During the students’ break last week, we were lucky that we had some help from the student staffers who weren’t traveling.  Several times during the week, Dristy popped in to ask a question that had arrived via phone or email from a prospective applicant to the PhD program.  With most of our brain cells pointed toward the needs of newly admitted students or those who have decided to accept a place on the waitlist, it’s easy to forget that a new admissions cycle is already beginning, even as the previous one is still wrapping up.

The fact is that, while our work is entirely cyclical, there’s more than one cycle running at any time.  In January, for example, we’re both welcoming students who start that month, while also accepting applications for September.  Right now, we’re primarily working with the incoming class, but we’ve already started compiling lists of projects for the summer that will (we hope) make the next cycle run more smoothly.

All of this is to say that, if you’re starting your graduate school research this spring, you should feel free to contact us at any time.  We’re happy to help you lay the groundwork for an application in the fall.

 

Four years ago I reached out to a few students and asked them to write for a new Student Stories feature on the blog.  I ask these volunteers to write four posts each year, mostly on topics of their choosing.  Not all quite meet the mark, but I understand that it can be hard to take time to write a post while also writing for so many other classroom-related purposes.  I try not to assign subjects for their posts.  Rather, they write about topics of importance or interest to them.  Because the spring always brings new readers, I want to reintroduce each of the students who have contributed their stories.

This year’s writers are:

Adnan: first-year MALD student from Pakistan

McKenzie: first-year MIB student

Tatsuo: first-year MALD student from Japan

Aditi: second-year MALD student from India

Alex: second-year MIB student

Ali: second-year MIB student, who originally applied through Fletcher’s Map Your Future pathway to admission

And, on a time-available basis, Roxanne, F14, will write about her experiences with the PhD program, having previously written about her two years in the MALD program.

Previous year’s writers were:

Maliheh, F13, MALD

Mirza, F14, MALD

Scott, F14, MIB

Diane, F15, MALD

Liam, F15, MALD

Mark, F15, MIB

And in the first year of this fledgling effort, I also included a first-year graduate, Manjula, who gave me the idea to create Student Stories, which then led to the posts from First-Year Alumni.  I hope you’ll enjoy scrolling through and reading about their Fletcher experiences.

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There’s always something happening in Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.  The center hires student researchers each year and regularly sponsors lectures, and the professors teaching courses on the environment are frequently cited in the media.

Recently, the Tufts Now newsletter highlighted some CIERP accomplishments:

Mieke van der Wansem, F90, the associate director for educational programs at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at the Fletcher School, is the new co-head of faculty for the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability, a one-week executive education course organized by the Sustainability Challenge Foundation in the Netherlands.  She also organized a new one-week executive education program in December for senior officials of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission titled “Industrial Implications of the Circular Economy,” led by Kelly Sims Gallagher, F00, F03, associate professor of energy and environmental policy at Fletcher.  Several Fletcher professors taught in the program, including Gallagher, on “U.S. Climate Policy”; Avery Cohn, on “Metrics and Lifecycle Analysis in a Circular Economy”; Shinsuke Tanaka, on “Economic Policies for Pollution Control and Innovation”; Joel Trachtman, on “The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Environmental Provisions and Implications”; and Bhaskar Chakravorti, on “Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship.”  Two professors from the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning in the School of Arts and Sciences taught sessions: Ann Rappaport, on “Corporate Environmental Management,” and Weiping Wu, on “Sustainability and Industrial Parks.” Jonathan Harris, from GDAE, spoke on “Principles of Ecological Economics.”

While these programs don’t directly affect current Fletcher students, they do add to the general knowledge residing in the School.

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I started the week with a post from a student, so why not end the week with a graduate from the Class of 2010.  Let’s hear from Beka Feathers, whose post-Fletcher path include a law degree, as well as a new career.

Before Fletcher

Beka Feathers 1Unlike many Fletcher students, I had no prior international work experience before starting at Fletcher.  After graduating from Lewis & Clark College in 2006 with a degree in international affairs, I took a position as a policy adviser for the Oregon State Legislature while applying for the U.S. Foreign Service.  I discovered a deep affinity for the work done by state and local government officials to support the everyday lives of Oregonians and to help them achieve their political and economic aspirations.  I maintained my interest in international affairs, and I saw more and more parallels between my work in Oregon state government and the needs of developing and post-conflict countries, where weak or missing governing institutions contribute to political instability, corruption, poor economic growth, and low standards of living.

