Currently viewing the tag: "Community"

I’ve written, over time, about many Fletcher student organizations, such as Perspectives and Futbol.  Students enrich their experience here with any number (sometimes a very large number!) of out-of-class activities, and the list of clubs and organizations looks slightly different each year, depending on student interests.  But one organization to which I’ve given insufficient recognition is The Fletcher Forum.  Quietly producing impressive publications for more than 30 years, Forum staffers don’t waste much time bringing attention to themselves.  But today I’ve asked the Forum editor, David Reidy, to tell us what it’s all about.

As one of the few academic journals entirely run by students, we have our hands full putting together The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs.  Each year we publish two issues filled with pieces on the important topics of today, written by academics and practitioners around the world.  It’s a demanding task, but an intensely rewarding experience.

Last year, our Editor-in-Chief, Naureen Kabir, raised the bar of success even higher, putting out three issues featuring luminaries such as Les Gelb, Hassan Abbas, Jendayi Frazier, Michael Jacobson, and Matthew Levitt.  This year we are returning to our normal bi-annual schedule, but filling Naureen’s shoes is no easy task.

The process starts with soliciting articles.  We contact authors for pieces based on the issues we think deserve attention, with a particular focus on collecting a diverse set of topics and opinions.  The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs strives to encompass all regions and subjects, even those that don’t normally receive attention in academic journals.  We also put out a general “Call For Papers,” which often leads to fascinating articles on topics we never even dreamed of covering.

Once we’ve collected plenty of pieces, we start the editing process.  As a Fletcher student, it’s a joy to peruse the submissions, and I never fail to learn something new.  Each article goes to an editing team and then back to the author, as part of a collaborative process to improve (or often just fine-tune) the piece before publication.  At least two editing teams will examine each submission, and once everyone is satisfied with the product, it’s off to the printer!

Editing can be a long process, and the intermediary steps can seem never-ending, but in the end it’s all worthwhile.  We take great satisfaction in producing a respected academic journal, and it’s always exciting to open the cover and see your own name on the masthead.  Working at The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs has been once of the most rewarding experiences of my time at Fletcher, and that is no small feat.

David Reidy
Editor-in-Chief

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One of the many things I love about our students is the way they add to their own work, to the benefit of the community. The other day, I checked out the Where is Fletcher? crowd map that second-year student Jessica Heinzelman set up. (Are we surprised that her own internship was at Ushahidi, which is building a business on this type of platform?) The map is still evolving, but you can already get a sense of the breadth of activities that kept our “vacationing” students busy during the summer months.

Along the same lines (vacationing students building the community), if you haven’t yet seen this very sweet slideshow, I hope you’ll take a look.

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a few email requests for current students to help incoming students in a (typically) student-initiated arrangement, sweetly called the Buddy Program.  I sent a note to Patrick Elliot, the organizer, and asked him to describe it for blog readers.  Here’s what he wrote:

Let’s say you’re a new Fletcher student, and you’re about to start your first day of Orientation.  You’re excited to start, but tired from unpacking, anxious about the new demands of graduate school, and not really sure what you’re doing — all at once.  Fletcher’s Orientation will give you all the information you need to, say, register for classes online, but it probably won’t answer the big questions like:  Which classes should I take?  How should I buy books?  Which parties are not to miss?  What the heck is Social Hour anyway, and why should I care?

You can easily get answers to all those questions by asking any Fletcher student in sight — if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s offering opinions.  But “course shopping” is fast approaching, and classes start the following day.  What if you want to focus on, say, Non-Profit Management, and the students you’ve met so far don’t know much about it?  Plus you don’t yet have home Internet, and it’s been, like, days since you last updated your Twitter feed…

That’s why last year, Jessica Smith F’10 started Fletcher’s student-run Buddy Program.  Using Admissions Office info on incoming students and their proposed concentrations, the Buddy Program pairs two or three incoming students with a current student who shares academic and professional interests, but, more importantly, also knows the ins and outs of Fletcher.  Now when you’re settling into Boston, picking classes, and trying to decide between a Green House party or staying home (really?), you have someone to ask.

As I alluded to earlier, the Buddy Program doesn’t replace the constant Hall of Flags chatter between Fletcher students about classes, professors, internships, jobs, parties, Boston excursions, and Best Practices in Free Food Procurement.  But it gives you the right contacts at the right time — when you’re facing so many changes and decisions but don’t know a bunch of people yet.  It’s one of many ways that Fletcher students (and staff) look out for each other.

