We’re holding our Visit Day today for admitted Early Notification applicants. It’s like a mini Open House: many of the same activities we’ll offer to admitted applicants in April, but with much less competition for attention. With fewer than 20 visitors, we have a nice opportunity both to meet some of the people we’ve been reading about and also to ensure they have all the information they need.
Between the visitors and everything else going on, it’s a busy day and I’ll make this a short post. For those who may be looking for a little more content, you can check out Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks at the Munich Security Conference, in which he makes reference to Fletcher. Secretary Kerry knows Fletcher well, having given the commencement speech in 2011, back when he was the long-serving senator from Massachusetts. (If you prefer, you can also read the transcript of his remarks.)
There are always gaps in what we’ve covered on the blog, and I regret that I haven’t written enough (or asked others to write enough) about the LL.M. program. This year I had heard talk around the office about a student who is very active in the community, so I reached out to Marlene Houngbedji to ask for her reflections on the program. Her thoughts on being an LLM student follow, rounding out a week when we have already heard from a graduate and a professor.
A doorway to major changes opened when I was admitted to the Fletcher School’s LL.M. program. My rather colorful pre-Fletcher professional journey had kept me away from the legal world for a long period. I had therefore been seeking a program that values international backgrounds while reinforcing prior (might I say: outdated?) knowledge of public international law. Although it feels like I started classes a mere few weeks ago, my first semester, the winter break and even a two-day New York career trip surreptitiously elapsed while I was busy being studious, and we’re already in our third week of the spring semester.
The time is therefore ripe for a mid-year assessment of my Fletcher post-graduate venture.
Balancing academic and professional goals
For me, acquiring experience in case law, and studying international law with a U.S. perspective are some of the program’s most valuable features. Not only does Fletcher’s LL.M. program cover a broader international legal range than other U.S. LL.M. programs to which I had considered applying, but it also offers students trained in civil law exposure to the common law system. I indeed find it fascinating to compare how universal legal concepts are interpreted from one system to the other. Some of my classmates and I never missed post-lecture opportunities to assail Professor Cerone with comments and questions on why legal theory is so different in the U.S., which made for quite heated yet entertaining fall-semester discussions!
The small number of students in the program permits frequent interactions with our faculty, which in turn, makes it easy to receive personalized guidance on course choices and professional goals. In speaking of the latter, our recent Office of Career Services-sponsored trip to New York introduced those of us interested in the legal profession to the UN Office of Legal Affairs (codification division) and to UN Women, dedicated to gender empowerment, among other organizations. Learning about the types of careers available to students of a discipline as abstract as international law has most definitely helped me choose my second semester classes accordingly.
I was not sure what to expect from world class faculty and my fellow students last semester, nor did I have a definite idea of what, as the recipient of a foreign law degree, was expected of me. Though I had decided what area of international law would become my field of expertise before applying to the Fletcher School, the variety of courses from which I could choose triggered a moment of panic. For a few days after classes began, it seemed that in picking classes in each division, to fulfill the breadth requirement, I was set to study topics with little to no relevance to traditional legal training. Apples and oranges in an academic setting.
Creating a personalized curriculum
The breadth of options turned out to work to my advantage, however, as it allowed me to tailor my curriculum to my academic and professional needs, while remaining within the requirements of the LL.M. program. My interest in human rights, protection of vulnerable groups in conflicts, and refugees’ and women’s issues prompted me to choose Professor Hannum’s International Human Rights Law, Professor Cerone’s International Humanitarian Law, Professors Mazurana and Stites’ Gender in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, and to cross-register for a course in international refugee law at Harvard Law School. A corresponding practical apprenticeship at the Boston branch of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic doubled my course load, but the privilege of working on gender asylum cases added a real-life component to theory and increased my familiarity with the U.S. judicial system.
