In the area?  Here (at very short notice — sorry!) is an event you might like to join us for.  The information that flowed my way said:

Fletcher Ideas Exchange (FIE) is the first annual forum for public speaking at the Fletcher School.  Modeled as a TED-type event, this year FIE will feature engaging speeches around a theme that is relevant and thought provoking: media and technology that connect or change the world (Media/Tech to Change/Connect).

Join us Tuesday, April 28th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for an exciting display of the ideas of the future, where students and faculty alike will share with the audience how the power of media and technology will connect us all.

The speakers — who include students, faculty, one alum, and a special guest — will deliver short and engaging speeches, eight to 15 minutes each.  The line-up:

Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti: Flying Cars and The Human Condition
Seth Pate (second-year MALD): New Media in Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement
Prof. Daniel Drezner: Pop Culture in International Relations
Rachel Roberts (visiting student): The Value of Learning Communities in Online Education
Prof. Achim Ladwig: Town Hall Meetings of the Future in Europe
Malini Goel, F03: Should Tomorrow Be (Using Video to Inspire and Tell Your Story)
Muralidhar Selvamani (first-year MALD): The Tale of Two Documentaries
Prof. Edward Schumacher-Mathos: A New Vision for IR Schools in the Platformed World
Dean Davis: Sofar (How Social Media Fueled a Global Music Movement)
Grant Bridgman (first-year MALD): What Do You Want to Know? (Spreading Access to Information in Africa)
Prof. Mihir Mankad: Social Change Television

Check these links for  more information:

Website
Speakers
Register

 

Catching up with an event from earlier this month, I’m happy to be able to share links to results and findings from Lean Lab, co-hosted by Fletcher, the Feinstein International Center, and MIT’s D-Lab.  The Lean Lab was a gathering that grew out of Lean Research to discuss a rigorous, relevant, ethical approach to research in vulnerable settings.  Key players in Lean Lab include Prof. Kim Wilson, as well as our old blog friend, Roxanne Krystalli.  Roxanne shared these links with the community:

  • Key insights from the day can be browsed here.
  • A draft of the Lean Research working paper, as well as a framework of questions to ask ourselves when designing and implementing field research, are available halfway down the page here.
  • Follow @Lean_Research on Twitter for more.

Besides Prof. Wilson and Roxanne, another Fletcher graduate Rachel Gordon F12, worked on the implementation of the event, as did several current Fletcher students.

 

We’re rapidly approaching the one-year post-Fletcher mark for the graduates in the Class of 2014.  Today we meet Julia Leis, whose path from pre-Fletcher to her current location involved several countries on three continents.  Julia used her time at Fletcher to develop her interests and explore new areas, resulting in the perfect job that weaves everything together.

Headshot_JuliaLeisWhile working at an agricultural school for Burmese youth in northern Thailand in March 2011, I confronted two major decisions: 1) which career/life path to choose; and 2) whether to return to the U.S. that August.  I knew I wanted to continue my education and, while my undergraduate studies at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service had prepared me well in international relations, picking the right graduate program was a challenge.

The decision was complicated because I felt I had too many interests.  Urban planning, social enterprise, natural resource management, and public policy all fascinated me, as each area incorporated my previous work experience and passions.  In addition to these interests, I knew I wanted a graduate school with an international focus on development.  Thanks to mentors and supportive family back home in Chicago — and a Fletcher student, who I found through the Fletcher Admissions Blog and who Skyped with me while I was in Thailand — I found the ideal place, where I would have the flexibility and support to pursue multiple avenues of interest: The Fletcher School.

Now, four years after I considered my future plans, I can happily report that enrolling at Fletcher was the best decision I ever could have made.  Not only did I find an incredible group of friends and peers at Fletcher, but I was able to pursue all of my interests in various capacities through courses, by organizing conferences, and in research assistant positions.

The sense of community that I found at Fletcher from the first day was unparalleled.  The first weeks of school were both exciting and overwhelming, as I struggled to find the right balance between building off my previous background and exploring new subject areas.  By the end of my first year, while I knew I wanted to pursue a career abroad, I did not know in what capacity.

