Every so often I like to check in with Admissions Blog readers and have you direct (or redirect) me toward valuable content for the blog.  It’s like crowdsourcing my brainstorming.  You want to read useful information, and I want to write or recruit content that you’ll find valuable.  It’s a win-win!

To that end, please add your ideas to this ultraquick three-question survey.  If every reader provided one suggestion, I’d have topics to last me well into the winter!  And I promise to do my best with any topics you provide.  So please, help me out, cure my writer’s block, and offer up some ideas on the survey.  Every time I would otherwise be staring at a blank screen, I will thank you.


It’s the second week of classes (the first full week, since last week included a holiday and shopping day), and the calendar of out-of-class events already looks like this:

September 12 calendar

How does that happen?  The community goes from zero to 60 in no time flat.  Our inboxes are suddenly flooded with notices of special events, campus jobs, and administrative announcements.  But now’s also the time when students have a few extra moments to attend a special event, and those events play an important role in building the community.  It’s a challenge to stay on top of everything that’s happening, but it’s a worthy one.

(A simplified calendar of events that may be open to the public can be found on the Fletcher website.)


The launch of a new degree program is a big deal at Fletcher!  After a couple of years of planning, Dean Stavridis recently signed an agreement with the College of Europe in Belgium to launch the Master in Transatlantic Affairs (MTA).  Though similar to a dual degree, in that two schools are involved, the MTA is a unified program that requires study at the two institutions and an internship to earn the degree.  The first MTA students are expected in September 2017.  If you might be interested in the program, please contact us!

You can read Fletcher’s report on the program’s establishment, or check out the details from College of Europe.  Meanwhile, here’s the signing ceremony:

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I wrote last week that the Admissions staff has started to hit the road.  Last Thursday, we sent Lucas to New York for his first Idealist graduate school fair with Fletcher.  Today it’s my turn!  I’m on my way to NY for the annual APSIA fair, which is held at the Council on Foreign Relations.  It’s a busy event, but focused.  Everyone who attends is interested in some corner of the broad international affairs arena.  I’ll have two alumni with me (and plenty of water to drink).  If you’re going to be there, please stop by and say hello!


I tend to let National Public Radio keep me company in the morning, with the result that a member of the Fletcher community frequently joins me while I eat breakfast or commute to work.  This week, my cup of tea was accompanied by the voices of two graduates.

Yesterday I was visited by Vali Nasr, F84 — a double Jumbo (alumnus of Tufts undergraduate and Fletcher) who happens now to be the dean at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, having previously taught at Fletcher — talking about Saudi Arabia, Iran, and this year’s hajj.

And then today, it was R.D. Sahl, F95, a graduate of the one-year MA program, who will be delivering reports for a new app that makes it easy to follow politics, in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election.

Whether it’s an alum, a professor, or Dean Stavridis, hearing their stories and analysis over the radio is a welcome reminder that I’m part of a terrifically interesting and knowledgeable community.


The Hall of Flags is in full hum today, with new and continuing students popping in and out of Shopping Day sessions.  I always think of this first day of the academic year as being the start of a new “blog year,” too.

To kick off Blog Year 2016-17, I’d like to point you toward some of the blog’s past content.  For starters, there are the regular posts written for the Student Stories feature, which will continue this year with both returning and new writers.  And there are the occasional Faculty Spotlight posts — shining that light on aspects of the professors’ Fletcher life that you won’t see represented elsewhere.

Among the posts from Student Stories writers are what we call “Annotated Curricula.”  You can think of them as the roadmap that our writers took through their two Fletcher years.

For the past few years, I’ve asked alumni to write about their post-Fletcher lives, in either a one-year update or a five-year update.

And then there’s the straightforward admissions stuff.  A few years ago, a student member of the staff wrote the “Dear Ariel” column, in which she answered commonly asked questions.  I hope to bring a similar feature back this year, once our student staff is back in place.  And over the years, we’ve passed along lots of admissions tips — especially ideas for the application essays.

I hope you’ll enjoy catching up on some of the blog’s past posts.  I’m certainly looking forward to sharing details of the new Blog Year!


Orientation wraps up today and classes begin next week.  Faculty members have been spotted in the building, heading off to a meeting or joining new students for lunch.  But for us, a key marker of the start of the fall semester comes next week, when the Admissions staff will start three months when, on most days, someone will be on the road.