This was how I was able to understand how seemingly unrelated disciplines and course content can reconcile into a multi-faceted perspective on law. By graduation, I will have learned to legally analyze human security through gender and economic lenses, and to paint a legal triptych comprising human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law panels with gendered shades and nuances.
As it turns out, apples and oranges do mix, sometimes…
Tagged with: LLM
The next post in our Faculty Spotlight series comes from Miguel E. Basáñez, adjunct professor and director of the Judiciary Reform Program, who describes his path to Fletcher. Prof. Basáñez currently teaches Culture, Human Values and Development, in addition to directing the Judiciary Reform Program, which is generally offered in the summer.
Prospective Fletcher students are nearly always afflicted with a severe case of wanderlust, and have usually racked up an impressive record of traveling, working, and studying abroad. As such, I’m sure that all of you have experienced the collision of different values, beliefs, and ways of life that we call “culture shock.” My own experiences with culture shock — primarily as a Mexican graduate student in Great Britain in the 1970s — were so powerful that they never left me, and indeed inspired me to make the study of cultural values the basis of my academic career.
After many years in government and running my own public polling firm, I came to Fletcher, where I research human values and teach the seminar “Culture, Human Values and Development.” In my course, we seek to answer some of the deepest questions around culture: Is it even possible to talk about national cultures? How can cultures be studied and measured? How do particular cultural traits impact the development of economic, political, and social systems? Should policymakers seek to influence people’s values and beliefs, and if so, how can it be done? Fletcher’s great diversity is a huge advantage in these discussions, as even in a small seminar we usually have students from many different parts of the world, and they bring new and valuable perspectives to the conversation. In fact, sometimes I think I’ve learned more from my students than they have from me!
As an outgrowth of my work on culture, I’ve also started to do work on judicial reform, since a country’s legal system is both a cause and a consequence of its culture. I currently direct the Fletcher Judiciary Reform Program, which brings policymakers and professionals to our school for executive training programs on how best to manage the transition from an inquisitorial to an adversarial justice system. To date, we have trained almost 200 Mexican professionals, judges, and lawyers in week-long crash courses in comparative law. In addition, the program does research and puts on events related to security, rule of law, and prosperity in Latin America, such as immigration reform and promotion of innovation.
There are opportunities for Fletcher students to be involved with each of these programs, and I continue to be impressed by their dedication, intelligence, and intellectual curiosity. Fletcher students have so much to offer, and mentoring them is one of the best parts of my work.
I recently heard from Justin, a 2013 grad, who offered to share his reflections on his first months since graduating. I love volunteers! And here is Justin’s report.
As I reflect on my experience at Fletcher, I can hardly believe it’s been three years since I made the decision to attend graduate school. In early 2011, I was living in New York and working as a manager at a Big 4 consulting firm. Though I was making a good living, I felt that my career had plateaued, and I wanted to burnish my credentials to pursue the international business career I had always dreamed of. Fletcher’s MIB program offered exactly what I was looking for — core business training within the context of a school famous for its international affairs curriculum. So I went for it. And three years later, I can happily say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I entered Fletcher with a clear mission: to position myself for a great job when I graduated. While I certainly worked hard in the classroom, I also made networking one of my top priorities from the start. By constantly speaking with alumni and attending events, I developed a clear sense of the path I wanted to take by the end of my first year, and my efforts generated three internship offers, all through alumni connections. I ultimately chose to work in Latin America strategy at Converse Inc. (a Nike subsidiary).
Converse opened many new doors for me. A successful summer led to an offer to continue working part-time during my second year (Converse is based in Boston), and I used that time to develop my capstone — a three-year commercial strategy for the brand in Brazil. Working part-time on top of studying full-time was certainly a major commitment, but it enabled me to apply context to all of the new skills I was learning in the classroom. The Fletcher alumnus I worked for, Dave Calderone (F’87), was an excellent mentor who exposed me to many facets of the global footwear industry. He played an instrumental role in my education. And the day after graduation, I started working full-time for Dave as a Strategic Planning Manager for Latin America at Converse.