 

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In case you haven’t been combing over every inch of the Fletcher web site, I wanted to bring your attention to this story.  It provides a rundown of the current activities of the MIB (Master’s in International Business) program’s first graduating class.

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I’m wrapping up the photo essays today.  First, let’s hear from Roxana, whose Tufts roots run deep:

ASEAN

My photo is of ASEAN Auditorium, one of my favorite spots at Fletcher.  My first exposure to ASEAN was as an undergrad when I took Introduction to International Relations.  (I still remember the course number — PS 151!)  It was one of my first college courses and the first time I had ever taken a class that large.  The auditorium was a different color then (blue, I think), and the seats not as comfortable.  Working at Fletcher now, ASEAN reminds me of Open House and the first day of Orientation, when the first-years file in for a welcome from Dean Bosworth. It also reminds me of Fletcher Follies, when Fletcher students, staff, and faculty have a great time watching skits and videos.  ASEAN is where important lectures, guest speakers, and some classes are held.  It’s a great space and recent renovations made it even better.

As for me, I was among the last to snap my photo.  I’ve worked here for a loooooong time and I knew I could easily think of a bunch of special spots.  I gave everyone else first chance to claim their favorite locations, and lucky for me, no one snagged my top choice.

Leo, no frame

This is a photo of a photo, from among a few dozen that are displayed (thanks to a recent graduating class) on a hallway wall.  The subject of the photo is Professor Leo Gross.  When I first started work at Fletcher, many many moons ago, Prof. Gross was still teaching.  He was my link to Fletcher’s earliest days, as he had joined the faculty in 1944, only 11 years after the School’s founding.  By the time we met, I knew he was no spring chicken, but I didn’t know how far into his 80s he was (and I certainly didn’t know he had been “retired” for many years).  I would hear the enthusiasm of students who studied with him, and I was aware that his scholarly work was well celebrated.  Now that I have worked here for so long, it feels very special to have this connection to Fletcher’s early history, and I’m glad that he’s remembered by students, faculty, and staff who pass his photograph each day.

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Day after summer day, it’s easy for us to run only into other members of the staff (and not many of them).  We might see the occasional student or alum who’s in the building to get something done, or maybe a professor (though I don’t think I’ve seen any member of the faculty in about three weeks).  But, mostly, we feel like we’re alone in the building, just getting our work done.

In fact, though, there has been quite a bit going on here — if not always in full view.  Summer School ran from May 24 to July 2, but with most of the classes starting late in the day, there wasn’t much opportunity to bump into the Summer School students.

Also in June, for a week Fletcher was the site of the Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict. The participants were so busy that we didn’t see them, either — except as they crossed the building en route from classroom to lunch or back.

For the past few weeks, there was a group from Mexico attending the Comparative Program on Adversarial Criminal Justice Systems, a specially organized executive education program in comparative law.  I asked around before writing this, and found out that it’s quite the cool program.  Prof. Basáñez and Prof. Aucoin are the resident faculty, but the group has heard from local judges and court personnel, as well as law faculty from Fletcher and other local law schools.  A big part of the program involved site visits to local courtrooms.  There were a total of 113 participants, primarily judges with a few other employees of the Mexican Supreme Court.  The goal was to help them prepare for impending reforms to Mexico’s judicial system, by exposing them to the workings of adversarial criminal justice systems in other parts of the world.  Interesting!  I saw members of the group chatting happily during lunch a couple of times, but we didn’t have any professional contact.

Finally, this week, there’s a group of GMAPers attending their final residency.  They’ll be here for a couple of weeks, but the program keeps them pretty busy during my working day.  I’ve been catching some early-bird studiers in the Hall of Flags as I come into work in the morning.

None of these groups or programs has brought a crowd into the building, but knowing they’re around keeps us from feeling too lonely.  Personally, I’m nearly at the point when I feel ready for students to return.  I still have a lot on my to-do list and I’ll need more time to get it done.  But I know that, come September, it will be nice to have a more populated building.

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I’ll continue, today, with staff answers to the applicationesque question:

Take a photograph of a spot at Fletcher that is important to you.  Describe the spot, and tell us why you chose it (200 words or less).

Liz tells us:

Liz

I chose to take a picture of the table outside Ginn Library as one of my favorite places at Fletcher.  As with any New England town, Medford experiences its  share of cold, snow, sleet, and ice in the winter months.  Come spring, though, along with beautiful weather, budding trees and sunny skies, also comes the ability to eat lunch outside, which my fellow co-workers and I, along with Fletcher students, take advantage of.  There’s nothing better than being able to take some time from a busy day to go outside and decompress a bit.

