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Blog posts have a short shelf life, and most readers don’t dig too deep into the archives. For that reason, I thought I’d share some of the most “liked” posts of this past year, as generated by the button below each post. Click on the photo below to take you to the original blog post or the feature series that it was part of.
First, and probably the blog post that has received the greatest number of “likes” ever, was Devon Cone’s report on her five years after Fletcher. It’s a lovely story that has drawn several particularly warm comments. If you enjoy reading about Devon’s post-Fletcher path, consider scrolling through all of the Five Year Updates.
Each of the posts in the Faculty Spotlight series was well received, and I couldn’t possibly choose among the professors, so I invite you to read all of their self-introductions. Click on Prof. Klein’s photo to the left, and then scroll through the posts I collected in 2013-2014. More to come this fall!
Incoming students have told me that they appreciated reading the stories of current students, and everyone was happy for Roxanne when she received the Presidential Award for Citizenship. To catch up with everything that Roxanne, Mirza, Scott, Diane, Liam, and Mark wrote this year, check out all the Student Stories.
Also informative for prospective students have been the updates from students in their first year post-Fletcher. Given the favorable response, I was proactive this year — I lined up a big bunch of students who graduated in May and who volunteered to write about the post-Fletcher career they hadn’t yet started. I’ll begin collecting the posts at the end of the fall. (As I write this, Margot’s post has exactly 100 likes.)
I enjoyed reading the posts students wrote about their activities during the academic year. I learned about things I had never even heard of! In addition to the post on the Human Rights Practicum, the one on the International Criminal Court Simulation was particularly well liked, but go ahead and check out the complete collection of Cool Stuff posts.
Finally, there were lots of likes for a few stories about particular students or alumni — posts that weren’t part of a blog feature series.
I don’t do it too often, but sometimes I can’t resist a nice wedding story. And with a Fletcher professor officiating at the ceremony, they don’t get much more Fletcherish than Megan and Sebastian’s event last summer.
The common element in nearly all these most-liked posts is that they were written by students, alumni, or professors. The few that I wrote myself tell the stories of students or alumni. That gives me a strong hint about areas on which to focus blog posts in 2014-2015!
Though summer reading is no more required this week than it was last week, I wanted to share some recent books by members of the Fletcher community, both faculty members and graduates. I can’t ensure that the list is comprehensive, but with topics from brand management to grand strategy, the new publications provide a nice picture of the breadth of interests at Fletcher.
Books by faculty
Kelly Sims Gallagher, The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology
Robert Pfaltzgraff (with Jacquelyn K. Davis), Anticipating a Nuclear Iran
Joel Trachtman, The Future of International Law: Global Government
Jeswald Salacuse, Negotiating Life: Secrets for Everyday Diplomacy and Deal Making
Books recently or soon-to-be published by recent graduates
Benedetta Berti, Armed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration
Nathalie Laidler-Kylander, The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy and Affinity
Alison Lawlor Russell, Cyber Blockades
And two others
Finally, a less recent graduate, Bill Richardson F’71, has published How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator. Prof. Salacuse also wrote a review essay of the book for Negotiation Journal. Check it out for a nice description of Ambassador Richardson’s career.
Tagged with: Supplementary reading
I was asked last week whether the Admissions Blog would feature a list of recommended readings for incoming students this year. As it happens, I wasn’t planning to gather a new list, but I’m happy to be able to point you back toward suggestions provided by our professors in previous years. I’ve gathered all the posts, dating back to 2007, in a cleaned up Professors Suggest tag.
Though no reading at all is required in the summer before you enroll, you might want to pick up a book to get your mind around upcoming coursework. Or maybe you just want to see how many of the listed books you have already read. Not all the suggestions are heavy — at least one of the posts includes a few fiction options.
