Here we are, with the general application deadline in clear view.  Unless you have already applied, you’re probably typing away, getting everything ready to submit by 11:59 p.m. EST (UTC-5) on Sunday, January 10.  (Yes, there are later deadlines, but they’re appropriate for relatively few applicants.)  Remember that, to meet the deadline, you need to submit all the parts of the application that you control.  DO NOT hold your application for recommenders or for test scores.  (On the other hand, do make sure your recommenders are well aware of the deadline.)  If you are still waiting for an official transcript to arrive so that you can upload a copy, send us whatever you have now, and send the official version when you receive it.

Remember to proofread your essays and double check that you have answered all the questions.  And then…click submit.  We’ll see you (more precisely, your application) very soon!

 

So I answer my office phone one day.  I note the caller ID (“Farzana Hoque”), but the person on the other end is Matt Herbert, a PhD candidate.  Matt and I chat about his reason for calling, but then I ask him about the caller ID.  “Farzana is my wife,” he says.  Then (at my prompting) he goes on to explain that he (a 2010 MALD graduate) met Farzana (a 2012 MALD graduate), during her final semester at Fletcher.  He had just returned from a year living and working in Norway.  They stayed in Boston from 2012 to 2013 (she was working, he continued with the PhD program) while they considered if their relationship might be a keeper.  It was.

In 2013, Matt bought an engagement ring in Nairobi, Kenya, and in 2014, they were married.  Three times.  The first wedding was the one that made everything official, and yet it took place in a car speeding out of Washington, DC.  They needed to fulfill the requirement imposed by their DC marriage license that the formal ceremony be performed in the District.  Matt’s sister, who had obtained legal authority to conduct the wedding, was in the car.  A kiss at the spotlight sealed their “I do’s.”  The second was a “Flash Wedding” — Matt and Farzana’s secret plan to turn a small wedding shower into an actual, though low-key, wedding.  (Matt’s sister officiated this time, too.)

The third wedding took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh — a three-day ceremony filled with dancers, food, and 400 friends and relatives.  Several Fletcher alumni living in Dhaka even made an appearance.

Matt and Farzana now live and work in Washington, DC, except when Matt is in West or North Africa for work or research.  Their life together has already touched on more than the average number of countries, in true Fletcher fashion.

Matt and Farzana

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Let me say at the outset that we know the whole transcript requirement is easier for graduates from U.S. colleges and universities than it is for those from many other parts of the world.

What we require is a scanned and uploaded copy of an official transcript.  You don’t need to mail us the official transcript (though you may, if you prefer), but regardless of the method of transmission, we want to see an official transcript, with the names of each class, the associated grade, the indication you actually graduated (or will graduate before August 2016), and the dates of your enrollment.

For most students, that means you will either scan the official transcript you already have, or you will need to request one.  And it also means that we don’t want you to send us an unofficial grade report.  Check the application instructions for additional guidance on the transcript requirement.

Experience tells us that nearly all applicants can submit the transcript we require.  Though the deadline is coming fast, you still have the time to line up the correct document and upload it shortly after you have submitted the application.  And we also know that there will be a very small number of applicants who truly can’t access an official transcript.  We will work with them.  But everyone else should scan and upload a copy of their official transcript.

 

What better way to celebrate the first work day of 2016 than to return to the Five-Year Updates from the Class of 2010.  This post comes from Adam Welti.

Adam WeltiFive years after graduation from Fletcher, I am currently employed by a United States Government technical agency that allows me to work with high-level political leaders to support sustainable natural resource policies — as well as farmers and young people living in and around forests and wetlands that hold some of the greatest biodiversity in the world — to develop more sustainable agricultural practices while improving livelihoods.  A career at this nexus was my goal, and my Fletcher experience played a large part in helping me arrive at where I am today.

Before Fletcher

My international interests began with study-abroad trips that later led to two years with the Peace Corps in Morocco, where I served as a Natural Resource Management Volunteer in a rural Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains.  Following this formative experience in Morocco, I taught English at a high school in Saint Dizier, France through the Foreign Language Teaching Program.  During my time abroad, I realized I wanted to pursue graduate studies in an international affairs program that had a strong faculty and curriculum in environment and natural resource policy, to augment my undergraduate work in environment and natural resource science.  I sought a school with a strong sense of community that reflected the value of community I had come to appreciate as a part of my childhood and later years in Morocco.  For those primary reasons, Fletcher stood out as the logical choice for my graduate studies.

During Fletcher

While at Fletcher in the MALD program, I focused on International Environment and Resource Policy as well as International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.  I was fortunate to have a student job at the Office of Development and Alumni Relations that afforded me the opportunity to interact with the extensive Fletcher alumni network, which has truly lived up to the hype.

The summer between my first and second years at Fletcher, I served as an Advocacy Project Fellow in Liberia supporting a local non-governmental organization through capacity building and environmental education assessments.  During my time in Liberia, I met the U.S. Forest Service Advisor to USAID and the Liberian government, who told me about the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs office.  It was this chance encounter that eventually led me to my current position.