Julia Leis, Burkina Faso

Visiting female poultry producers in southwest Burkina Faso, 2013

In between my first and my second year at Fletcher, I was able to pursue an internship with Millennium Challenge Corporation in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, working on agricultural development, M&E, and land tenure reform projects, which allowed me to broaden my development skill set while working in a French-speaking context.

In my second year at Fletcher, I cross-registered for a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, under Visiting Professor David Sanderson, called Design for Urban Disaster.  This course, along with Field Studies in Global Consulting with Prof. Rusty Tunnard, reignited my interests in complex urban issues, resilience, and human-centered design, and I considered more seriously pursuing a career in humanitarian response.  With the support of Prof. Tunnard, I also self-designed a Field of Study in international urban planning and development.  In January 2014, I joined a graduate school field trip with Prof. Sanderson to Léogâne, Haiti, to conduct a participatory evaluation on transitional shelters.

In preparing for life post-Fletcher, I attended an Office of Career Services information session with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the fall semester of my second year, and I decided to apply to their International Development Fellows Program (IDFP).  My interest in the IDFP was further solidified by courses such as Essentials of Humanitarian Action and Gender, Culture, and Conflict in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies with Prof. Dyan Mazurana and Prof. Elizabeth Stites.

CRS selects approximately 20 IDFP fellows each year, and places them across CRS country programs in Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia, and Central America.  I discovered that at least one Fletcher student had done the IDFP each year prior to me in places such as Haiti, Kenya, and Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza.  I was able to connect with these talented alumni, who highlighted what an excellent opportunity the IDFP offered to pursue a humanitarian career abroad, as a majority of fellows will, after nine to ten months, transition to program manager positions within CRS.  I knew that the IDFP would allow me the chance to work closely with communities and partners at the local level, and with an organization I deeply respected.  I was fortunate to be selected and offered a position with the CRS Philippines country program in early May, and my posting was scheduled to begin in September 2014.

As I graduated in May 2014, I needed to find summer employment to get me through to September.  Again, Fletcher provided me and other students with an excellent opportunity to conduct field research related to topics that interested us.  I joined my phenomenally talented research partner Anisha Baghudana (MIB ’15) in Nairobi, Kenya as Junior Research Fellows with the Institute for Business in the Global Context and MasterCard Worldwide.  We completed a qualitative study on how digital innovation is improving urban mobility in Nairobi.  Connecting with Nairobi’s tech and start-up community provided an exciting glimpse into how entrepreneurs are creating solutions to solve some of Nairobi’s biggest urban transport challenges, including traffic congestion, poor road quality, and safety and security for passengers and pedestrians.

Hygiene promotion during shelter and WASH kit distribution in Eastern Samar for Typhoon Hagupit emergency response, 2014

Hygiene promotion during shelter and WASH kit distribution in Eastern Samar for Typhoon Hagupit emergency response, 2014

In my current position as a CRS fellow in the Philippines, where CRS has been working since 1945, I have worked with exceptionally talented Filipino and international colleagues in Manila, Davao, and Tacloban City.  In Eastern Leyte and Samar, CRS is responding with Shelter, WASH, and Livelihoods programming after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the area in November 2013.  I’ve supported multiple projects, including an urban disaster risk reduction program called SUCCESS (Strengthening Urban Communities Capacity to Endure Severe Shocks) in Metro Manila, and the December 2014 Typhoon Hagupit emergency response in Eastern Samar.  My training from the class on Essentials of Humanitarian Action proved extremely useful and applicable, as I helped with shelter and WASH kit distribution in affected communities, wrote situation reports, and attended coordination meetings with local government agencies and UNOCHA.

Like Hanneke, while I dearly miss my family back in Chicago and my Fletcher family, I never cease to be amazed at how close we remain.  Despite being in vastly distant locations now, such as South Sudan, Washington, DC, Uganda, Nepal, Guatemala, and Boston, we support each other in any way we can, especially as the transition after grad school is not always a smooth one.  They have supported me through countless Skype calls, and even with a month-long visit to the Philippines.  It is this unique network of support that so attracted me to Fletcher in the first place, and I know that it will remain with me for years to come.