Fletcher was my first choice throughout my grad school search.  I was drawn by the high caliber of the students as well as the faculty, and the collaborative atmosphere I observed on a visit.  Additionally, I wanted a practitioner-focused school that would help me meld my domestic government experience with my international career aspirations.

During Fletcher

Many students find that the focus of their studies shifts over the course of their time at Fletcher.  I stayed in the same field, but could not have anticipated how much Fletcher would change the trajectory of my professional interests.  I was lucky to end up in two important classes my very first semester: The Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies with Professor Louis Aucoin, and Design and Monitoring of Peacebuilding and Development Programming with Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church.  These two classes (and many others) helped me find my true passions: working with post-conflict states to develop representative and transparent systems of government, and developing monitoring and evaluation tools to ensure that international governance interventions are having the effect that we hope they will have.

Professor Aucoin was especially influential to my course trajectory, particularly my decision to attend law school after Fletcher.  I was also fortunate to study with Professor Shultz, who taught me to seek the intersection points between “hard” and “human” security issues.  I can’t condense into a blog post how much I learned from my fellow students, who met and exceeded every one of my pre-Fletcher expectations (including introducing me to bhangra!).  Also critical was my summer work with the National Democratic Institute, where I helped to develop a set of benchmarking standards for evaluating democratic legislatures.

Following Fletcher

Beka Feathers 2After graduating, I moved down to DC for three years of law school.  Through a Fletcher friend, I was connected to the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), where I started working in my second year of law school.  I am still with PILPG today, where I have worked with clients in Burma, Georgia, Kosovo, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, among others.  I currently manage a program focused on transitional justice in Syria, but I have worked with constitution drafting committees, members of parliament, high-level peace negotiation delegations, civil society coalitions, the UN Human Rights Council, and rebel movements.  I use my Fletcher degree in my job on a daily basis.

The education I received at Fletcher allowed me to jump into my work at PILPG at a level of expertise and confidence that put me years ahead of my peers.  The friends I made at Fletcher, and the broader Fletcher community, remain a constant resource for me as well — they are my go-to experts on anything from the rules of procedure for truth commissions to best practices for post-conflict land reform to where to eat on a last-minute trip to Amman.  Beyond all that, the Fletcher ethos is a core part of my identity as a member of the international development community and continues to shape how I perceive the world and my role in it.

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Professor Michael Glennon published a book in 2014 on “double government,” and that book, National Security and Double Government, has resonated for many with the themes of this year’s election.  You can hear him in an extended conversation on “Radio Open Source.”  It’s worth a listen.

 

You may have seen on Fletcher’s Facebook page or Twitter feed that a group of students has traveled to Cuba during this week’s spring break.  When the trip was planned, the students wouldn’t have known that their adventure would coincide with President Obama’s.  The trip was already a special opportunity, but it turned out to be a historic one.  I’ll let a Miami TV news crew tell the story.

Kat Trujillo

 

Most Fletcher students pursue an internship between their first and second years of the MALD or MIB programs.  While some internships are paid, and others come with a stipend, many (alas) are unpaid and might be out of reach for students.  That’s where Fletcher summer funding comes in.  There are quite a few sources of support for internship-pursuing students.  At the time of year when students are making their final summer arrangements, here are a few of the announcements I’ve seen lately:

The Blakeley Summer Fellowship will provide stipend funding to up to ten students to support a summer internship in a developing country, with a focus on microfinance, private sector development, public-private partnerships, SME development, or NGO business development.

The Slawson Fellowship will provide stipend funding to one first-year MALD or MIB student who accepts a summer internship with an NGO to work in a developing country.  The student must be interested in a career in NGO management, and must be a U.S. citizen returning to Fletcher in fall 2016.

Each year, the Fletcher Alumni of Color Association awards internship stipends to Fletcher students of color pursuing unpaid or partially funded summer opportunities.

The Topal Family Foundation will offer stipend funding to three or more  MALD, MA, MIB, LLM, GMAP, or PhD students selected as Topol Scholars in Nonviolent Resistance for summer research or a summer internship that focuses on nonviolent resistance.

The fellowships may not make students wealthy, but they certainly go a long way toward covering travel or living expenses during the summer months.

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Throughout their time at Fletcher, the Admissions Blog’s student writers primarily discuss their extracurricular lives, whether through student activities, internships, or the job hunt.  But I have been asking all the second-year bloggers to provide an overview of their academic work by creating an “annotated curriculum.”  As you’ll see from Ali‘s notes below, a lot of thought went into her course selections for the MIB program and, in the context of her other posts, I hope it will paint a picture of her curricular life.  (Note that (1) MIB students take an “overload” of five credits in two of their four semesters, and (2) Ali switched programs directly before starting her first semester.)