After a few months, I made a personal decision to move to San Francisco. I’m now working as a Senior Manager of Business Development for the Old Navy brand at Gap, Inc., where I’m responsible for adding new markets to Old Navy’s international franchise portfolio. In the coming year, I’ll be traveling extensively around the world to visit retail markets and meet with potential new franchise partners. I’ll be negotiating contracts, examining import/trade implications, constructing financial models, and truly building a global business. It’s a job I could only have dreamed of before Fletcher.
My life has changed significantly over the last three years. I now have lifelong friends all over the world. I’ve been to 10 new countries on three continents. I think about global business issues in an entirely new way. And I got the international career I had hoped for. Deciding on graduate school is a major life decision indeed, but it works if you work it. So be deliberate, be decisive, have an open mind, and go for it.
Oh, and one last thing. Support Los Fletcheros!
I never attend as many special lectures as I would want, but it’s always good to know that they’re happening and that students have the opportunity to broaden their education beyond the classroom by attending. The series developed by the The Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) for this spring looks particularly interesting. In announcing the line-up, the folks over at IBGC describe the IBGC Speaker Series as having “provided Fletcher students with substantive networking and recruiting opportunities with relevant global business leaders for the past 12 years.” Updates to the lineup can be found on Twitter @IBGC_Fletcher.
- Wed. 1/22 – Susan Livingston, Partner, Brown Brothers Harriman
- Thur. 1/23 – Ashish Karamchandani, Partner, Monitor Inclusive Markets, Monitor Deloitte India
- Wed. 1/29 – Jeff Dodson (GMAP ’12), EVP, Strawn, Arnold & Associates
- Mon. 2/10 – Theodore Forbath, Global VP, FrogDesign
- Wed. 2/26 – Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, Former Iraqi Security Advisor and Statesman in Residence at Fletcher
- Wed. 3/5 – Chip Ray, EVP, Chicago Bridge & Iron
- Fri. 3/7 – Maria Gordon, F’98, EVP, PIMCO
- Thurs. 3/13 – Willy Foote, CEO, Root Capital
2014 EVENTS – SAVE THE DATES
Tagged with: Events
Our Admissions Committee meeting will start in 45 minutes, but I’m going to try to sneak in a blog post before I head over to the meeting room. I wanted to update you on news from some of our blog friends.
First, our student bloggers. They’re back on campus and I’ve been giving them a little time to settle into classes before I start cajoling them for posts. Meanwhile, if you weren’t in Guatemala City to hear it yourself, you might like to check out Roxanne’s latest TEDx talk.
Also making news — our friend Manjula. Trying to follow his comings and goings via Facebook, I see that he has spent an extended time in Sri Lanka generating support for Educate Lanka. At least one of the goals of his trip was to organize a charity “Walk for a Cause,” which took place last weekend. Along the way, he was interviewed in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times, and also by Young Asia Television. (No translation available, but you’ll get the idea.)
Finally, and closer to where I’m sitting right now, our own Christine has made Fletcher news, in that she has been promoted to Admissions Coordinator. At the moment, she is wearing two different hats (her old one and her new one — both stylish, of course), but that leaves little time for writing Consult Christine posts. Once she settles into only one job at a time, she can start up writing again.
So that’s the round-up! And I’m off to the Admissions Committee meeting.
Tagged with: Student Stories
In the second Faculty Spotlight post, Michael Glennon, professor of international law, describes the origins of his interest in international relations and how it has developed at Fletcher. Prof. Glennon currently teaches The International Legal Order, Public International Law, and Foreign Relations and National Security Law.
My interest in international law and relations was probably sparked long ago by the Vietnam War. I interned for three summers for a member of Congress who was a leading critic of the war, and afterwards, arguments in law school about the scope of the presidential war power convinced me that this was an area in which I wanted to work. Most of what I’ve done professionally has related in one way or another to seeking to understand how the use of force can be subjected to the rule of law.