Tagged with: Professors suggest
Tufts produces an online newsletter roughly weekly, and I often comb through the People Notes to see if there’s any interesting news on Fletcher folk. Here are recent notes about two members of the Fletcher faculty:
William Moomaw, professor emeritus of international environmental policy at The Fletcher School and former director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, recently returned from a board meeting of the Climate Group in London. Moomaw is president of the North American board of directors of the Climate Group, which met to celebrate the organization’s 10th anniversary and to develop a strategic plan on joint emissions reduction for the next two to three years. Moomaw co-chaired Fletcher’s third Arctic inquiry, “Warming Arctic: Development, Stewardship and Science,” on March 3–4. Additionally, he chaired the closing panel of the Tufts Energy Conference, “The Great Debate: Renewables vs. Fossil Fuels vs. Development.” The Fletcher Forum launched the 2014 Global Risk Forum on climate change with his article “From Failure to Success: Reframing the Climate Treaty.” Moomaw also headed an advisory team that evaluated the environmental studies program at Bowdoin College.
Joel Trachtman, professor of international law at The Fletcher School, was awarded the International Studies Association’s 2014 award for best book on international law for The Future of International Law: Global Government, published last year by Cambridge University Press. The International Law Book Award recognizes a work that excels in originality, significance, and rigor and represents outstanding contributions to the field of international law.
Here’s a nice bit of Fletcher news. Two faculty projects are among the nine selected for special attention and funding from the University provost through the “Tufts Innovates!” program, designed to find new ways to enhance learning and teaching across the university. These descriptions reached us this week:
Charting Negotiation, Mediation and Conflict Resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Lessons from Theory and Practice. Students at the Fletcher School will learn to apply negotiation and conflict resolution theories, with emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Presentations by senior-level practitioners and policymakers will be available campus-wide, providing an opportunity for community learning. The principal investigator is Nadim N. Rouhana, professor of international negotiation and conflict studies. Also on the team developing the course is Michael Baskin, Fletcher PhD candidate.
Human Security Core Course Development. Human security is about the well-being of people rather than of the state, as encompassing as the economy, environment and food. Eileen Babbitt, professor of international conflict resolution practice at the Fletcher School, will lead the development of a multidisciplinary course that explores the theories and applications of human security, focused on one country undergoing conflict or transition. The goal is to offer the course in the spring 2015 semester. Also on the team developing the course is Professor Alex de Waal.
Check out the full article for more details on “Tufts Innovates!”
Today’s post comes from Leila Fawaz, Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies. Prof. Fawaz holds a dual appointment between Fletcher and the Department of History at Tufts. She currently teaches The Arabs and their Neighbors and War and Society in the Middle East in Historical Perspective.
When I started my teaching career in the early 1980s, I used to tell my students that Turkey was not a Thanksgiving dinner, but a country of great importance. Today, I do not need to worry about our students knowing where Turkey or other countries of that region are. The Middle East is at the center of world affairs and every high school student, and certainly any advanced student, knows of its crucial importance to the United States and to the rest of the world. It is unfortunate that perennial conflicts have triggered much of our current awareness of the interdependence of all parts of the globe, yet I find it deeply rewarding to teach at The Fletcher School, where students and faculty are committed to global awareness, and where we can pursue further knowledge at the highest level of scholarship.
I love Fletcher because of its openness to different viewpoints and its commitment to internationalism. Faculty and staff are aware that our students, who come from all over the world, are our most prized charge. Students learn from one another, expose one another to different cultures and ways of thinking, and learn to respect viewpoints that they do not necessarily agree with. All of us at Fletcher are exposed to diverse cultures on a daily basis and are better teachers, and people, for it. We, the faculty, come from different disciplines, which adds a rare and important intellectual dimension to our ability to communicate with colleagues who, at other schools and institutions, are dispersed throughout departments and do not have the privilege of working together closely, on a continuous basis, as we do.
Not that I ever thought I would devote my career to education. I came to the United States in the 1970s to complete my graduate education, as so many people from other countries do, fully expecting to return to my home country of Lebanon. I never planned to have a career, and there was no pressure on me to get more education. Very simply, I loved to read and continued to do so until I found myself with the highest degree I could possibly get, a Ph.D. After that, I discovered that research continued to fascinate me and teaching energized me, so I forged forward, a bit haphazardly, in a wonderful career that brought me many rewards. The primary reward is the privilege of getting to know students who are as international and as challenging as ours are.