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Program Manager, Fulbright Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Fields of Study
Strategic Management and International Consultancy
International Business and Economic Law

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Investor relations and corporate responsibility

Curriculum Overview

I came to Fletcher to learn how to promote private-sector investments in international social and environmental initiatives.  As I prepare to leave, I’m confident I’ll be able to use my new corporate finance vocabulary and arsenal of corporate responsibility strategies, gleaned from the classes below, to do just that.

Semester One (5 credits)

Registering for Fletcher’s Strategic Management summer pre-session course was one of the best decisions of my Fletcher career.  Coming from Belgium’s public sector, I wanted to introduce myself to basic business concepts and arrive early to campus to give myself time to adjust.  I enjoyed the course material and MIB students so much that, by the time the Fall semester started, I switched from the MALD to the MIB program myself!  The Admissions team made the application/transition process easy, and my decision resulted in a more structured curriculum with the opportunity to take more credits overall.  I slowly strengthened my quantitative skills in the Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Managerial Economics courses similar to those found at most business schools, and supplemented them with two electives in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability to familiarize myself with the field.  These courses gave me the confidence I needed to assume leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club and begin networking with corporate responsibility professionals from Coke, Southwest Airlines, and other leading companies at the network’s 2015 annual conference.

Semester Two (5 Credits)

The second semester of my first year was full of more MIB requirements – marketing, regional studies, macroeconomics, and stats.  My regional EU studies course was particularly insightful because Professor Laurent Jacques is an EU citizen and provided a firsthand perspective of the political and business environment there.  Luckily, I still had room for two electives since this course and marketing were only half credits, so I took International Business Strategy & Operations and Lean Six Sigma, for which I cross registered at Tufts University’s Gordon Institute.  International Business Strategy & Operations was one of my favorite classes at Fletcher – I enjoyed working with classmates to make recommendations about where to invest in sovereign bonds, and I used the class paper I wrote about Brown-Forman’s internationalization opportunities as an incubator for my capstone project this year.  Lean Six Sigma is such a practical skill to have, and the Gordon Institute offered me a certificate for completion of the course.  Being able to cross-register between schools like that is an oft-overlooked Fletcher benefit.  Overall, I recommend taking five credits each semester the first year for MIB students because – even though it was stressful with internship hunting – I’m even busier spring semester this year!

Summer Internship
Global Sustainability, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), Louisville, KY

I was blessed with a wonderful summer internship at YUM! Brands.  Thanks to some networking and hard work, I landed a position on the Global Sustainability team, where I reported directly to the Chief Sustainability Officer on water stewardship and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) Investor Relations strategies.  You can read more about my internship here, so I’ll spare the details.  What’s worth noting is: I was able to transition to the private sector; after living abroad for two and a half years, I really enjoyed working at home; and I received my internship offer only a few weeks before the semester ended.  People spend most of spring semester at Fletcher worrying themselves away about internships.  Overall lesson: don’t do that to yourself!  It all works out in the end.

Semester Three (4 Credits)

Ah, the last year of graduate school.  It was time to take it easier with four credits so that I could pursue a part-time job.  I ended up obtaining a great position as an intern ESG analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors – a $22 billion investment advisor in downtown Boston.  You can read about how much I enjoyed breaking out of the Fletcher “bubble” to commute downtown and try my hand at investment management here.  I would definitely suggest waiting until second year to pursue a significant internship, though it was hard to balance with the intense set of Corporate Law classes listed above.  I was pleased with the classes used to fill my International Business & Economic Law concentration – especially Mergers & Acquisitions – but it was probably too much to enroll in them all at once.  Spread them out!  By my third semester, I was also winding down my leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club, as well, so I recommend throwing yourself into club activities and leadership roles in the first year while you can.

Semester Four (4 Credits)

In my final semester, I’ve chosen to enroll in a lighter course load with a capstone-based independent study course to give myself the time I need to continue interning at Breckinridge, apply for jobs, and complete a really awesome capstone project and report.  My internship at Breckinridge lets me solidify my new learning from graduate school, and applying for jobs has been a full-time job in itself!  Soon, I hope to return to my hometown in Kentucky to work for a company in the corporate responsibility or investor relations space.  My activities at Fletcher continue to keep me in touch with companies I’d like to work for – my colleagues from my internship at YUM! Brands will come to Boston in February for a Net Impact Career Summit I’ve helped plan — and my capstone project will send me back to Brussels and Amsterdam this month to do field research for my Brown-Forman business proposal.  It’s all coming to an end so fast.  I’m excited for what’s ahead, and I hope to finish the semester strong!