I’ve found, at Fletcher, the ideal place to continue that study. In the end, this question is not purely legal — it raises interdisciplinary issues that fall within the expertise of numerous Fletcher students and faculty colleagues. Virtually all my written work has benefited from their advice and counsel — and in the case of students, from their research assistance. Fletcher students make for a great sounding board. An article I’ve just completed on national security law benefited hugely from comments conveyed over pizza by a group of students. They were thorough, insightful, worldly-wise and candid — just the reality check that every author needs before committing to print. Recent congressional testimony turned into an article co-authored jointly with my Fletcher research assistant.
When I first arrived at Fletcher ten years ago, a colleague pointed out that no matter what an instructor talks about in class, there’s almost always a student in the room who knows more about it. I’ve found that it’s the rare class that doesn’t produce some insight that ultimately influences my own thinking. It’s this synergy between faculty and students, striving together to understand, that energizes Fletcher’s intellectual community. It’s enriching to be a part of it.
One of the objectives of the Admissions Blog at this time of year is to fill the long silence between when you submit your application and when you receive your admission decision. On the other hand, it’s hard to make our January-to-March activities sound interesting. We process applications. We read applications. We decide on applications. We do other stuff, including planning for next year before we’re even done with this one. Blog readers should rest assured that we are making progress on all of our work.
But applicants should not interpret the long silence to mean that they needn’t think about their graduate studies. The hard work of preparing applications may be complete, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you set yourself up to make an informed decision in April. To that end, here are some things you can do or think about while you’re waiting for graduate schools to make their decisions.
1. If you didn’t have a chance to visit Fletcher (or your other schools) in the fall, it’s not crazy to plan a trip for the coming months. We hope that admitted applicants will participate in the April events we organize for them, but if you want to see the school in everyday mode, don’t hesitate to come over. We’ll be offering a few information sessions each month, and you’re always welcome to attend a class, whether or not we have scheduled activities.
2. Go back to the websites of your selected schools and make sure your interests are truly in line with what the schools offer. Based on the questions we receive in the spring, we know that many applicants have not thought through their choices quite as carefully as would be optimal. Or, equally possible, their interests have migrated a bit in the months since applying. Either way, check over the information so that you’re ready to make an informed choice.
3. If you sent off your application without a firm financial plan in mind, now is the time to think about money. Are you eligible to take education loans? How big a loan burden are you willing to take on? Are there any scholarships out there for which you’re a competitive applicant? Every graduate school has its own scholarship policy, but in the world of professional schools, scholarships for full tuition and living expenses are relatively rare. Even if you receive a full tuition scholarship, how will you cover all of the living expenses that a year in graduate school involves? What if you don’t receive full tuition, as is the case for the majority of Fletcher students?
4. Related to #3, now is a really good time to save your pennies. I’d even suggest a starvation spending diet, so that you can build a cushion for the lean earnings period of graduate student life. This may be counter-intuitive. Some people might think that now is the time to enjoy having an income, but the additional funds will be so much more valued when you don’t have money coming in.
So, broadly speaking, I’m suggesting information gathering and financial planning as two worthy activities for the coming months. Making a decision in April will be ever so much easier when you have all needed information in place.
Time to check in with another 2008 graduate. Please meet Darren Long who, like our newest students, was a “Januarian.”
The Fletcher School appeals to a certain kind of person and from the moment I discovered the school, I knew I was one of those people. Fletcher’s broad, globally-oriented and cross-functional course listing matched my interests perfectly, stretching from agricultural economics to international negotiation to diplomatic history. The independence allowed by the MALD program would allow me to combine foundational courses with insightful and cutting-edge topical subjects to pursue a truly unique course of study. And the backgrounds of Fletcher’s students and alumni was proof that it was a gathering place for like-minded individuals.
