As a service to our applicants, as well as to my Admissions pals, I want to encourage you to select an email address that you will use in corresponding with us, and then stick with that address.  Our application management system files all materials on the basis of your address; if you use multiple addresses, messages and materials that you send to us can be lost.

If you’re thinking that it isn’t your responsibility to worry about our filing system, you’re absolutely right!  But if you don’t worry about it, then you may find us pestering you for some item that you have emailed to us.  We can search for it when it disappears into the void, but it’s easiest to keep it from going in that direction in the first place.  I should mention that this is true for many other graduate schools that are using the same application system.  Sticking to one email address will be a good policy for your correspondence with all your graduate schools.

This is one of the first Admissions Tips blog posts of the new application cycle, but there are plenty more to come.  Stay tuned!


Every now and then, a student, graduate, or professor asks to provide a blog post.  This past summer, Professor Jeswald Salacuse offered to describe how he came to write his newest bookProfessor Salacuse is Fletcher’s first Tufts Distinguished Professor and Braker Professor of Law, and he teaches and researches on international negotiation, law and development, and international investment law.  Also worth noting — Professor Salacuse was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria in the mid-1960s.  You can also read about him from his Faculty Spotlight profile.

My new book, Real Leaders Negotiate! – Gaining, Using, and Keeping the Power to Lead Through Negotiation, published in August by Palgrave Macmillan, grew out of the disconnect that I saw between standard leadership literature and my own experience as a leader.  Conventional wisdom holds that leaders command to achieve their goals and that the effectiveness of their commands depends on their “vision,” “charisma,” “presence” or other mystical qualities that management scholars may dream up.  Having served as a leader of various organizations over the last thirty-five years, including two graduate schools (one being Fletcher), several professional and academic associations, international tribunals, and corporate boards, little of what I read in the literature seemed to apply to the leadership positions I had held.  What I did in those roles was to negotiate — constantly.  So for me, to lead is to negotiate.

That insight became the basis of my book as I explored the way leaders used negotiation to achieve their goals, both organizational and personal — an exploration that led me to focus on two important facets of leadership: 1) leadership tasks and 2) the leadership lifecycle.  Both require skillful negotiation.

Negotiating Leadership Tasks

Leadership scholars tend to focus on what leaders give to their organizations.  In short, they look at leadership from the supply side.  It is equally, if not more, important to examine leadership from the demand side, to ask what organizations and groups need from their leaders.  Real Leaders Negotiate! concludes that organizations look to their leaders to negotiate the following seven daily tasks of leadership:

  1. Every organization, large and small, needs its leader to help establish its goals.  That does not mean that the leader simply declares a vision for the organization and then commands its members to follow it.  The process of goal setting in a complex organization with diverse members is usually a complicated, lengthy, and elaborate multilateral negotiation that requires skillful coalition building.
  2. All organizations want their leaders to cause their members, each with individual wills and often competing interests, to work for the common good.  Through the art of negotiation, skillful leaders seek to integrate the persons they lead into a single organization, team, or community, an essential requirement for achieving its goals.
  3. Conflict management.  Conflict is inevitable within organizations, and their members look to their leaders to resolve conflicts before they become destructive, a task that requires resorting to negotiation and mediation.
  4. Effective leaders educate, coach, guide, and advise the people they lead and thus give them the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out the jobs of the organization.  Arriving at the right educational process often requires the leader to engage in negotiation.
  5. Organizational members turn to their leaders for motivation and encouragement.  To determine which incentives will best motivate employees, leaders usually engage widely in negotiation throughout the organization.
  6. Leaders are constantly representing the organizations they lead to the outside world, whether they are negotiating a labor contract or attending a reception given by a customer, persuading the company’s board of directors to improve the bonus system, or seeking to arrange a merger with another corporation.  Representation is essentially all negotiation.
  7. Trust creation.  Without the trust of organizational members, a leader will be unable to perform the other leadership tasks effectively and thus to lead.  Leaders can build trust through negotiation, specifically by finding ways to meet other parties’ interests and demonstrating their ability to follow through on their promises.

Negotiating the Leadership Lifecycle

An individual’s leadership has a lifecycle that passes through three phases: birth, life, and ultimately death.  What gives life to leadership is power, a quality that one may define as the ability to influence other persons in desired ways.  The three phases of leadership are about negotiating leadership power.  Phase One is leadership attainment, in which a person negotiates to obtain the power to lead, a phase that concerns not just achieving a desired leadership position on the organization chart but also the necessary leadership role, that is, the ability and resources to carry out the duties of that position in a desired way.  Phase Two is leadership action, in which an individual uses leadership power to advance the interests of the organization, as well as those of the leader.  As we saw, negotiation is fundamental for effective exercise of those leadership powers by accomplishing the necessary leadership tasks.