Ali, ski trip

Ali, second from right, on January’s student-organized ski trip.

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Though I fully acknowledge that these lists can get silly, I’m still proud to report that our own Somerville, MA, just across Fletcher Field from where I’m sitting (Fletcher being situated, as it is, near the border between Somerville and Medford), was included among Lonely Planet‘s “Best in the U.S.” spots for 2016!  That’s nice recognition for a town on the move.

For those readers from large cities, it can be hard to capture the relationship between Boston and its near neighbors.  Boston itself (that is, the city as incorporated) is a pretty compact place.  Though it wriggles in multiple directions (the neighborhood of Allston over here, Jamaica Plain over there), it’s an old city and the lines were tightly drawn.  Wikipedia tells me that Boston covers 48 square miles (124 square kilometers), compared to New York’s 468 square miles (1214 square kilometers).  The resulting effect is that some of the neighboring towns are really (regardless of what Lonely Planet might say) not suburbs in the traditional American sense.  Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline — they’re all neighboring cities, not the leafy towns that “suburb” usually connotes.  Or, as Wikipedia goes on to say, there’s the City of Boston (24th largest in the U.S.), the Greater Boston area (tenth largest in the U.S.), or the Greater Boston commuting region (sixth largest in the U.S.).  Somerville is squarely in Greater Boston.

Anyway, that little digression aside, there are a lot of reasons why Somerville is receiving recognition at this time.  Suffice it to say that the city has truly evolved over recent years into a great location for folks in the Fletcher demographic.  (Note its #6 spot on a 2015 list of Top Cities for Hipsters.)  From Davis Square to Assembly Square, Somerville has lots to offer, whether for two years in graduate school or for the long term.

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The subject of today’s Faculty Spotlight feature is John Allen Burgess, Professor of Practice and Executive Director of Fletcher’s LLM Program.  In addition to his role as LLM director, he currently teaches Mergers and Acquisitions: An International Perspective, and Securities Regulation: An International Prospective

Every semester, I have the privilege to enjoy a range of special experiences along with the Fletcher LLM students.  From the fall, when we first get a chance to meet each other and other members of the law faculty at Professor Chayes’ beautiful home, to the spring, when we gather as a group off campus to hear about each other’s work and talk with a range of guests over lunch, a drink or dinner, the year is filled with so many chances to learn and to interact with each other.

Photo credit: Matt Teuten for Tufts University

Photo credit: Matt Teuten for Tufts University

But the experience I most enjoy is the High Table — an opportunity for the LLM students and law faculty to come together in a book-lined seminar room to learn from experts in various aspects of international law.  It is the perfect location and atmosphere for off-the-record conversations on a wide range of issues.

I attended my first High Table in September 2014 — and immediately realized that it was a very special experience.  Dr. Mohamed El-Baradei joined the group to discuss his experiences as Chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency in both Iraq and Iran as well as his experiences during the Arab spring.  It was an extraordinary opportunity to hear in a small group about the views of a Nobel prize winner, and learn more as he, my fellow faculty members, and the LLM students pursued an open dialogue across a wide range of topics.

As I now look back at the many High Tables I have attended, two things strike me.  The first is the opportunity to meet and hear from people who have achieved amazing things in the law, often against extraordinary odds and challenges.  Chief Judge Patricia Wald, who spoke to us regarding her work as Chair of the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, was also a pioneer in so many respects — as a young mother who went to law school when few women attended and as the first woman Chief Justice of the DC Circuit.  She then, instead of taking a well-earned retirement, served as a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, working to build a new international jurisprudence.  The High Table’s intimate surroundings gave me a chance to see first-hand her intelligence, her humility, and the richness of her experience.  It left me feeling both humble and deeply impressed.

The second special feature of the High Tables is the excitement of being exposed to legal issues that are outside my area of expertise.  For example, earlier this year, Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Nigeria, gave a provocative talk on issues of rule of law in emerging economies — he challenged our thinking on the issue and provoked an informative discussion among the group.  Cravath partner Rory Millsom walked the group through the thicket of legal considerations surrounding targeted killing by drones, making some challenging points about the application of law to new technologies along the way.

No matter how many High Tables I have attended, I always leave the discussion knowing that I have learned something new and that I am lucky to be surrounded by such informed students and teachers.  It’s a great feeling and a significant perk of my work at Fletcher.

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