In graduate school, I sometimes thought that what I had to say was not important enough to express loudly, only to hear the student next to me express similar ideas with confidence. I learned that we cannot wait for perfection to get involved and that the best way to improve oneself and others is to do just that, by following one’s passions. Do not worry about taking “practical” courses that will improve your career. Study what you love; you will excel, and then you can learn how to acquire any additional skills you need. By studying at Fletcher, you’ll learn to follow your passion intellectually in a rich and energizing community, united in its love of the School and its trust in your future.
Whether on paper or online, reading the newspaper is nothing new to Fletcher, but the MIB program has recently given new meaning to the phrase. Kristen tells us more.
This academic year, the MIB program has launched a new lecture series called Fletcher Reads the Newspaper. The series gathers Fletcher faculty and guests to debate, from an interdisciplinary perspective, several sides of a recent business-connected news item. Topics this year ranged from the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh to Edward Snowden’s impact on Google.
The goal of Fletcher Reads the Newspaper is to bring the faculty’s multiple viewpoints together for students in a way that doesn’t always happen in a classroom setting. Once the professors have established the context for the problem, Dean Chakravorti runs a case-style discussion through which student attendees solve a problem related to the challenge. These sessions give students the opportunity to be analytical and thoughtful about the headlines we see every day.
You can read more about recent sessions, including full event reports, on our website.
Tagged with: MIB
Returning to our Faculty Spotlight series, today’s post comes from Christopher (Rusty) Tunnard, Professor of Practice of International Business. Prof. Tunnard currently teaches Field Studies in Global Consulting and Social Networks in Organizations, a two-part modular course.
What’s the connection between identifying competition and cooperation between Somali warlords, discovering patterns of collaboration in the global arms market (pictured below), finding the right people to help start a business in Tanzania, shaping the media coverage of conflict in Syria, and helping teenaged girls from Islamic countries find ways to connect and to share information on gender-based issues? Besides being very “Fletcheresque” in their geographic and intellectual breadth, these are all topics that have been tackled by students in my class on Social Networks in Organizations, a course that I have been teaching at Fletcher since 2011.
If you had told me ten years ago that I’d write a doctoral dissertation on the development of resistance networks in Serbia during the Milosevic era using social network analysis (SNA) and would later create courses in this fledgling discipline appropriate for a graduate school of international relations, I might have suggested that you seek professional help. But that is exactly what I did, and I thank my lucky stars—and my advisors and students—for making it possible for me to undertake this journey.
One of the many fascinating things about SNA is that it is truly multi-disciplinary. At the annual meeting of SNA practitioners, you’ll find doctors, intelligence and military analysts, mathematicians, physicists, sociologists, business consultants, anthropologists, financial analysts, political scientists, and many more. Everyone, it seems, is interested in examining how people are connected, how they influence the networks they’re in, and how those networks shape the thinking, behavior, and actions of the individuals who comprise them. SNA has played a major role in uncovering bin Laden’s location, reducing the spread of AIDS in Africa, and identifying the key players in dodgy financial schemes (starting with the Enron case.) Although SNA has been around in academia for a few decades, it was a very simple network map of the 9/11 terrorists that rocketed it to prominence. This map, constructed from open-source data, showed that all the terrorist hijackers were within one step, or directly linked, to two individuals with direct ties to bin Laden, whom the government had been investigating for a year before the attack.
Since 2005, the incredible growth of social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter has redoubled the effort to understand how social networks form and can be used to promote political action (think Twitter and the Egyptian resistance) and increase the effectiveness of viral marketing (think Facebook, Google and Amazon). Images such as the one pictured here depict how Twitter users disseminate ideas and issues quickly around the world through mentions and retweets. In this case, it’s a conference hashtag that has, by midday of a full-day session, spread well beyond the core group of conference attendees and followers clustered in the middle.
