Way back in May, a ceremony took place to present the 2017 Presidential Awards for Civic Life to Tufts undergraduate and graduate students who have made an impact on the community.  For about a month, I searched for the photos or videos from the event that I thought would be shared.  Then, well after I had given up searching, there they were!  You can certainly argue that an event from two months ago isn’t news anymore, but it’s always nice to shed light on someone, particularly someone who has been honored for service.

In the video below, watch Dean Jerry Sheehan introduce Ammar Karimjee, a 2017 MIB graduate, at about 1:01.  And then watch Associate Director of Student Affairs Katie Mulroy introduce 2017 MALD graduate Angga Dwi Martha at about 1:11.  Or, if you don’t feel like scrolling, you can go directly to the videos for Ammar and Angga.

You can also read here about what Ammar, Angga, and all the other recipients, contributed during their time at Tufts.

 

As I’ve often written before, work at Fletcher in the summer has its own rhythms.  The School remains quiet from late May to early August, but we’re not “un-busy.”  We all have a variety of projects going and that’s before we start the serious prepping that precedes the fall semester.  Meanwhile, because admissions folk tend not to take much vacation time from September to May, we’re all in and out of the office.  I’ve been taking Mondays off, which has made a mess of my usual blog patterns.

When I reported back to work yesterday, I heard the quiet hum of voices around the Hall of Flags and near some of the lecture rooms.  While I was enjoying a long weekend, students in the Global Master of Arts Program had arrived!  These GMAPers will be on campus for two weeks completing their yearlong program, including submitting their Capstone Projects.  Then, on July 31, a new GMAP class will arrive for their first two-week residency.

(For those unfamiliar with the GMAP format, students (who are mid-to-senior-level professionals) bracket their program year with two two-week sessions at Fletcher.  In between the sessions, their fall and spring semesters are delivered via internet-mediated instruction, punctuated by an additional two-week residency out in the world.  The photo to the right shows the program in Abu Dhabi in 2014.)

The truth is, GMAP students have little contact with students in Fletcher’s traditional residential programs.  But after they graduate, GMAP alumni forge the relationships with the larger community that characterize the Fletcher family experience.  They join alumni clubs, attend reunions, and have proven to be strong supporters of MALDs, MIBs, etc., creating the connection that didn’t exist as they pursued their degrees on different academic calendars.

For now, it’s nice to have some company in the building, and we’re happy to welcome GMAP!

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Though many incoming students have already lined up their housing, I know that other folks are still searching or, even, just kicking off their search.  Here’s some advice from Admissions Graduate Assistant Cindy, who conducted her housing search last summer.

During the few months before starting at Fletcher, one of my biggest worries was figuring out where I was going to live.  At the time, I was finishing up a teaching job and living with my husband in North Carolina, so I was very anxious about trying to find housing remotely.  I could only imagine what that process would be like for students living and working outside of the United States.

I learned very quickly that housing in the Medford/Boston area goes on and off the market at a fast pace, and websites like Zillow were not always helpful.  As badly as I wanted to secure housing early on, trying to search for housing in March or April was unrealistic.  That being said, I was able to start getting in touch with different realtors and learn about how to find an apartment that suited our needs and budget.  After working with a realtor, we ended up taking a weekend trip to Medford in June, looking at a few places within our budget, and submitting an application for an apartment.  We eventually moved to Medford in late July.

My situation is not exactly typical of Fletcher students; I wanted to find a one-bedroom apartment for my husband, my dog, and me, which was a difficult task.  I would say, however, that it is much easier to find housing if you are open to the idea of roommates, so that you can split the rent.  To find out current information about houses or apartments for rent, I would check out the Off Campus Housing Resource Center.  On this site, you can click on the apartment listing spreadsheet which is continually updated throughout the year.  (Scroll down for the latest listings.)  There is also helpful information on trusted real estate agents, but keep in mind you often have to pay realtor fees if you work directly with a broker.

Another way of seeing what is available is getting in touch with current Fletcher students and finding out if they are graduating or relocating.  If you’re not already connecting with people on the incoming student Facebook page, it’s not too late.  Blakeley Hall, Fletcher’s co-ed dorm for single or married students not living with their spouse/children, is also an option, though by now the rooms will all be taken for Fall 2017.  For those who have already reserved a Blakeley room, you’ll find it a great way to remain involved on campus and it has a special culture that its resident have developed over time.

Searching for housing can be stressful, but if you keep in mind the timing of your search as well as the options listed above, I’m sure you will find a great home.  Good luck!

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The Admissions Blog’s Student Stories writers are busy with their summer activities, but I have end-of-year reports from them to share.  I’ll start with this post from Mariya, who pursued an outrageously busy schedule during the spring semester.

It’s hard to believe that my first year at Fletcher has come to an end.  It feels like yesterday that I was meeting new people at Orientation, figuring out my classes, and making sense of my new community.  Over the last ten months, a lot has happened; at Fletcher, in the United States, and around the world.  The frequency of breaking news buzzing on my phone made it difficult at times to focus on my studies, but as any student or professor would tell you, consuming articles from a variety of sources is an important part of a Fletcher education.  These unofficial “supplemental readings” became topics of discussion in classes and our homes, in the Mugar Café and on the Social List.  In these spaces, we analyzed and debated world events in a way that challenged our long-held beliefs and pushed us outside our comfort zones.  At those moments, I couldn’t help but be grateful.  What a privilege it is to be a student now — to study history, to discuss the present, to prepare for the future, to think out loud and debate different ideas.