I joined Fletcher at the beginning of 2007 as “Januarian,” along with about 20 other students starting at mid-year. We were immediately swept up in class schedules, along with a range of other social events. My Fields of Study were Pacific Asia and Development Economics, with a particular focus on China, where I had lived and worked prior to Fletcher. I also found Fletcher’s courses in policy analysis, international business law, agricultural policy, and analytical frameworks to be especially useful.
Following my first semester, I moved back to China for the summer to study Mandarin and prepare for Fletcher’s language requirement. While there, I connected with Ecom Trading, one of the world’s oldest physical commodities firms, and was offered a position as a commodity market analyst in Shanghai following graduation. My knowledge of Chinese political economy — which greatly impacts global commodity markets — along with agriculture, economics, and finance, made for a unique set of competencies, developed in large part while at Fletcher, that directly helped me to land the position.
I was able to build preparation for my upcoming professional role into the rest of my coursework at Fletcher, making analysis of the Chinese cotton sector the focus of my thesis, and completing a one-semester exchange program at the China Europe International Business School in the Fall of 2008. The combination of work and study helped me both prepare better for my career and make use of all of Fletcher’s many resources.
Since graduating from Fletcher, I have worked for Ecom as a commodities trader in China, Australia, and the United States. On a given day I may work on a deal with a large Asian trade house or U.S. producer; buy and sell commodity derivatives; write a market report or policy memo; analyze futures prices or supply and demand information; examine a sustainability project; or prepare a case for international arbitration. And it was my experience at Fletcher that helped prepare me for all of these endeavors and more.
Tagged with: Five-Year Updates
In the first of our new series of posts by members of the faculty, Michael Klein, William L. Clayton Professor of International Economic Affairs, tells us about his experience at the U.S. Treasury and how it has shaped his teaching and scholarship since he returned. Prof. Klein currently teaches International Finance, International Economic Policy Analysis, Finance, Growth and Business Cycles, and Quantitative Methods.
In March 2010 I received, completely by surprise, an email from the Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Treasury asking me whether I would be interested in serving as Chief Economist in the Office of International Affairs. This was a novel opportunity for me. I had served as a visiting scholar at a number of institutions (the International Monetary Fund, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, New York, and San Francisco), but had spent my entire career in academia. I was excited by the prospect of using the skills and knowledge that I have developed through teaching and scholarship in a government position. I was also curious to see how policy was developed and executed. And, not inconsequentially, I was happy and proud to serve my country.
The eighteen months that I spent at Treasury were a very exciting time; it was a period during which there was a halting recovery from the Great Recession in the United States, a re-evaluation of the international monetary system (especially with regards to the use of capital controls), an on-going crisis in the euro-area, and international tensions over exchange rates (during this time, the Finance Minister of Brazil declared that the United States was engaged in “currency wars” and there was continuing controversy about the renminbi/dollar exchange rate). I analyzed these issues, as well as many others, writing memos that drew on my research and teaching experience. I also participated in high-level meetings with officials from other countries. My time at Treasury was one of the high marks of my professional career.
Since returning to Fletcher in the autumn of 2012, I have been able to draw on my experiences at Treasury in a variety of ways. I developed a new course, International Economic Policy Analysis, which teaches students to use economics and statistical skills and frameworks in a practical policy setting. My teaching in two other courses, International Finance and Finance, Growth and Business Cycles, has been enriched by my interaction with policy and experiences in government. And the trajectory of my research was also influenced by my time at Treasury; over the past two years, I have focused on the topic of capital controls, a subject that I became interested in while working in Washington. My research on this topic now includes a 2012 article for the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, another article that was presented at the IMF’s Annual Research Conference in November 2013 and will be published in the IMF’s flagship research journal, and a third that is currently under review.
Like other Fletcher faculty members, I am able to draw on scholarship as well as policy experience to provide students with an education that is both deeply informed by theory and scholarship and well-grounded in practical, real-world experience and concerns.
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