I’m a little late in sharing updates from the Class of 2016, but there’s no time like the present to run the first of the posts from alumni who have completed one year post-Fletcher. We’ll hear today from Miranda Bogen, and it doesn’t surprise me that Miranda was the first to answer my call for updates. Our first interaction was when she contacted me, only weeks after arriving at Fletcher, to ask if I’d be interested in a post that she wrote with her new classmate Aditi (who then went on to write for the blog for two years). And Miranda didn’t just start her Fletcher experience busy — she stayed busy throughout her two years. So let’s let her tell us what she’s doing now.
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I spell-checked my capstone for the seventeenth time, powered through my last final, and bid farewell to Medford to join the flock of migratory Fletcherites making our way southward to the other epicenter of the Fletcher Community — Washington, DC!
I came to Fletcher to study how technology impacts international affairs; I was inspired by the waves of digital activism bubbling up across the Middle East during the Arab Spring, and curious how online platforms like Google and Facebook were navigating constraints and demands of oppressive governments while simultaneously rooting for the protesters, who were exercising exactly the sort of free expression that these companies endorsed. Like many “career-switchers” who come to Fletcher for a professional pivot, I was nervous about the prospect of trying to break into a new field without directly relevant work experience.
Luckily, Fletcher provided exactly the springboard I needed. The interdisciplinary curriculum let me take courses ranging from cybersecurity to international business law, and together with a group of fellow students interested in technology, I launched the Tech@Fletcher student group to explore technology in the realms of diplomacy, development, innovation, and business. I was thrilled to be selected as a Google Policy Fellow during the summer between my first and second years, an internship that brought me to DC to coordinate educational programs on Capitol Hill for Congressional staff to learn about such topics as Internet governance and drone policy (and simultaneously exposed me to the range of organizations and companies engaged in technology policy conversations, a huge help during my job search!).
Aided by a connection I’d forged during my first semester with a Fletcher alum (who I found via LinkedIn and who responded to my initial cold email within 15 minutes with an offer to help), I was lucky to secure a job several months before graduating as the fifth member of a small public interest consulting firm that focuses on the intersection of technology and civil rights. The hybrid consulting/policy job seemed to require the exact set of skills I learned at Fletcher through course like Field Studies in Global Consulting and Writing to Influence Policy and the Global Debate, and while I was initially hesitant to join such a young organization (coming from a scrappy nonprofit, I thought working for a larger company would be a valuable next step), several people I admire recommended I give it a chance — and the decision to take that leap has turned out even better than I could have imagined.
In my job, I get to work on cutting edge issues like algorithmic decisions, big data ethics, and online hate speech with some of the leading civil rights organizations and foundations in the country. We work with advocacy groups like the ACLU and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, as well as companies like Google, Facebook, and AirBnB, to address issues of discrimination in online platforms. Plus, I frequently find myself in meetings with the very same people who I studied while I was at Fletcher. No pressure!
The advice I always give prospective students is that starting graduate studies with a solid idea of the career you want will help immensely in choosing courses, prioritizing extracurriculars, and picking a capstone topic, and I stand by that advice. But on the other hand, you never know when something you do for fun or to fulfill a requirement will come in handy: It turns out the the Environmental Economics class I squeezed into my final semester has been surprisingly relevant to Internet policy issues. Who’d have thought?
Other work I did at Fletcher has also popped up in unexpected and gratifying ways. A few months after graduating, I converted part of my capstone (which explored how technology companies make foreign policy decisions) into a longform article about the geopolitical quagmires of Google Maps. Mostly, I wanted at least some of what I’d spent months working on to see the light of day — and then, out of the blue, my piece was picked up by Newsweek! Perhaps even better, the history of corporate social responsibility that I researched and the analytical framework that I developed for my capstone have helped me on a daily basis as I interface with the tech companies that I analyzed.
I couldn’t be happier to be pursuing my dream career and living in Washington. For those choosing between graduate programs in DC and Fletcher, I wholeheartedly endorse studying in the Boston area: From the speakers and opportunities at Fletcher, Harvard, and MIT to the independent coffee shops in Davis Square where I wrote all of my papers, to the bonds I formed while holed up in Blakeley Hall during the epic winter of ‘15, Fletcher gave me so much more than just a degree. I constantly look back on my two years in Medford and know with absolute certainty that I would not have gotten so far so quickly after graduate school had I studied anywhere else.