A final Sunday brunch in Medford, MA, 2014

A final Sunday brunch in Medford, MA, 2014

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I’m sure that you’ve noticed that I refer to the Social List a lot.  It’s both a thread to weave together the student community, and also a glimpse into student life for those of us who stand outside the window looking in.  For the second year, I thought I’d capture and annotate all the messages that circulated on a day.  (This is easy for me to do, as I receive the messages in digest form.)  On March 30, the digest arrived in four email portions, with many messages dedicated to a smaller group of topics.  Please find below the topics of discussion, with the briefest of explanations of the message content.

Social List Digest Table of Contents:

Join us, volunteer and help the community! – Fletcher Cares: Fletcher Cares is a student group that supports both the Fletcher community and groups in the local area.

Dean Stavridis, Ben Affleck, and Bill Gates: Dean Stavridis testified before Congress alongside Ben Affleck and Bill Gates.  A surprising group!

Future Opportunities & Challenges for Evaluation in the UN – April 1, 12:30-1:30pm: Notices of events can be posted on two different lists, one of which is the Social List.

Editing Skills Workshop, Wednesday: Once a year, the Director of the Writing Center holds an editing skills workshop for those who work on the various Fletcher journals and any other community member who might want to sharpen their editing skills.

Continuing the “Food for thought…” Conversation – Wednesday: Previous to this post, a student had raised a question linked to attitudes about race.  Other students created a forum for discussion of the issue.

EVENT THIS WEDNESDAY: Navigating Social Identities in the Workplace:  Another event.

Grant Writing Workshop: Monday: And more writing help, offered by the Humanitarian Action Society

Dandiya Raas/Garba this Friday at Tufts!:  Indian snacks, Bollywood music, and dancing.

New Date for Slow Food Brew Off: I’m not even sure what this was, but food and brew were involved.

Shared taxi from Logan around 1AM?: Transportation shares — a popular Social List topic.

Giveaway: Korean spicy noodles: Too many packets of spicy noodles?  The Social List can help.

Technology and Inclusive Innovation: The IBM Story in Africa: Yet another event.

MONDAY: #RealTalk: All the things about post-Fletcher life you are afraid to ask: Students helping each other as they apprehensively approach the future.

Bringing back an old Fletcher tradition: the thesis-ku: More about this topic soon.  This was the top topic on the day’s Social List digest.

Selling: Printer & Corkboard: Random combination, but just about anything can find a home.

Applications DUE TONIGHT to lead the Fletcher International Migration Group (IMG)!: One generation of Student Group leaders finding the next generation.

A few more female hosts needed for Open House!: Yes, the Admissions Office uses the Social List to connect with students, including when overnight hosts are needed for visitors.

SEEKING: Drums for Cricket World Cup semi finals: This message led to conversations about the drums, cricket, and the World Cup results.

SEEKING: Sewing Kit: Not all needs are as unusual as World Cup drums.

First Years: Don’t Fret: One of my favorite annual themes, in which second-year students reassure first-years that everything (exams, internship search, etc., etc.) will work out.

BFA – Research Associate Apr 1st deadline: Students often hear about, and share, job notices from friends, former employers, or other networks.

SEEKING: Secret dog training talent: After this, it will be secret no longer.

Have you worked in luxury retail?: The message does not reveal the mystery behind this question.

SUMMER SUBLET: Housing is a hot topic throughout the spring.

In total, 82 messages were sent to the Social List between 4:00 on March 29 and 3:59 on March 30, when the digest was compiled.  I haven’t listed all the topics that occurred more than once, but you get the idea.  The Social List is where events are posted, random questions appear, and things/jobs/housing/support are offered/requested, creating conversation and connections between and among students.

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Though you wouldn’t guess it from the number of times we scheduled and rescheduled, one of my favorite things to do around here is to grab my trusty co-pilot, Kristen, and head out to the Hall of Flags to chat with students for the blog.  For those who haven’t visited, the Hall of Flags is the main gathering spot at Fletcher, and the best place to catch up with folks.  And that’s what we did last Tuesday.  Because we’re so close to the end of the semester, we asked everyone about a highlight of their year.