Jeff chooses to take a photo of photos in the Fletcher Perspectives Gallery.

THIS ONE!!!

The Perspectives Gallery is one of my favorite places to visit at Fletcher.  This hallway truly embodies the spirit of the community.  Students, faculty, and staff create photo journals of their time in various parts of the world while studying, working, or traveling for pleasure.  When visiting the gallery I always learn something new and also reminisce about my own experiences.  The same is true when speaking with current Fletcher students.  Everyone I meet, through the admissions process or on campus, has inspiring stories to share.  Fletcher is such a diverse place, and the Perspectives Gallery provides a glimpse into why the community is so special.  Take a look at the Fletcher Perspectives website to see for yourself!  Photographs from the exhibit can be purchased for $20, and all of the proceeds are donated to the UN Office of Children and Armed Conflict to assist with the rehabilitation of child soldiers.

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When Laurie and I first joined the Fletcher Admissions Office, the application included an essay question that went more or less like this:

Imagine you have taken a picture of something that will help the Admissions Committee learn about you.  Describe the item in the photograph.  (250 words or less)

With that essay in mind, I gave my Admissions pals an assignment:

Take a photograph of a spot at Fletcher that is important to you.  Describe the spot, and tell us why you chose it (200 words or less).

I hope the photos and descriptions will give you a little insight into us and our work.  I’ll start them off today and continue in posts for the next week or so.  First up, Peter, because his favorite spot connects to his earliest days at Fletcher.

Murrow 130

The Edward R. Murrow Room featured prominently in my first impression of Fletcher, as it was where my interview was held almost four years ago, and it continues to be an integral part of my Fletcher experience.  We hold most of our Admissions Information Sessions there and, in the winter, the Committee on Admissions spends the bulk of our Friday mornings discussing applications around the room’s big wooden table.  We’re surrounded by Mr. Murrow’s plaques, awards, pictures, books, news clippings, and furniture — including my favorite item:  his old leather massage chair.  There’s a lot of history represented in this dark, cozy room and much to be learned from browsing the walls and bookcases.  (Did you know that the term “Public Diplomacy” was actually coined at Fletcher?)  Unfortunately for the photography portion of my blog assignment, the Edward R. Murrow Room at Fletcher is currently undergoing a major renovation:  one that involves temporary removal of nearly everything (alas, even the chair), and covering the windows, walls, and light fixtures in plastic sheets.

Next up, Kristen:

Kristen will use this one

This bland little corner and empty table aren’t very visually compelling, but they do represent something important about my work here and the culture of Fletcher more generally: our collaborative, personal approach to education.  This is the meeting table in my office, and I spend a lot of time here.  Very often, I will first meet around the table with students when they are just beginning to learn about Fletcher, and then again for a formal interview, and then many times more during their years at Fletcher.  It’s a pleasure for me to be able to be a part of their graduate school process, from beginning to end, and I know my colleagues feel the same.

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Tired of reading about Fletcher, and want to see and hear a little something?  Check out the Fletcher YouTube Channel.  There you’ll find a growing selection — mostly serious, but a few less so — of events, speeches, and student performances.

In the “less so” category is a student-produced video (not yet on the official channel) of far-flung Fletcherites dancing in the viral-sensational style of “Where is Matt?”  It was presented at this year’s Fletcher Follies (an evening of home-style humor — read here about last year’s event), and was edited by Leigh Stefanik’10.  Strap on your dancing shoes and enjoy!

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I grew up on the south shore of Long Island, where each town had the bay as the southern border, and there was one town each to the east, west, and north.  Then I moved up here, where the borders are ragged and you can travel along a single street unaware that you have crossed from town to city and back again.  With all these interconnections, housing-hunting incoming students needn’t feel bound to Medford and Somerville.

In particular, parts of both Arlington and Cambridge are within a mile of Fletcher, and five miles would get you to Winchester, Belmont, Watertown, Malden, as well as parts of Boston.  Depending on your housing needs and whether you decide to bring a car, any of these towns could be the right place for you to spend a couple of years.

As for that tricky question of whether to bring a car, here’s what I’d say.  If you don’t own one, don’t buy one!  You’ll find other students who can run you over to the supermarket now and then.  And, there are Zipcars on campus, including in the Fletcher parking lot.  If you already own a car, I’m sure you’ll find it helpful, but you’ll want to plan carefully to prevent unintended expenses.  We locals get used to a crazy array of parking (more accurately:  NO PARKING) regulations on our narrow streets.  Meanwhile, public transportation is good, so owning a car isn’t a necessity.

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