One of my favorite parts of my Fletcher experience was procrastinating on my reading in order to weave all of my classmates’ international adventures into the yearly video tradition, “Where the Hell is Fletcher.” While we had a blast watching this and other videos together in ASEAN as we closed out our final semester with the infamous Fletcher Follies, my brilliant Fletcher friends are again scattered all over the world as development economists, diplomats, bankers, and business strategists — and I can’t wait to follow their adventures!
Thinking of applying for graduate school admission for 2018 (either January or September)? It’s not too early to move beyond merely “thinking” to a more active phase. And it’s time for me to give you a little guidance.
First, please note that the 2018 Fletcher application is not yet on the website and there is no value to starting to fill in the blanks and essays on what you’ll find there. On August 1, we’ll take down the current application and replace it about two weeks later with the updated one. But even as you hold off on starting to work on the application, you’re certainly free (encouraged!) to peruse the 2017 version and prepare the different elements you’ll need. Just to get you started, here’s your list of what a 2018 application will include.
- The form
- Your transcripts (any transcript, including for a study-abroad semester, that is needed to give a complete picture of your undergraduate record)
- Test scores (GRE or GMAT, and TOEFL or IELTS for non-native English speakers)
- Your résumé
- Two recommendations, with one from a professor who can reflect on your academic work. Submitting a third recommendation is optional.
- Two essays, one of which could be called a statement of purpose
- A scholarship application, if you would like to apply for an award
We’re not changing our essay questions this year, so here’s what you’ll need to write:
□ Essay 1 (600-800 words)
Fletcher’s Committee on Admissions seeks to ensure that there is a good match between each admitted student and the School.
Please tell us your goals for graduate study at Fletcher and for your career. Describe the elements of your personal, professional, and/or academic background that have prepared you for your chosen career path. Why is The Fletcher School the right place to pursue your academic objectives and to prepare you to meet your professional goals? Why have you selected the degree program to which you are applying?
If you are planning to pursue a dual degree, please be sure to address this interest in your personal statement.
□ Essay 2 (500 words maximum)
To help the Committee on Admissions get to know you better, please share an anecdote, or details about an experience or personal interest, that you have not elaborated upon elsewhere in your application.
For further details on all of that, including the variations (there are a few) for the different degree programs, check out the application instructions.
Those are the basics, but let me drill down a little bit on where you might direct your July/August energy. It is not at all early for requesting recommendations. Your recommenders will thank you if you give them extra time. Remember that one recommendation should reflect your academic ability, while we’d generally suggest that the other should come from a professional context. Most important for your application strategy: think about content the recommenders can add to your application, beyond the basics. If you have worked at three organizations, but one organization was the most important to your future career, I’d suggest looking to that organization for your professional recommendation. This is really common sense, but you’ll want to dedicate a few minutes to being common sensible.
Also not too early: lining up your standardized tests. If you haven’t already taken the GRE/GMAT/TOEFL/IELTS, or if you know you want to retest, get your test date and start practicing. Why should you practice? Because familiarity with the test format will enable you to achieve your maximum score. Being unfamiliar with the test will cause you to waste time and your score will suffer.
It doesn’t matter what country or profession you come from — there’s no reason why you can’t organize your academic and professional experience into a tidy résumé. There are a zillion sample résumés online, and the format you’ll want is informative and easy to read. Generally, you’ll list your experience in reverse chronological order (that is, starting with your current activity). A résumé for a graduate school application should be between one and three pages long. (I really like when they’re no more than two pages, but I’m feeling generous. People have different experiences and some of those are hard to describe.) Pulling together a résumé can take some time. That’s why I’m suggesting you start now. Once it’s done, you can tweak it or not, but at least you won’t be scrambling to write it on the day before the application deadline.
I’m going to offer more tips throughout the fall, but I’ll close with one last picky technical point. You and we will all be happiest if you use only one email address when corresponding with us. All your stuff goes into your “file” on the basis of your name and email address. If you want us to be able to find things, don’t lead the system to misfile them. Also, if you’re applying to graduate school (or a job, for that matter), it’s time to get yourself a professional sounding email address. No more email@example.com. Please. Just some variation on your name. Remember to check your email frequently after you start your applications.