As soon as we walked into the HoF, we saw Terry and Stephanie, both of whom were included in the post about last year’s HoF visit.  This time, Stephanie was selling tickets to “Americana Night” and Terry was keeping her company.

Terry (MALD ’15): The highlight of my year is Fletcher Follies, which hasn’t actually happened yet.  Last year’s Follies was my favorite event of my whole Fletcher experience so far.  It’s fun making videos and also seeing how creative people are in terms of their execution of the videos.  And it’s a highlight from a social perspective.  It brings together students, staff, and faculty in a collegial way leading up to finals.  Everyone is very stressed out by that time in the semester, but it’s a fun way for all the students to come together in one room.

Stephanie (MALD ’15): I’m looking forward to Follies as well, but I’m more excited about the Follies videos I’m making.  I’m doing four — a Harry Potter themed one, and a “30 Rock” parody called “160 Pack,” and we also did a “Shining” themed one.

Stephanie probably listed all four, but I appear to have missed one.

Terry and Stephanie

Marie (MALD ’15): The highlight of my year is my class with Prof. Khan, Historian’s Art.  It’s a phenomenal class.  It goes through great moments in history like World War I and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It assumes we know about the events and Prof. Khan focuses on the time leading up to them and who the key players are.

Marie

Ravi (MIB graduate and IBGC Research Fellow): My highlight was a perfect week when, on Monday, Bloomberg wrote about Mark Zuckerberg’s speech in Barcelona and, in the same paragraph, referenced our Digital Evolution Index, saying that the global investment community agrees with our research findings.  Then, the week ended on Friday with Bill Gates tweeting out the article that Bhaskar (Chakravorti), Rusty (Tunnard), and I wrote in the Harvard Business Review to his 20 million followers, and it got retweeted nearly 5000 times.  It was the most perfect week with the best bookends that one could hope for.

Ravi

Stephen (MA ’15) (camera shy): Last week we did a class trip down to the Naval War College.  We got to see a lot of speakers and visit downtown Newport.  We had a talk on North Korea, Taiwan defense, and Chinese anti-access.

Next we chatted with Morgan, who like Stephanie, was selling tickets — in this case to the Diplomat’s Ball.  Check, cash, or Venmo.

Morgan (MALD ’15):

We had a sending off party for one of our friends who recently got a wonderful job opportunity in Washington, DC.  The energy in the room was incredibly supportive, nurturing and all those good things.  It was a wonderful experience, full of love and light and appreciation for each other.

Morgan
Mary (MALD graduate and current Assistant Director of Student Affairs, who as part of her job responsibilities, attends the social events on campus):
  Africana Night was a highlight.  It has struggled over the years, including once when it was snowed out.  This year’s was the best Africana Night I had ever seen.  It was very high energy and the acts were high quality.

Mary D
Sid (MIB ’15):  For spring break, I went with Fletcher friends, seven of us, to the Bahamas.  We went diving and the instructor asked us where we were from, and we were all from different countries, including Korea, Thailand, India, Japan, U.S., and Nepal.  He was really surprised and asked how we came together.

Sid
When we finished talking to Sid, all system broke down.  We spotted Meg, a PhD student, and went to chat with her.  Then Ben, another PhD student, came along and we pulled him over.  And then we interrupted both of them when Prof. Burgess came along.

Prof. Burgess (Director of the LLM Program): One of my high points was being able to have coffee, along with all the other LLM students, with Judge Joyce Aluoch, (F08) the Vice President of the International Criminal Court.  She joined our group to provide both an overview of the activities of the ICC and to chat informally about current issues facing the court and questions of international law generally.  It’s a special aspect of Fletcher that opportunities like this exist, so that students like our LLM students have an opportunity to meet and interact with very experienced and senior international lawyers.

Prof. Burgess
Then we turned our attention back to Meg and Ben, and the following dialogue resulted:

Them: We’re mentor and mentee.
Us: Which way does it go?  Who’s mentor and who’s mentee?
Them: Exactly.