Broadly speaking, we travel for three reasons.  The first is to participate in graduate school fairs, generally all of those organized by APSIA and a few organized by Idealist or by business school-related groups.

Second, we travel to universities and other sites — throughout the U.S. and a revolving list of international destinations — with a few friendly peers.  These “Group of Five” trips, including Fletcher, Princeton/Woodrow Wilson, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins/SAIS, and Columbia/SIPA, might find representatives of each school in a plane or a van together en route to a week of visits.

And finally, we’ll travel to a few universities or workplaces throughout the year, but not with any particular guiding structure.  Sometimes a university invites us.  Sometimes we want to learn more about a school whose graduates have applied in significant numbers.

Maybe we’ll be traveling to a site near you!  You can find our travel schedule on our website.  Check back often — the list is still skeletal, but we’ll be filling it in over the coming weeks.


I was recently emailing back and forth with Atanas, a 2015 graduate, and he told me that Fletcher folk (mostly alumni) in New York would be gathering for a picnic last Saturday.  You can be sure that I didn’t let a moment pass before writing back to ask for a photo.  So here are 20-plus Fletcher people and one dog, gathered in New York’s Bryant Park on a beautiful summer evening, after the other 20-plus people had left (or before they arrived).  40 to 50 picnickers in total!  Go Fletcher-in-NY!

NY picnic


When I was walking from my bus to Fletcher this morning, I was struck by how lovely the campus looks.  We’ve had a hot and dry summer, but this morning was cool and clear — a taste of what September and the fall will bring.

Though the weather and Orientation have us looking toward the fall semester, today I’m going to look back at some of the summer’s news that you may or may not have seen in other Fletcher sources.

I’ll start with something you won’t have read, but it’s pretty cool.  Tufts will have an observer team at the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco in November, and students were invited to apply to participate.  The team at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy will submit the nominations for official observer status.

And speaking of CIERP, the crew there is always busy in the summer.  Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director for educational programs at CIERP, spent part of her summer with an international group of sustainability professionals at an executive education course organized by the Sustainability Challenge Foundation in the Netherlands.  She co-led the faculty of the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability, which focused on negotiation and consensus building.

Not new CIERP news, but a new wrap up — check out this Tufts Now story on the Paris Climate Conference.

Continuing with the staff/faculty theme, Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church told us about a new blog on corruption in fragile states that, she wrote, touches on many areas of interest to the Fletcher community, including “power analysis, systems thinking, aid ineffectiveness, good governance, fragile states etc.”  She also explained that many of the posts are derived from work that Professor Diana Chigas and she are doing, “looking at the intersection of corruption, justice and legitimacy.”

In news from the Institute for Business in the Global Context, Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti, PhD student Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, and MALD/PhD graduate Ben Mazzotta, have posed the question, “What countries would benefit most from a cashless world?”  Their answer, which builds on the work of their Digital Evolution Index and the Cost of Cash research, can be found in their Harvard Business Review article that evaluates “the absolute costs of using cash around the globe to find what countries could unlock the most value by moving to a cashless society.”

And now some summer news about alumni.

Christina Sass, F09, is one of four co-founders of the two-year-old startup company, Andela, which is now backed by both Google and the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation.  So many of our students and alumni work with small organizations, and it’s exciting to see one receive so much love!

Since graduating, Patrick Kabanda, F13, has been busy writing on cultural development for the World Bank, including “Creative Natives in the Digital Age”, “Music for Development in the Digital Age”, “The Arts, Africa and Economic Development: The problem of Intellectual Property Rights,” “Mozart seduces the World Bank and the IMF” (a blog post), and just recently, for the Inter-American Development Bank, “‘The World Sends Us Garbage, We Send Back Music’: Lessons from the Recycled Orchestra in Paraguay.”

And finally, Fletcher has developed a series of video answers to the question, “Why Fletcher?”  This summer, Elise Crane, F11, offered her perspective.

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And just like that, the quiet of summer is a thing of the past and the Hall of Flags is filled with students, newly arrived for Orientation.  They’ve picked up their ID cards, been welcomed by Tufts University’s president and several Fletcher deans, and are currently relaxing over lunch.  We hope the break will fortify them in advance of the afternoon’s briefings on myriad essential topics.

Orientation isn’t all critical-fact gathering — most evenings include a social event.  But it’s a busy week that should leave the newest members of our community with a suitcase of essential background information, along with familiarity with the campus and a bunch of new friends.

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