After Fletcher

Upon graduation from Fletcher, I worked with the Rainforest Alliance supporting their Forest Stewardship Council certification work.  In 2011, I joined the Africa and Middle East team of the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, where I manage programs in West and North Africa.  Our office works to connect the technical expertise of the 35,000 staff of the U.S. Forest Service with our partners abroad.  Through technical exchange missions, policy dialogues, international seminars, and longer-term development projects, we partner with other forestry and environment agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to sustainably manage natural resources while improving livelihoods.

Adam Welti in GhanaMy work with the U.S. Forest Service allows me to interact with high level government counterparts within U.S. government and host country agencies, as well as with resilient, inspiring farmers in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.  In my work across West and North Africa, for example, I have been able to leverage my knowledge and experience in international negotiations and agreements to support capacity related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  Managing a complex project and a team that works with more than 300 subsistence-level farmers to integrate fruit and timber trees into their farm lands, while improving incomes and conserving biodiversity, and at the same time informing national-level dialogues related to leveraging international carbon market funding, combines my undergraduate training with my graduate coursework.  This has proven to be an ideal match and a rewarding career.

Throughout the five years since leaving the Tufts campus, I have found the Fletcher community to be incredibly strong.  Whether meeting Fletcher alumni within the greater U.S. government community abroad or finding myself seated next to a fellow 2010 graduate on a flight to West Africa, the sense of community remains strong even after graduation.  I am proud to be a member of the Fletcher alumni network and enjoy being able to leverage what I learned in Medford in my work across the ocean.

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Yes, sure, it’s a University holiday today, but I can still give you a link or two, can’t I?

You’re wrapping up your application, I hope, so let me point you to our latest word on the essays: our thoughts on Essay One and Essay Two.  While I’m at it, here’s everything else we’ve posted.

Happy writing!  Don’t forget to proofread!

 

I remember reading with my kids a book about kindergarten students who think their teacher lives at school (shuffling down the hall in her pink slippers and bathrobe).  I’m confident that no Fletcher students imagine a similar scene of professors and staff members drinking hot cocoa in the Hall of Flags, but I can tell you what it is like here in the week between Christmas and New Year’s:  Quiet.  Very quiet.  Students are gone — taking time with family or friends in the area or far away.  Professors are gone — even if they’re still grading exams and papers, they’re generally not doing it at Fletcher.  And many staff members are gone — with students and professors away, it’s a perfect time for us to take vacation.

But the School is still open, and in the Admissions Office, we continue moving the application process along.  That said, the Office will be closed tomorrow and Friday for the New Year’s holiday.  We’ll be back on Monday, and we hope that we will be greeted by some applications that are submitted over the holiday weekend.

All of us in the Office of Admissions send our wishes to you for a happy and peaceful 2016!

 

Let’s talk about that deadline thing.  Yes, I know, you’ve got plenty of time before January 10.  Sure, the New Year’s holiday is coming up and you don’t want to work on an application on a special day.  And of course, you certainly don’t want to zap through an application loaded with errors.  On the other hand…do you want to submit your application on Sunday, January 10, along with nearly 1000 other people?  No.  You do not.

HomerSo let me, once again, assume my position on your right shoulder as your Deadline Angel.  Allow me to persuade you to submit your application ahead of the deadline.  Because January 10 is a Sunday, I would like to suggest Thursday, January 7 as an ideal day.  If you zap it through next week, you will soon know — before your less persuadable peers even click submit — whether your application is complete or if we need you to follow up with additional materials.  Won’t that be nice?  And won’t that be much nicer than potentially needing to wait until mid-January to know that we are unable to read your transcripts (or that there is some other easily fixable problem)?

Best of all, by submitting the application a few days ahead of the deadline, you ensure that you are not “that guy.”  You know, the guy who contacts us after the deadline and tells us he was confused as to whether we meant before or after midnight (we mean 11:59 p.m. EST (UTC-5) on January 10), or something else like that.  Don’t be that guy.

Finally, the materials due by the deadline are your parts of the application: the form, the essays, etc.  DO NOT hold your application to wait for recommenders or for test scores.  While we prefer to have everything in place before the deadline, your application will not be considered late because a recommender is still working on your letter.

Is that enough to convince you to submit early?  I hope so.  You’ll be happier if you do.  And we will, too.

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Our next post in the Faculty Spotlight series comes from Andrew Hess, Professor of Diplomacy and Director of the Southwest-Central Asia and Islamic Civilization Program.  Professor Hess currently teaches Southwest Asia: History, Culture, and Politics, The Globalization of Politics and Culture for Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and The Globalization of Central Asia and the Caucasus.  In his post, Professor Hess describes the curriculum changes he has needed to make to keep his courses current.

image_Hess_AndrewThe courses I offer in the fall semester deal with an explosion of complex conflicts from Eastern Europe to China.  Happily this should improve employment opportunities for future diplomats!  But the down side of all this violent activity means I need to constantly adjust course curricula.