Meg: Our PhD cohort is the best ever.  Last September, eight of us started.  We have a diverse group.  We just jelled very quickly during Orientation and then we accepted the four internals (who had completed the MALD) into our coven.  We all get along really well, and we fight like brothers and sisters.  We adopted Ben into our cohort.

Ben:  I’m jealous.  Having the large number of external admits last year has broadened the community in an exciting way.

Meg and Ben
Finding two PhD students together in the Hall of Flags is a rare event.  As an additional coincidence, we then bumped into the student whose new job Morgan had been celebrating.

Brionne (MALD ’15): I’m leaving for Washington, DC tomorrow, but today I’m presenting at the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee about equity inclusion for Fletcher students.  I completed classes in January, and starting next week I’ll be working at USAID as a presidential appointee.  I’ll be serving as a Congressional Liaison Officer, supporting Agency priorities on Africa and democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance, meaning I’ll be pushing for incentives that President Obama spearheaded, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Throughout this semester, while waiting for a security clearance, I’ve been embraced by the community and supported as I navigate my transition into the professional world.  The administration has been especially supportive as I completed my capstone.  I’ve continued to build on my relationships with students and also continued to work on ongoing student efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in line with the Fletcher Strategic Plan.

Brionne
By then, an hour had passed and it was time for Kristen and me to return to our day-to-day work.  We only managed one blog trip to the Hall of Flags in 2014-15, but we’ll be back, hopefully more than once, next year.

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Today is April 20: Enrollment decisions (as well as decisions on whether to take a spot on the waitlist) are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT (UTC-4).

Today is also Patriots’ Day, a public holiday in Massachusetts, and the Admissions Office (as well as the rest of Tufts University) is closed.

Patriots’ Day means the Boston Marathon!  Thirteen Fletcher students are participating as members of the Tufts Marathon Team.  Cheer for Stephanie Brown, Tim Grant, Natalie Lam, Kelly Liu, Conner Maher, Tim Magner, Chris Maroshegyi, Alex Nisetich, Gustavo Perez Ara, Tim Roberts, Alex Taylor, Peter Varnum, and Mollie Zapata!  To join TMT, runners pledge to raise funds for nutrition and fitness programs.  If you’re also inclined to support programs of that type, it is still possible to support one or more of the runners!

The runners have been training hard, even during our epic winter.

Snow run
Fortunately, running became more comfortable as the weather improved.

Running, 2

Running

Marathon 20 miler (2)
Taking on marathon training on top of everything that Fletcher students do is a mammoth undertaking.  Good luck, Fletcher runners!

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Today, let’s meet another graduate from Fletcher’s Class of 2009, Yanina Seltzer.

Pre-Fletcher Experience

Yanina, 2I was born in Argentina, raised in Costa Rica and finalized my higher education in the United States.  From a very early age, I developed a global perspective, especially regarding culture, economic issues, and social realities.  I was exposed to harsh economic injustices and social inequalities that sparked my passion for influencing issues surrounding poverty.  In college, I focused my studies on politics, economics, and Latin American studies, in line with my upbringing.  During this time, I interned at Habitat for Humanity, the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

After graduation, I served as an economic analyst at Nathan Associates and as a research analyst at the Inter-American Development Bank.  My academic background and professional experience prepared me for Fletcher.  It was clear to me that, through my graduate studies, I could maintain my goal of decreasing poverty and inequality by continuing to focus on international development, but also could broaden my regional scope and my understanding of the role of business and the private sector.

At Fletcher

When I arrived at The Fletcher School my academic focus was development economics and international business.  Yet I also took time for establishing and enjoying community with my peers, which included dancing at nearly every Culture Night.  Exploring the business and finance world would bring an important perspective to the work I had already been doing.  There were two specific classes, both from my first year, that had a uniquely profound influence on my professional and personal development.  The first was Microfinance: Issues and Breakthroughs with Prof. Kim Wilson, which really broadened my understanding of development.  I learned that increasing economic opportunities for the poor involves an active role from the private sector, entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology as a central catalyst.  The second influential class was Prof. Rusty Tunnard’s class in International Consulting.  Our project with Sun Microsystems crystallized for me the role that technology plays in poverty alleviation.  Creating an engagement strategy for a large technology company in order to bring technology to the Base-of-the-Pyramid (BOP) merged my previous concepts of finance and technology with the necessary role of social innovation.