Two recent developments further illustrate the pervasiveness of SNA. The Snowden revelations have, for better or worse, led to a wider appreciation of how network analysts can identify potential people of interest by looking at patterns of mobile-phone calls without using any of the content. Elsewhere, people are using a combination of SNA and sentiment analysis (ranking the relative “temperature” of words used to describe something) to look at both the spread and intensity of ideas in such diverse applications as new-product marketing on social media and identifying potential political hot-spots before they develop, by examining how issues are being discussed and mapping their velocity and geography.
While SNA is only one diagnostic tool in the arsenal of analytic techniques, it is fast becoming a must-have skill for analysts and managers alike. Its broad appeal may be due to the fact that it employs both left- and right-brain skills first to visualize and then to analyze often counter-intuitive networks of connections that cannot be easily addressed by other means. And SNA can be done using data that governments, NGOs, and companies already collect.
This is an exciting field to inhabit, both academically and professionally, and Fletcher provides me with the opportunity both to teach this new set of skills and to learn from students whose passions and interests span the entire range of international relations.
This entry in the Faculty Spotlight feature comes from Bhaskar Chakravorti, Fletcher’s Senior Associate Dean of International Business and Finance, and the founding Executive Director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context. He is the author of The Slow Pace of Fast Change. He currently teaches Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business and Strategic Management, a module offered during the August pre-session attended by all students in the Master of International Business program. Dean Chakravorti here describes his real-world business education and his perspective on contextual intelligence that resulted.
From 1994 to 1995, I was traveling across Africa, exploring interest among various governments and telecommunications service companies in investment in the continent’s first undersea fiber-optic network. This would be a breakthrough communication technology, with the power of connecting an excluded and fragmented continent with itself, with the world, and to this newly emerging phenomenon — that none of us quite understood at the time — called the Internet.
Given its economic heft, South Africa was among my first ports of call. Those were exciting times for the country. The ANC had just assumed power and Nelson Mandela had made history as the country’s first black president. The world was suddenly considering how to connect to this hitherto isolated country and embracing a potential economic and political powerhouse.
I made what I thought was a brilliant presentation to senior bureaucrats and technologists. In my view, I had quite convincingly made the case for South Africa to be the key anchor for a fiber-optic ring that would encircle the continent with branches taking off toward other continents.
Turns out, my case wasn’t as rock solid as I had imagined. A senior minister took me aside the next day and asked if we could scrap the plans for a ring around Africa and just do a single cable that linked South Africa to …. Malaysia. That’s it. Just Malaysia. But that makes no business sense whatsoever, I protested. The minister explained that Mandela had visited Malaysia the previous year and had struck up a close friendship with Prime Minister Mahathir. The two had agreed on cooperation on many fronts. Most significantly, Malaysia had pledged help in providing voter education to South Africa, a country where nearly 18 million out of the 20 million citizens would cast their ballots for the first time, with half of the 18 million illiterate. And now, post-election, it was critical that the bonds be strengthened further.
“But consider the economics,” I continued. “A single link to Malaysia would be frightfully expensive and would not have the traffic to justify it. You would forgo the chance to connect with the rest of Africa.”
The minister politely, but firmly, let me know that while I seemed smart enough, I was not as clever as I thought I was. “You do not argue with Nelson Mandela,” he said.
Trained as an economist, this was my first small step toward an appreciation for contextual intelligence. The linear logic of business and all its analysis could not — and should not — ignore the momentum of emerging geopolitical alliances. Malaysia was already among the first of South Africa’s allies; there was a stronger relationship to be built. Mandela had personally asked for this cable as a symbol and a conduit.
Still frustrated, I walked the corridors of South Africa Telkom and ran into the old guard. These were engineers and network planners; surely, they understood economics and net present value analysis. I told them my story. They agreed that the Mandela proposal was nonsense. What was needed was a fiber-optic link directly connecting South Africa to Northern Europe. “What about connectivity to the rest of Africa?” I asked.