That should do it for this time in the summer. Note that I’ve given you three assignments: line up your test dates; request your recommendations; and pull together your résumé. If you complete those three things by the end of July, you’ll be in a good position for the next stages of your application process.
With each of the utterly optional summer reading lists I’ve posted so far, another has emerged. Last week, Roxanne (who wrote for the blog from 2012-14, while she was in the MALD program, and is now a PhD candidate) asked me if I would like an additional list, this time focused on writers who are less often represented by traditional curricula. I was delighted to receive her offer and I’m even more delighted to share her suggestions with you. I’ll let Roxanne take it from here.
When we founded the Gender Analysis in International Studies Field of Study at Fletcher, a key tenet was that gender is not merely about identities or social relationships. Rather, it is also about institutions, notions of credibility and authority, and — at its heart — about power. Because gender does not exist in a vacuum, we considered how it intersects with race, social class, ethnicity, and other vectors, to affect conceptions and experiences of agency, vulnerability, power, or justice.
As we looked at syllabi, we asked ourselves: Who is considered an authority on international studies and why? Which texts count as “the canon” — and which voices and opinions are left out of that imagination? These are questions I have taken to asking about my leisure reading as well. How are my notions of what is worth reading colored by gendered, ethnicized, and racialized expectations surrounding credibility and authority? With that in mind, and with a commitment to interrupting the white-American-male streak on my own bookshelves, I am delighted to share a few of my favorite reads from the past year.
A common theme in the books I have read this year has been that of how people negotiate their relationship to solitude and their yearning for community. I discovered Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone on the end-of-year round-up of favorite books in the Brainpickings newsletter. Laing’s words at the conclusion of a tour through solitude, art, and urban alienation felt particularly timely: “Loneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is a collective; it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each another.”
Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing tackles the ways in which legacies of power, oppression, and loss layer atop each other from generation to generation. It is the kind of book that lodges itself in your mind, and it reminded me of a mix between Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical realism and Hanya Yanagihara’s punching descriptions of life-long hardship.
Part of my professional work in the past year has centered on understanding the journeys of refugees, through a study I have co-managed with Professor Kim Wilson in Greece, Jordan, Turkey, and Denmark. During the research methods summer seminar I participated in last year, one instructor had pointed out that academic writing is anemic when it only draws on scholarly texts. A number of literary works on the experience of displacement have since been piled on my desk alongside our own footnotes.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s short story collection The Refugees stirred me on many snowy February nights and Roberto Bolaño’s words in its epigraph still travel with me: “I wrote this book for the ghosts, who, because they’re outside of time, are the only ones with time.” Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends, a long-form essay on immigration to the United States, also rang close to home. Luiselli weaves her own insights as a new immigrant — a “resident alien,” in the words of Luiselli, the law, and my own experience — with her observations of the experience of Central American children seeking to avoid deportation from the United States. Luiselli’s articulation of “the great theater of belonging” that immigration and nationhood invite and require has accompanied me as we work on the final report of our own refugee study.
One of the losses of displacement (even chosen displacement) is the ease of one’s own language. I was born and raised in Greece, but, by virtue of where I live and my current research on Colombia, my life now unfolds primarily in English and in Spanish. Until recently, I used to interact with Greek predominantly in the context of bureaucracy. When my friend Niki introduced me to Titos Patrikios’ The Temptation of Nostalgia, the title felt like a phrase in which I have lived. The book itself did not disappoint, and it prompted a return to Greek literature and a reacquaintance with the Greek language of joy, dreaming, and lightness.
I am new to short stories and have discovered two of my favorite collections in the past year. Kathleen Collins’ Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? came into my life through an excerpt in literary magazine Granta’s “Legacies of Love” issue. Collins writes injustice and structural violence with such subtlety that a sense of activating grief lingered long after I finished the book. My other favorite short story collection was Randa Jarrar’s Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. Jarrar writes about foreignness, youth, queerness, desire, and loss with a lightness that leaves her readers dizzy and that has me wanting to read much more of her work.