While the real world seemed to be in disarray, I was struggling to manage my own world at Fletcher.  My second semester was especially challenging because I took six half- or full-semester courses including two at Harvard, audited three classes including intermediate Spanish, and was an active leader of three campus clubs.  In this post, I’d like to highlight one of those clubs: The Fletcher Islamic Society (FIS).

When I arrived at Fletcher in September, I learned that FIS was not an active group.  With others, I applied for club funding and we were able to re-charter it.  The purpose of the Fletcher Islamic Society is to create a space that furthers the understanding of Islam in different social, cultural, political, ethnic, and spiritual contexts.  By hosting speakers, engaging in community service, and facilitating open dialogue, our hope is to foster an environment where Islam can be understood in all its complexity and diversity.  We collaborate with the Tufts Muslim Chaplaincy and the Tufts Muslim Student Association student group for recurring events such as Jummah (Friday) prayers and Quran recitation circles.  This year, FIS was one of the direct beneficiaries of a new prayer room that allows Muslim students to pray in a convenient space and for others to meditate.

I would like to highlight a few events that FIS organized to give you an idea of the types of student-inspired programming that is a norm at Fletcher.

  • In sponsorship with the Fares Center, we hosted Pakistani Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Rizwan Shiekh, who spoke to an audience of about 40 students about the “knowns and unknowns” of Pakistan from a security perspective.  Pakistan is often a case study in Fletcher courses, and it was refreshing to hear a different perspective from a career diplomat about the role of the military in public life and foreign policy, as well as in diplomatic initiatives.
  • Shortly after the 2016 election and the highlighting of the Khizr Khan family, FIS leaders sought to bring attention to Muslims serving in the armed forces.  In partnership with the International Security Studies Program (ISSP), FIS invited to campus MIT Professor of Military Science Captain Nadi Kassim who delivered an engaging luncheon talk titled “Muslim Americans in the Armed Forces: The Story of a 1st Generation Palestinian-American.”  This event was highlighted in the Muslim Chaplaincy’s Spring newsletter.
  • Another popular event that FIS sponsored this semester was a panel discussion titled “Spooks Islam: Reflection on Intelligence, Counterterrorism and the American Muslim Experience.”  In addition to sharing their experiences of working in counterterrorism as black Muslims, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim and Yaya Fanusie engaged students with career advice — and some students even landed summer internships with their organizations!
  • In late April, FIS hosted an intimate coffee discussion with one of Fletcher’s distinguished alums, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, F90.  Once the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Mr. Chaudhary shared anecdotes of his time at Fletcher and his diplomatic journey and advice for students as we navigate our futures.

Of course, there’s never a shortage of events to attend at Fletcher.  But what I love about being a student club leader is the flexibility and discretion afforded to us in creating programming that we feel benefits the community.  If there is something you want to see at campus, you can make it happen.

Aside from organizing and attending events, I had the opportunity to participate in some, too.  For example, I performed my values speech from the Arts of Communication course at the spring Fletcher Faces of Community, presented my undergraduate research at Tufts’ South Asian Political Action Committee Symposium, and shared my poem titled “The Dream That Is” at the Spring Recital.  The semester ended with the annual Diplomats Ball (or “Dip Ball” for short), which was the perfect way to top off the year.  I’ve had an incredible time at Fletcher so far, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to enroll here.  I’m spending the summer in Taiwan and Thailand — I look forward to writing to you from there!

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I shared some news items last Friday, but here’s one that I missed.  Tufts Collaborates is a program to foster collaboration among professors in different (and sometimes far-flung) areas of the university.  For the coming year, Fletcher faculty members will be involved in three of the projects that received seed grant funding.  The projects are:

EduNet: A Low Cost Communication Infrastructure to Improve Education in Developing Countries: Jenny Aker, Fletcher School, and Fahad Dogar, School of Engineering.

Effect of Climate Change on Household Drinking Water Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Avery Cohn, Fletcher School, and Amy Pickering, School of Engineering, with Graham Jeffries from Fletcher (Professor Cohn’s research assistant).

Challenging Conceptions: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation: Kimberly Theidon, Fletcher School, with Dyan Mazurana, Fletcher School and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

 

It’s June 30!  Time to wrap up some news, in advance of the long July 4 weekend.  (Long for us, that is.  The Admissions Office will be closed on Monday and Tuesday for the Independence Day holiday.)  In no particular order, here’s a mishmash of stories that caught my eye in the last however many weeks.

Professor Michael Klein is working with colleagues on a website called EconofactHere’s a story about it.

Daily Boston tech world newsletter BostInno highlighted a start-up with Fletcher origins, Blue Water Metrics, which emerged from the Tufts 100K competition in 2016.

Here’s a brief video introducing a compelling story about Arslan Muradi, a 2017 Fletcher graduate.

Aditya Sarkar, a 2016 graduate, worked this past year for the World Peace Foundation.  Two multiple-authored articles on the challenges faced by cities grew out of his research.  This one and this one.

A Fletcher graduate is one of the co-founders of Indivisible.

Dean Stavridis has hit the road with his newest book, Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans.  You can hear his interview with NPR’s Morning Edition on the player below.  (Prefer a transcript?  Here you go.)

 

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!

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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 soccercraycray@hotmail.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 PatrikiosThe 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!

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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.

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