“Who cares about the rest of Africa?” was the universal opinion.
This was my second lesson in contextual intelligence. The old guard was all white. They were frightened about what was going to come next as their secluded reality had come to an end. While their argument was couched in business terms (after all, Northern Europe was where the business would be), their real reason was history: They desperately wanted a conduit back to the old days and to some semblance of a world that they had known all their lives. They were ready to make a “business” argument that was, in reality, an agenda that harkened back to a colonial legacy.
Yes, I was there at a true inflection point, armed with the finest analysis possible, elaborate layers of spreadsheets, and well-crafted presentations. However, real decisions are based on myriad other factors. In this case, there was, first, a big future envisioned by a master politician — and already a living legend — who could imagine the unimaginable. And second, there was a past that, while it had become politically irrelevant, still had the technocratic expertise to exert a pull in an opposite direction. If South Africa was to develop, it could not afford to ignore the technocrats entirely.
I redid the analysis. We modeled-in the geo-political assumptions, accounted for different connectivity scenarios and their socio-political ramifications as well as economic impact. We resumed the debate in a more holistic manner. Context is, indeed, king. You should embrace it, understand it, and make it central to your business model analysis; most importantly, you should not ignore or fight it.
I have taken this lesson to heart, so much so that I now run Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context. Many students arrive at Fletcher with deep life experience that guides their understanding of centrality of context, but they aim to strengthen their business skills. Others have rich business and technical skills, and they seek to develop their contextual intelligence. Together, we are building a new approach to international business, one that factors in how business decisions connect with non-business factors, such as politics, history, and the human condition.
Today’s Faculty Spotlight introduction comes from a member of a select subset of the Fletcher faculty: professors who also graduated from Fletcher, where Kelly Sims Gallagher received both her MALD and PhD. Prof. Gallagher currently teaches Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy and Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity, and she directs the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
My favorite moment from my years as a student at Fletcher (many years ago now) occurred during my Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China class. Our deliberate Professor Alan Wachman embarked on his lecture on the Korean War, but got no further than about five minutes into the lecture when a hand was raised. “Yes, General?” he asked. My fellow classmate, a retired Korean general in the MALD program, slowly rose to his feet and announced, “I was there.” He then proceeded to give his own reflections on the war in general, and China’s role specifically. It was a classic Fletcher moment where (1) the global perspective is naturally provided in the classroom, (2) everyone was riveted by the moment, (3) history vividly sprang to life, and (4) the class took on a life of its own.
As a current professor, I try to foster and cultivate such moments in my own classes. Let me provide a couple of examples. In my Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy class, we do a simulation of the international climate negotiations every year, right before the annual conference of parties. Most years, we have actual climate negotiators in the class, but they never get to represent their own countries — instead, I put them into their primary adversary’s role. Most recently, I had an actual Chinese negotiator play the role of the Special Envoy for Climate Change in the United States. He set an amazing tone and forcefully argued his positions until one moment when the color in his face rose until he was bright red with emotion. We all watched with appreciation as he managed to develop an argument that he certainly violently disagreed with personally. Not only did he learn a great deal from being able to sit in the shoes of his opponent, but the rest of the class could not help but appreciate the duality of his situation. Students also got to hear during the debrief about what “really happens” in those informal negotiations in the middle of the night.
In my class this semester on Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity, we have two engineers who have actually worked on technology development, one patent expert, former Intel and Shell employees, an economist, and a dozen others from at least eight different countries who have all engaged in the innovation process somehow, somewhere. This spring, our class has been invited by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs to contribute background briefs on the role of technology in delivering sustainable development for the upcoming first-ever Global Sustainable Development Report. As we march through the theory, we will simultaneously study case studies, and uncover and evaluate the empirical evidence about how innovation can contribute to sustainable prosperity.
Classes at Fletcher don’t stagnate; they are dynamically evolving every day, enriched by professors and students working together in a spirit of engaged, respectful inquiry.
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