In the interest of keeping up with all the turmoil, I am going to describe the additions to our previous semesters’ battles by trying to understand radical change in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the emerging nation states along the southern edge of the former Soviet Union.  I, however, offer no guarantee on including all that may happen in Southwest and Central Eurasia: I find this region has indeed earned its reputation for being a land of unpredictability.

Diplomacy 265 (The Globalization of Politics and Culture for Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) was originally dedicated to understanding the international and internal politics related to key diplomatic issues of the three non-Arabic language speaking nation states east of Iraq, south of Central Asia and west of India. Alas, the power of twenty-first century global change makes it ever more difficult to explain what is happening in this region on the basis of only a national analysis.

The big issue is: Why so much violence and so little in the way of diplomatic solutions in this huge chunk of Eurasia?  The answer is, no doubt, going to be complex; and among the various new explanations for this bleak situation I suggest that the intensified impact of three global trends in this sub-division of Southwest Asia have added to the forces of instability already underway in this strategically important portion of Eurasia.

Very briefly these “trends” are:

  • The absence of a balance of great powers for Eurasia as a whole has intensified powerful regional struggles on a global level (think about the states and-non government organizations who might want to take advantage of weak states);
  • Second, the widespread inability of Middle Eastern and Southwest Asian governments and societies to cope institutionally with a global acceleration of social and cultural change is certainly behind recent upheavals (which terrorist group do you follow on Pakistan’s northwest frontier);
  • Finally, what to do about a new geopolitics of energy (there is an ongoing gas revolution) for a region (the Central Eurasian Energy Ellipse) that provides, maybe, seventy percent of the world’s oil and gas resources;

And while we are talking about diplomatic problems involving commerce, we should not forget that Afghanistan is probably the world’s largest producer of heroin.

The Globalization of the South Caucasus and Central Asia (Diplomacy 267) course came to the Fletcher curriculum as a response to the increasing strategic importance of this slice of Eurasia during the period of the Cold War (1953-1991).  But the politics of the old bipolar struggle in Eurasia has now been replaced by conflicts between of new nation states now emerging from within the former body of the Soviet Union and the effort of the ruling elite of the Russian Federation to restore in some fashion the prestige of the Russian state.

Meanwhile huge technological forces associated with the economic development of all of Eurasia are linking the heartland of the Continent with the global economy: starting in the last quarter of the twentieth century the almost simultaneous growth of global oil production in the Soviet Union and the transfer under European control of high level petroleum skills into the Persian/Arabian Gulf arena set the stage for the modern geo-politics of energy in Eurasia.  So the two courses (Diplomacy 265 and 267) complement each other in the sense that great and small powers have to develop policies to defend their strategic interests in the production, processing, and transportation oil and gas.

Starting last fall, I have expanded the coverage of the 267 course to include a wider range of states along the edge of the southern frontier of the former Soviet Union.  In the west, we will argue that the Russian seizure of the Crimea is part of the larger political struggle for political power in the center of Eurasia; and it is an event that should be included within the wider Eurasian geo-politics of energy (gas supply for Europe).  At the eastern edge of former Soviet frontier we need to study the diplomatic problems of Russia’s new energy relations with China, in relation to the interests of Eurasia’s Turkish speaking states and societies.  (Uyghurs!).  And of course, I have added some new material concerning the technical revolutions taking place in the petroleum sector, where the international impact is not so clear at this time.

Finally, my current research asks, what role does the sectarian dispute between the Sunni and Shi’i versions of Islam play in the contemporary politics of Southwest Asia?

Outside of the classroom, the Southwest-Central Asia and Islamic Civilization Program involves students in the selection of speakers and the generation of discussions of key events involving Southwest and Central Asia.  When there is student interest, the Program sponsors the online journal (Al Nakhlah) as an effort to encourage students to publish their research papers.  We usually employ two student editors for this project.  And the program also supports summer research efforts for those students who are in the MALD or PhD programs and are working on a topic related to the Southwest and Central Asian courses.  Last, during the fall semester, we celebrate social and cultural cohesion at an annual picnic.

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A note to let you know the Admissions Office holiday schedule.  In general, we’ll be open our usual 9:00-5:00 hours throughout the next few weeks.  We will be closed, though, on:

Thursday, December 24
Friday, December 25
Thursday, December 31
Friday, January 1

Feel free to zap us an email on any of those days and we’ll respond when we’re back at work.

 

One of my very favorite activities this semester was a series of three “fireside chats,” on “The Beauty of Mathematics,” offered by second-year MALD student, Abhishek Maity (who credited Professor Kim Wilson for the idea).  Inviting students to “geek out on mathematics,” the three sessions covered fractals, the mysteries of the infinite, and “what is reality.”  Invitations to the sessions noted, “We spend a lot of time discussing moral and ethical questions at The Fletcher School, so take some time to explore wider philosophical ideas of nature, art, and mathematics.  No knowledge of mathematics required.”

The three sessions drew between 40 and 60 students each.  An astounding total for an event that would ask students, already busy with their own academic activities, to delve into challenging material on another field.  Sure, pizza was offered, but pizza can be found in many places, whereas a student-led discussion of advanced mathematics was offered on only three fall dates.

 

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