Finally, what is on my summer to-read list? Besides a lot of research-oriented reading on the Colombian peace process in preparation for my upcoming fieldwork, I am looking forward to Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (furthering the refugee theme), Hisham Matar’s The Return (a memoir of, among other issues, fatherlessness), and Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay With Me, a novel tracing a Nigerian couple’s parallel accounts of a marriage. Happy reading!
Some weeks ago, a blog reader named Rumal asked me if I would pull together some information about offerings in Human Rights study at Fletcher. I’m always happy to run with a good suggestion, but I knew it would require some research. Fortunately for me, the Admissions Office front desk has received well-educated staffing from a job-hunting new graduate, Rafael. I asked Rafael to do some digging, and here’s what he reports.
Fletcher’s interdisciplinary curriculum allows students to develop an integrated understanding of global challenges. For a school of law and diplomacy, though, few issues are as central to the curriculum as international human rights. Accordingly, there are several courses, most of them offered within Fletcher’s International Law and Organizations Division, which approaches human rights from an international law perspective. (For students in the LLM program, Human Rights Law and International Justice is one of the four curricular options from which they may choose, if they wish.)
Among our law faculty, Hurst Hannum, Professor of International Law, offered courses in International Human Rights Law, Current Issues in Human Rights, and Nationalism, Self-Determination and Minority Rights during the past academic year. Students also took courses in International Criminal Justice, Transitional Justice, and International Humanitarian Law, taught by Fletcher professors Cecile Aptel and John Cerone. In addition, most of our professors are not only teachers, but also scholars and, at times, advisors to organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or Amnesty International, so that students are exposed to cutting-edge research and real-world experience.
In addition to courses that explicitly deal with international human rights, seminars that are primarily concerned with other issues often allow students to produce research papers or policy papers in which they can combine multiple areas of interest. In Memory Politics: Truth, Justice, and Redress, for example, students trace the expansion of, and challenges to, the regime of human rights and international law by focusing on case studies such as Rwanda, South Africa, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru. Law and Development, too, requires students to produce a research paper on any one aspect of the emerging field of international development law. Questions of distributive justice, the rule of law, and informal justice systems are not only of considerable importance to social and economic development, but also important components of the contemporary human rights discourse.
Another opportunity for Fletcher students to follow their interests and develop expertise in a particular area is the Capstone Project, which can be a traditional academic thesis or can take an entirely different form, like a business plan, policy memo, or podcast. Recent graduates passionate about human rights have researched and written on the negotiation for an international treaty on business and human rights, the role of the international private legal sector in contributing to rule of law, development, access to justice and human rights in the developing world, and child victims of armed conflict.
Following their Fletcher experience, recent graduates have worked for organizations including The Malala Fund, the U.S. Institute for Peace, and the UN, as well as government agencies across the world.
Thanks, Rafael! By fortunate coincidence, after Rafael had written up his report, we heard from a recent graduate who was active in the Human Rights field, and she offered to add her thoughts on the Human Rights Project, a student organization. Here’s Natalie’s description of her out-of-the-classroom activities.
The Human Rights Project (HRP) is entirely student run and has two components: public events and a research platform, the Practicum, through which HRP distinguishes itself from other student groups. The Practicum serves as a collaborative place for research and multidisciplinary projects that are actionable and forward-looking; we work for a variety of clients outside of Tufts — we juggled five projects this year alone with a variety of organizations and research topics such as hate speech, minority rights, CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women), Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2030), and R2P (Responsibility to Protect). It’s an inclusive place for students to hone practical skills in research design, teamwork, and project management. Professor Hannum and Professor Cerone have been the gatekeepers, but will pass the torch to our new human rights professor in the of Fall 2017.
The work requires brain power and teamwork, so every semester HRP looks for incoming students who are critical thinkers and passionate about the future of human rights. If you are interested in being a leader or member, visit our website for more information to learn how you can get involved.
My thanks to Rafael and Natalie for their perspective on Human Rights study at Fletcher! As my final word, I’ll refer you to a 2014 Admissions Blog post about the origins of the Human Rights Practicum, which I rediscovered while putting the finishing touches on today’s post.