Phase Three of the leadership lifecycle is leadership preservation and loss.  A leader’s position is never permanent.  As a backbench MP in the House of Commons once shouted out in a debate to unseat the Conservative Party’s leader, “Leadership is a leasehold, not a freehold.”  No matter the circumstances, a person’s leadership always faces challenges and threats.  Sometimes a leader can withstand them; in other instances, he or she must yield leadership powers to another person willingly or only after severe struggle.  In either case, the challenged leader will invariably employ negotiation techniques and strategies to hold on to a leadership position or, when that is not possible, exit leadership under the most advantageous conditions possible.  Every wise leader should know when to stop — good advice not only for leaders, but also for writers of leadership blogs.


I’m running late in preparing a blog post for today, but I hope you’ll enjoy this video that was shared by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.  Geoff and Claire are Fletcher grads who met while they were students and have gone forward to create both careers and a family.  Even if, like me, you don’t speak Arabic, this is a cute story!

You can find the original video on the Embassy’s Facebook page, in their Meet a Diplomat series.


Welcome back to the Admissions Blog everyone!  It’s exciting to start a new academic year, though also a bit daunting as the pace of life has picked up dramatically since the sleepy August days of last week.  Already we’re turning our attention to travel and on-campus visitor activities.  Students, new and returning, are meandering through the building, pursuing a special Shopping Day schedule, before the official start of classes tomorrow.  It’s all happening!

An important marker of the start of the new academic year is Convocation, which will take place on Friday.  Those who can’t attend can still participate virtually through the live broadcast on the Fletcher Facebook page.  Tune in Friday at 2:00 p.m. EDT (UTC -4) to hear remarks from Dean Stavridis and Reeta Roy, F89, president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, an organization that has partnered with Fletcher in the past.

Between now and Friday, students will nail down their course selections for the semester and enjoy a few days when they are completely caught up with assignments.  We in Admissions will continue booking flights and hotels and contacting alumni to help out during our visits.  On my own to-do list for today is to ship materials for the New York APSIA fair on Tuesday.  If you’re planning to be there, be sure to say hi!

The new year is underway and we look forward to meeting you here at Fletcher or on the road!


I had the honor and pleasure yesterday to attend the dissertation defense of one of our PhD students.  I can’t always make it to these milestone events, but when I can, I do.  Even when the subject matter is completely outside of anything I’ve ever known, it’s inspiring to celebrate the result of so many years of intense research and study.

On another note, new videos have been added to a collection answering the question “Why Fletcher?”  Here’s one, from an alumna at the World Bank (where, I hear, you can bump into a Fletcher grad around any corner).

Tagged with:

Returning to the Class of 2016, sometimes an update on a Fletcher graduate also captures information on one of our programs.  Although it’s a tiny percentage of graduates who find a post-student life here, some do.  And one of those is Matthew Merighi, F16, who for the past year has been the Assistant Director of Maritime Studies at Fletcher.

I never expected to end up working with Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program (MSP).  My original plan was to attend Fletcher and use my degree to go back into the U.S. federal government.  But obviously, Fletcher had an effect on me.

Before coming to Fletcher, I was a civilian employee in the U.S. Air Force’s International Affairs Office.  I worked as a liaison with other air forces, as an executive officer for a one-star general, and a tradeshow director for a member of the Senior Executive Service.  I came to Fletcher planning to study security studies to deepen my knowledge of the field before going back into public service.

The breakthrough came when taking Professor (now Emeritus) John Perry’s Maritime History and Globalization course in the fall of 2014.  No one who took a course with Professor Perry has ever forgotten it.  He was a fantastic lecturer and he presented the maritime domain in such a compelling way that I was hooked.  I worked for him as a research assistant and continued to take courses under Professor Rocky Weitz, F02, F08, MSP’s current director, when he came back to Fletcher in 2015.

MSP’s real strength is its interdisciplinary approach, linking security, business, environment, and law.  It added a salt-water perspective to how I view the world and forced me to think about international issues in a holistic way.  As an example, the introductory course in the field, Global Maritime Affairs, touches on a broad array of topics ranging from military buildups in the South China Sea to the ecological threats facing global fisheries and the economics of the shipping industry.  To be an effective maritime policy expert, you need to be literate in all of the dimensions of those challenges, rather than narrowly focused on a single specialty.

For my part, I feel very fortunate to be where I am.  Maritime studies as a field is quickly going from a niche topic to a cornerstone of policy and business.  Whether it is understanding the Arctic, climate change, or global trade patterns, having a maritime perspective is a key distinguisher for would-be practitioners.  MSP is also working on original research into cutting-edge maritime security issues, expanding its offerings of both academic and professional events, and supporting student projects in all maritime fields.  Outside of Fletcher, I also am building a nonprofit startup, Blue Water Metrics, to crowdsource data-gathering on ocean health as part of a Fletcher co-founding team.  Being a part of a new venture, alongside my work with MSP’s efforts to train the next generation of maritime leaders, is truly an honor.