I then spent my summer in Rio de Janeiro, interning with Mobile Metrix, a social enterprise that does market research at the BOP.  When I returned to Fletcher in the fall, in addition to my Fletcher classes, I cross-registered at the business and medical schools at Harvard.  Through those additional classes, I learned how innovative solutions are applied around the world to solve social problems.  And as I neared the end of my time at Fletcher, I knew exactly where I would land in the global economics landscape: Financial Inclusion.

Post-Fletcher

YaninaAfter graduating, I completed a summer internship at CGAP/ World Bank.  I admired the work of CGAP from afar as a graduate student.  It wasn’t long before CGAP asked me to continue beyond my internship experience.  My initial focus involved regulatory issues in branchless banking.  My work then evolved to market-level analyses and projects centered on mobile-financial services.

In 2011, I relocated to Brazil for nine months, where I spearheaded CGAP’s Brazil strategy in financial inclusion.  During this time, I solidified partnerships with some of the largest banks, such as Bradesco and Caixa.  I initiated innovative projects with these actors and the private sector, facilitated regulatory discussions with the Central Bank, led workshops with banking associations and Ministries, and interacted with leading stakeholders in financial inclusion.  I also led our research agenda, where I got to engage directly with hundreds of low-income customers and understand the reality of their ever-complicated needs and behaviors around financial services.

It was during this time in Brazil that I met hundreds of people living in Rio’s slums, in low-income communities in Sao Paulo, and in peri-urban towns in Recife.  This direct interaction gave me long-lasting and unforgettable insights into designing products and services that empowered them and made sense for their lives.  In an effort to truly support them in their economic lifestyles, hopes, needs and possibilities, it became clear that face-to-face connection would be the greatest influence in efforts to design inclusive products, services, and experiences.

Yanina-TEDTwo years post-graduation, I was invited to deliver a TEDx talk in my home country of Costa Rica, which was particularly powerful for me.  My talk centered on the role of technology in international development and I continue to advocate for that perspective in my current role, which includes leading CGAP’s work-stream in Human-Centered Design and Financial Inclusion and customer-centricity.  It came as no surprise that the concepts behind human-centered design center on the influence that direct conversation, observation, and customer-centricity have on innovation.  I have been deeply involved with a total of seven financial service providers and several world-class design firms in order to understand low-income customers and better design and deliver products and services to them.

Five years post-Fletcher I remain at CGAP, devoted to topics and concepts that are a true reflection of Fletcher’s nature.  My education and my professional experience are the epitome of an interdisciplinary experience: a combination of research methods, creative thought, and business strategy that consistently anchors on the fact that real individuals and communities are the heart of everything we seek to design for and understand.  I am recently married and know that my time at Fletcher prepared me for success professionally and personally!  Each day, I am full of gratitude for my Fletcher experience and its extended community of alumni and educators.

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I don’t always visit the Hall of Flags mezzanine with any frequency, but I was very glad I found myself there this week and discovered the photo exhibit connected with this event.  Beautiful, sad, and powerful.

Young Syrian lenses_Fletcher's Flier (5)

 

Only five days remain until the deadline for admitted and waitlisted applicants to indicate their decisions.  With that in mind, a quick note for applicants who wish to accept a place on the waitlist.

As soon as we can next week, we’ll be counting the enrolling students and deciding whether we should make additional offers of admission.  That means that anyone on the waitlist who wishes to send us additional materials should plan to do that by the 20th, too.

A reminder of what constitutes a useful addition to an application that will be reconsidered in the waitlist process:  Updates (new exam scores, grade reports, résumé, etc.); an additional recommendation that sheds light on an area of your background that you didn’t illuminate as thoroughly as you might have in your original application; a letter that restates and clarifies your interests and objectives.  If you’re thinking about sending us information that doesn’t seem particularly new, there’s probably not much benefit to it.  But it’s always nice to hear from you that you are still interested in enrolling, so feel free to send a quick note.