Tagged with: Human Rights Practicum
This evening, Fletcher will host Boston Summerfest, which means that at 5:30, the Hall of Flags will suddenly throw off its summer quiet and lively up. It’ll be…Summerfestive! Jointly with our colleagues from Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Princeton, we’ll welcome Fletcher students, alumni of all our schools, and prospective students interested in international affairs graduate study. We’re excited about this first-ever Boston Summerfest event.
Later this summer, we’ll also participate in similar events in Washington, DC and New York City, the two cities where Summerfest has been held before. If you’re interested in any of the Summerfest dates, register now at the links above. But registered or not, if you’re in the neighborhood, don’t hesitate to turn up tonight! Walk-ins will be welcome.
We look forward to seeing you here or at a future Summerfest!
In an annual tradition, we’ve asked recent graduates and current students to offer a Coffee Hour wherever they’re spending the summer. These are informal events where prospective applicants and incoming students can sit and chat with someone who’s in the know about the program. Here’s the list of locations where folks will be grabbing a coffee and pulling up a chair. For updated details, check the Coffee Hours website.
Boston, MA (Cambridge)
Boston, MA (Somerville)
Durban, South Africa
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kansas City, KS
Mexico City, Mexico
New Delhi, India
New York, NY (Manhattan)
New York, NY (Brooklyn)
Ramallah, West Bank
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seoul, South Korea
Tagged with: Coffee Hours
Continuing the Q&A advice from the Admissions Graduate Assistants (GAs), we’ll turn first to a critical piece of wisdom — where to study. As I noted yesterday, the GAs answered these questions a few weeks ago, at the very end of the spring semester.
What is your favorite on-campus study space?
Ashley: I like sitting outside of Ginn Library most of the time, because there’s plenty of light from outside and sometimes you get the pleasant break of a friend walking by and saying hello. But if that’s not studious enough for you, the third floor of Ginn also has a bank of windows that makes working inside a lot more tolerable!
Brooklyn: The third floor of Ginn Library. There are windows and sunlight and you can pretend that you are outside doing something more exciting than finance problem sets.
Cindy: I am the kind of person who likes my surroundings to be quiet when I am reading material for my classes. I enjoy sitting in the Ginn Library or reserving study rooms in the Cabot basement. If I am getting simple tasks done (checking e-mails, getting organized), I like the high-top tables in the Hall of Flags.
Dristy: In my first year, my favorite study space was the area outside Ginn Library, both for the daylight as well as the potential to socialize. And in my second year, I spent most of my time in the Mugar Computer Lab that only Fletcher students have access to. This was mostly because I took classes that required the use of certain software available on school computers, but it proved to be a great study and work space.
How/where did you meet most of your Fletcher friends? (In class, Orientation, student activities?)
Ashley: I had the benefit of both of my roommates being in pre-session classes while I was getting settled in Somerville — so I met a lot of folks through them. Certainly Orientation was the first big chance to meet new faces, but I think from there friendships developed organically, inside and outside of class, and through the friends I’d already begun to make. I still find myself making new friends, even in my last semester.
Brooklyn: I met most of my Fletcher friends during Orientation, but didn’t really become friends until well along in the first semester. Be open to going to social events, even through your school work might make it feel prohibitive. Think of it as networking!
Cindy: I met most of the people I spend time with in class and during extracurricular activities that I regularly attend. I also met some wonderful people at social hours, which happen on Thursdays. I would recommend forming study/reading groups with classmates as a way to get to know each other, and I also recommend going to as many events as possible during the fall to meet fellow classmates early on.
Dristy: I met most of my closest Fletcher friends in class and at events/activities organized by student organizations. Those were the natural ways to meet people with shared interests while spending time doing what we enjoy.
What is something you regret not doing while at Fletcher? (Help incoming students to avoid making the same mistake.)
Ashley: To be honest, I am struggling to answer this question — it seems as though I’ve done a lot in two years here! — but I suppose I wish I had gone into Boston more often. I already know the city pretty well, but there are always new things to do and places to visit. It’s just too easy to remain in the Fletcher environs, as there is no shortage of things to do and people to see here, either!
Brooklyn: I regret not applying to internships sooner. Not sure where you want to be? Who cares! If you apply to an investment bank and decide later on that it’s not a good fit for you, then you can always turn down an offer. On the other hand, you will never get an offer if you missed the application deadlines. You’ll never learn to swim if you don’t get in the pool!
