the usual two political parties a chance to compete in national elections.  Elliot is Americans Elect’s chief operating officer.

Finally, something of personal interest to me.  This afternoon, Fletcher will host a live broadcast of the BBC’s World Have Your Say.  The show will feature 100 young women, ages 15-19, from around the world.  My daughter, Kayla, is one of those young women!  She’s participating all week in Women2Women, and it was quite a surprise to hear she’d be visiting my workplace (along with 99 new friends and a BBC crew).  The word we’ve received is that all of this is taking place from 1:00 to 3:00 local time (which is GMT-4), and the BBC web site confirms that the show is broadcast at 1700 GMT.  I hope you’ll join me in tuning in!

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Returning to the subject of two weeks ago, pre-Fletcher preparatory summer reading, I thought I’d point you toward a few of the professors’ own works.

Among recent books and articles are:

Prof. Jacque‘s, Global Derivative Debacles:  From Theory to Malpractice.  He assures us that, “It is written for a broad audience and not overly technical.”

Prof. Martel‘s, Victory in War.  Note that this is a revision of the book, originally published in 2007.  (And significantly revised, from what I hear from Prof. Chayes, who made sure her colleague received due recognition.)

Prof. Salacuse sent me several links.  First there’s his new book, The Law of Investment Treaties.  And then there are two articles:  “The Emerging Global Regime for Investment,” in the Harvard International Law Journal, and “Opening Moves – They Can Make or Break Any Deal,” in Tufts Magazine.

And Prof. Forest (visiting Fletcher this past year) points us toward his new book:  Influence Warfare.

This is only a small sampling — whatever crossed my email at the end of the semester — but you can find a more complete list of student and faculty publications in the News and Media section of the Fletcher website.

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It’s a hot day around here — a good one for thinking about summer reading, even though spending a day with a book isn’t on the Admissions Office agenda.  For blog readers, the first suggestion list-within-a-list for today comes from Prof. Hess, who’s got you covered if you may be taking his DHP D260 or D267 class this September.  Prof. Hess suggests:

Jihad in Saudi Arabia:  Violence and Pan-Islamism since 1979, by Thomas Hegghammer 
The Long Divergence:  How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East
, by Timur Kuran 
The Iran Primer:  Power, Politics, and U.S. Policy
, by Robin Wright 
Afghanistan:  A Cultural and Political History
, by Thomas Barfield 
A World Without Islam
, by Graham E. Fuller 
How Capitalism Was Built:  The Transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia
, by Anders Aslund 
Black Garden:  Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War
, by Thomas de Waal

In response to my request, Prof. Perry told me the first book that came to mind is Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, which he said is, “appropriate for Fletcher because it is cross-disciplinary — an anthropologist takes up an historical subject — and because it is jargon-free, a relief from so much that students must read.”

Finally (for today), Prof. Chayes keeps her recommendation in the family, by “heartily” recommending The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, by Sarah Chayes.  She notes that, “It has been much used by military and civilians alike in Afghanistan.”  And then Prof. Chayes offers an antidote for all this serious reading — a fiction selection:   Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel.  “Fascinating on the intrigues of government in the era of Henry VIII — much has not changed!”

Next week, I’ll point you toward some new work by the professors themselves.

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In an annual ritual, a few weeks ago I asked the Fletcher faculty to recommend books for those who may want to pack a little preparatory reading into their pre-Fletcher summer.  There’s really no obligation to cast aside your beach-worthy paperbacks!  But, for those who want to feel more firmly on the grad school train, I’m happy to pass along some picks from the professors.

I’ll start with Prof. Uvin, who always comes through with some out-of-the-box choices.  He wrote:

The best books I have read this year are Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (a novel of the Vietnam War that brings war to life in a direct way I have never read before) and K Blows Top by Peter Carlson (a hysterically funny non-fiction book of Khrushchev’s visit to the U.S. in 1959 — pure Vonnegut, but all real!).  I am currently reading The Information by James Gleick, which is a stunningly ambitious, well-written and interesting book so far.  I am drowning in information already, and yet this book is a true pleasure in getting me to think differently about the flood I am in….

Next, even before I asked the professors, students were asking, and I happened to see the response of Prof. Fawaz to an inquiry about books on Syria’s politics, foreign policy, or history.  (Timely reading for any of us right now.)  Rather than provide a limited book list, Prof. Fawaz pointed the student toward several authors:  Abdul-Karim Rafeq, Hanna Batatu, Patrick Seale, Raymond Hinnebusch, and Steve Heydeman.

And, in response to my request, Prof. Blackhurst (who teaches in Fletcher’s GMAP program) reaffirmed a choice from last year, Pop Internationalism by Paul Krugman.  Prof. Blackhurst calls it “easy-to-understand economics,” and said, “Every essay in the book is very relevant to the Fletcher program.”

I’ll pass along the remaining suggestions in the next week or two.  Meanwhile, you can find previous years’ lists in the archives:  2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.  (There is more than one post in some years.  You can scroll through all the choices by going to the Our Faculty category.)

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