April 21 is only the very beginning of the process for reviewing the waitlist.  As likely as not, nothing much will happen for a few weeks, so patience is still needed.  But don’t hold off much longer in sending any new materials that you want us to consider.

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With Commencement only about five weeks away, we’ll be reading only a few more posts from graduating bloggers Diane and Liam.  Today, Liam provides his “Annotated Curriculum,” in which he lays out his academic path through Fletcher.  (You might also want to read Mirza’s Annotated Curriculum from last spring.)  It’s worth noting here that Liam’s Fletcher experience is not typical for the majority of students, but it does represent that of a significant subset — officers who are sponsored by their branch of the U.S. military.  Their coursework looks much the same as that of any other student, but they rarely pursue a summer internship and they don’t need to find a post-Fletcher job.  Finally, Fletcher students must fulfill a Capstone Requirement, for which many students write a traditional academic thesis.  It’s not uncommon for the terms Capstone and thesis to be used interchangeably.

Liam, MALD 2015, United States

Pre-Fletcher Experience
U.S. Army Infantry Officer; deployments to Iraq (2007-2008) and Afghanistan (2010, 2012)

Fields of Study
International Security Studies
International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (INCR)

Capstone Topic
U.S. Army Security Force Assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Return to the Army with a broader understanding of global affairs and the role the Army can play in them; selection as an Infantry Battalion Commander

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

  • Role of Force
  • International Organizations
  • Processes of International Negotiation
  • The Globalization of Politics and Culture for Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan

My first semester helped me lay the foundation for my coursework at Fletcher.  I met with my academic advisor, Prof. Shultz, very early in the semester, which set me on the right path for my course load, as he helped lay out a logical course progression.  Role of Force and Processes of International Negotiation were both mandatory courses in my Fields of Study — setting the stage for all my follow-on classes, and I wanted to knock out my ILO requirement early on with International Organizations.  I rounded the semester out with one regionally focused course, which balanced perfectly.  I found the semester to be an excellent mix of papers and final exams, which kept me from having a frantic end of the semester.

Semester Two

  • Policy and Strategy in War
  • Analytical Frameworks
  • Modern Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Peace Operations

Following what I had learned in the fall, I focused heavily on Security Studies this semester, although Peace Operations also counted towards my coursework in the INCR Field of Study.  I fulfilled my quantitative requirement with Analytical Frameworks, which taught me a lot of valuable skills.  Again, this semester was a good mix of papers and finals that enabled me to budget my time throughout the spring.  At this point I also started working with Professor Shultz on my capstone ideas so I could spend time over the summer doing research.

Summer
Army ROTC, MIT

The Army required that I be “gainfully employed” over the summer, so I spent my days helping out at MIT’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program.  The cadets were all gone at training for the summer, so I worked on information-sharing platforms for the unit to use in the fall, but also found myself with plenty of time to do baseline research on U.S. National Security Strategy, as well as where the Army fits in a changing environment, to help frame the “big picture” for my capstone.  I also had a fair amount of time over the summer to work on my Spanish skills on my own, as well as publish several military-related blog posts.

Semester Three

  • Internal Conflicts and War
  • Gender, Culture, and Conflict
  • Foundations of International Cybersecurity
  • Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies

This semester proved to be very challenging, as I had five group presentations with group papers due, but then had no finals.  Needless to say, the second half of the semester was a blur.  It was a very Security Studies heavy semester, but the gender course with Prof. Mazurana and Prof. Stites really stood out for me, and helped me understand an aspect of conflict that I’d never put much thought towards during my time in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Lastly, I used the Internal Conflicts class as the incubator for my thesis and was able to finish the majority of the Iraq portion of it.

Semester Four

  • The Strategic Dimensions of China’s Rise
  • Introduction to Economic Theory
  • The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs
  • Capstone Independent Study

I made the mistake of putting off my economics requirement until my final semester, so I had to use a class credit for it during the spring.  I decided to go with an Independent Study with Professor Shultz to finish my thesis and ensure I had the time necessary to put effort towards it.  I was a history major as an undergraduate, so Prof. Khan’s new class really interested me.  Last, with U.S. National Security Strategy “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific, I wanted to get at least one course in that region into my coursework.

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