Cindy: I regret not going to any of the Open Mic Nights this year. I heard awesome things about them, and I wish I had made the time for at least one. I also regret having a lot of late afternoon and evening classes this semester. I missed some really great events that I wish I could have gone to.
Dristy: As I wrap up my time at Fletcher, when I look back, I feel honored to have had this journey, but there are two things that I will always regret not doing enough of during my time here. First, I wish I had taken more advantage of office hour with professors. I think it would have allowed me to strengthen my relationships with them and added significantly to my learning experience. Second, I regret not participating enough in school-wide events, especially in my second year. As my course load increased with the semester, it became more difficult to prioritize attending events, such as talks by guest speakers, panel discussions, etc. These events have proven to be incredible opportunities to expand my knowledge and understanding of topics outside class and beyond my area of interest, so I definitely wish I had attended more of those during my time here.
What additional tips would you offer to incoming students?
Ashley: Enjoy your time at Fletcher! With graduation right around the corner for me, I can assure you it goes by pretty quickly. As important as the work you’ll be doing is, don’t forget to make plenty of time for the truly excellent community of people that Fletcher has to offer.
Brooklyn: Graduate school is what you make of it, so get involved early. Don’t let your dreams be dreams!
Cindy: Don’t be afraid to ask for help; don’t worry about not being able to do everything; have an open mind; put yourself in new situations; and take the time to hang out with your friends! Your time at Fletcher will go by so quickly, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it!
Dristy: I encourage incoming students to take advantage of the Shopping Day, Course Evaluations, and insights from second years/alumni to help them select courses. I would also highly recommend taking the foreign language exam early in your time at Fletcher (especially the oral exam, which in some cases may require you to coordinate with professors outside Tufts).
So far, I’ve shared the lists of suggested (but hardly required) reading, and now I have some advice for incoming students from our Admissions Office Graduate Assistants (GAs). Before they left campus, we asked Ashley, Brooklyn, Cindy, and Dristy (ABC&D) for their answers to a few questions. Their responses are below and will continue tomorrow.
Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?
Ashley: Get a little bit of a plan in order. Some things (your finances!) require more careful planning than others, but it doesn’t hurt to get a good handle on what sorts of classes you might like to take, what your commute to campus will be like, or where you might like to explore in the Boston area. You should be ready to deviate from that plan once you get here, but having given it some thought ahead of time will make those first few weeks a little less overwhelming and will allow you to get your footing more quickly. Already knowing some of my options made it a lot easier to make decisions with all of the new information I got upon arrival.
Brooklyn: Prepare for the equivalency exams! If you have studied a subject before (statistics or economics) you can test out of the lower level classes, but it’s likely that you will need a little bit of a refresher on the content prior to taking the exam. It really helps you get the most out of your time at Fletcher because, since you are only here for two years, you don’t want to waste your time on a class you’ve already taken just because you were too lazy over the summer to crack open a book for a few hours.
Cindy: If you have time off in the summer before you officially come to Fletcher, maybe plan a trip to visit the Boston/Medford/Somerville area, just to get a feel for what it’s like to live here. My husband and I made a trip up to secure housing, and we also took the time to visit the Tufts/Fletcher campus, eat at a couple of great restaurants, and take some scenic drives/walks around the area.
A second thing I would recommend is to brush up on your language skills if you know that you have been out of practice for a little while. I took time over the summer to study Russian, which is the language I plan to test for, which was very helpful for transitioning to Fletcher.
Last, read up about the Design and Monitoring course offered during the August pre-session. It’s only offered once each year, right before the fall semester, and it is also a pretty popular class. I will be taking it this summer before I start my second year, and I wish I had talked to other students about the course when I first started, to see if it was something I really wanted to gain experience in. I am very glad I have a chance to take it in August!
Dristy: I encourage incoming students to rest, relax, and spend time with family and friends before commencing this journey. I also encourage brushing up on foreign language skills over the summer because, once the semester begins, it gets difficult to carve out time to prepare for the exam. Also, those who intend on taking the economics and quantitative equivalency tests, I would encourage them to review the material over the summer. Since the equivalency exams take place during Orientation week, you may not have time to brush up directly before the exams.