(The video below is Matthew’s talk from the Fletcher Ideas Exchange.)

The icing on the top of this year’s admissions process cake is Orientation.  It’s our first opportunity to see all the new members of the Fletcher community at once and it’s their chance to come together as a family — ready to study together and support each other in so many other ways.

As a practical matter, it’s also the point when nearly all former-applicant/now-student concerns shift from Admissions to other Fletcher offices.  Until scholarships are renewed next spring, nearly all questions are best answered by other offices, though we’re always a resource for helping students find their answers.

Today the newbies will be attending several sessions at which general information will be shared with them.  Tomorrow we’ll help promote community building.  I’ll be among the staff members who are leading ice-breaker sessions.  (Since I’m a little shy myself, I’ll be running introvert-friendly activities that I hope will work well for all.)  The rest of the week continues with a similar mix of information sharing and community building.

And with that, another academic year begins!


Even I — who strongly discourages applicants from waiting until the last minute to submit an application — wouldn’t suggest you zap your app to us for 2018 enrollment now.  But I would definitely encourage you to check it out, figure out what materials you’ll need, and start thinking about your essays and recommendations.  If you’re applying for January enrollment, there’s less than two months to the October 15 deadline, and you should start moving on the process.  To that end, I’m happy to say the 2018 application is available now.

While we’re providing updates, please remember that the interview calendar, for both Skype and on-campus interviews, is waiting for you.  Sign up now, or risk missing out on your preferred date/time.  And if you’re planning a visit, you may want to see what classes are available.  Here’s a schedule.

And because it’s summer, a good time for linking to silly videos, take a ride with Jumbo (the Tufts mascot) and tour the campus.  Jumbo finally reaches Fletcher at the end of his ride, passing our summer construction on the way.  We sometimes describe Fletcher as if it were standing by itself somewhere, but in fact, we’re situated on a lovely campus, as Jumbo will show you.


Today, with less than a week until new students arrive for Orientation, Colin Steele offers his perspective on Fletcher’s special qualities.  Colin will soon start his second year in the MALD program and you may recall that he provided reading suggestions earlier this summer.

If you’re looking at Fletcher, you’re looking at a lot of reading.  However, while it’s certain that you’ll read, there’s some room to choose what you read — and that decision can make an enormous difference in the course of your education.  More than perhaps any other school, the most valuable syllabus at Fletcher is the one you assemble and assign yourself.

Let me give you an example.  On a recent Sunday morning, I started the day as usual, with a cup of coffee and a book.  Now, I have a few bookcases’ worth of good options in my room and a handful of books in progress scattered throughout the house, but I’ve always had a wandering literary eye.  Sure enough, while the coffee was brewing, I cast a glance through the cabinet of previous students’ left-behind books and found one with a subtitle I couldn’t resist: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy.

As an international security student with a particular interest in strategy, this book instantly proved to be right up my alley.  As I tore through it, though, I realized I likely would never have discovered it had I not come to Fletcher: however “essential” to understanding competition and strategy, Understanding Michael Porter is a business book — the sort of book I least expected to be reading in graduate school.

Like many Fletcher students, I investigated plenty of international affairs, law, and business programs before ultimately settling on the MALD program.  Interesting and useful as those fields are, none of them alone seemed to be asking or answering the kinds of questions that I wanted to tackle.  In contrast, the more I got to know Fletcher, the more eager I became to go to a school where I could pursue my own field of interest while also being exposed to others: to take classes with people of different backgrounds, to read their books, and to learn something about how they see and interact with the world.

This sort of variety is quintessentially Fletcher, and, one year in, I consider it (in Michael Porter’s terms) the most uniquely valuable part of a Fletcher education.  Many very good schools read Porter or Clausewitz; here, I’ve had a chance to read both.  And, whereas much of that (like Understanding Michael Porter) was purely fortuitous during my first year, capturing more value from Fletcher’s variety has become central to my strategy for my second year and beyond.

So, if you’re looking at Fletcher — as an incoming or continuing student about to return to campus, or as a prospective student still considering an application — I encourage you to develop your own strategy to make Fletcher work for you.  Where do you need to go deeper?  Where do you want to get broader?  Which peers, professors, or authors can help you get where you want to go?

Get a cup of coffee with someone, or crack open a new book.  You never know where it might take you.


On Thursday and Friday, Fletcher will be the site of an event jointly organized with MIT: the Science Diplomacy: Dissertation Enhancement Workshop.  According to the organizers, the two-day workshop aims to provide participants with an understanding of science diplomacy theory and practice, as well as “soft skills such as negotiation and dispute resolution techniques in relation to scientific issues in national and international settings.”  You’ll find the full program here.  The workshop is organized by Fletcher’s Science Diplomacy Center, with science diplomacy an area of increasing interest among students and faculty.


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