For international students, especially those who have not visited or lived in the U.S. before, I strongly encourage you to reach out to current international students to get useful insights and tips on how to navigate some of the basics in the U.S., for example, where to buy (and costs for) bedding, personal care supplies, phone plans, etc.
Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do before starting their Fletcher studies?
Ashley: Don’t stress! Easier said than done, I know. And certainly, don’t feel bad when you inevitably are stressed in your first semester — being back in school can be a huge adjustment, not to mention being (for many people) in a new place, meeting new people, and so on. But you need not add to your anxiety level in these last few months before Fletcher begins with worries about how everything will go, whether you’ll make new friends, if your apartment will be livable, etc. (Everything will go just fine and there are people to help you if it doesn’t. You’ll absolutely make friends, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time in your apartment anyway!)
Brooklyn: Do NOT wait until starting your Fletcher studies to start thinking about bigger picture items such as “What do I want to get out of my time here? Are there any non-academic goals I want to set? Are there any faculty/staff who could be helpful in reaching these goals? Where do I want to intern/work after Fletcher? What sectors really interest me?” School can seem pretty overwhelming at first, but if you have some of the bigger picture items at least somewhat outlined, it helps you fill in the rest of the pieces of the puzzle (like which classes to take and which extracurricular activities to get involved in) as you start moving on your first semester.
Cindy: Do not stress about housing! I looked for hours and days in a row to try and find a place for my husband, dog, and me, and I agonized over it. While it is tough finding a dog-friendly apartment at a reasonable price, we eventually found a place and are happy.
Dristy: It is exciting to think about classes and all the interesting things you are going to learn at Fletcher, but I would suggest incoming students not worry about figuring out classes for the fall semester or how to fulfill the breadth and depth requirements. We offer Shopping Days at the beginning of every semester when many professors give brief introductions to the courses they are offering that semester. I found the Shopping Days incredibly helpful to learn about courses and professors, and they helped me a lot in making decisions about what classes to take.
Wrapping up the reading suggestions for summer 2017 is a list from the faculty. My request to the professors was only that their book picks be interesting or have relevance to the courses they teach, but if they described a selection, I’ve included the explanation. Where there’s no explanation of the book choice, you can find the theme by looking at the professor’s profile.
Beach Music, by Pat Conroy. A relaxing novel before the work begins
Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
The Law of Nations: An Introduction to the International Law of Peace, edited by Sir Claud Humphrey Waldock and James Leslie Brierly
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, by Rebecca Goldstein
The Essential Holmes, edited by Richard A. Posner
“Melian Dialogue,” in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, (translated by Rex Warner)
A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt
West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
Imperium, by Robert Harris
The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, by Thomas Healy
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, by Louis Menand
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
An Imaginary Life, by David Malouf.
While everyone by now should have read Albert Camus’ The Stranger (L’Etranger), it is worth reading again as an introduction to Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, contre-euquete). The latter, a reprise of Camus from the perspective of the Arab victim in The Stranger, received well-deserved critical praise when it was published in 2015. While not as profound as Camus, Daoud’s reply is well worth reading and offers both an anti-colonial counterpoint (not innovative, but well done) and an interesting gloss on existence and identity. It’s probably better to read both in French, if possible, but it’s not necessary to do so.
The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy, by Richard Locke. This book is the most comprehensive study to date evaluating the impact of company codes of conduct on labor standards in global supply chains.
The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done About It, by David Weil. This book argues that widening income inequality has more to do with organizational innovations than technological change.
“Why Diversity Programs Fail,” Harvard Business Review (2016, July 1), by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev. This is an easy to read article with a provocative view of diversity programs.
50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark. If you have not written papers in a long time (or maybe ever) this book contains many helpful insights.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
Professor Pearl Robinson (Professor Robinson is primarily affiliated with the Tufts Department of Political Science but also teaches at Fletcher.)
Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa, by Ousman Oumar Kane. This is one of the best books I’ve read about Africa in the past decade. I consider it a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the political, religious, and intellectual complexities of the Islamic landscape in contemporary Africa.
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
In God’s Name: An Investigation Into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, by David Yallop. This is a tremendous book, regardless of your religious views. There is much more about banking in this book than you might imagine. Given the situation in Italy, this is really must reading.
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West, by Edward Rice. This is an awesome story, it will change you.
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