Students here pursue all the usual procrastination activities, but occasionally they delay their work with yet other scholarly interests. Early in May, when everyone surely had all they needed on their plates already, Josh Gross (since graduated) presented just such a distraction via the student elist:
Want to procrastinate? I know I do. Wouldn’t it be cool (in the way that can only be cool within these walls) to have a “Best of Fletcher Homework” list? Send along your favorite assigned books or articles from the last year or two. It might be a nice reflection of what makes us all tick collectively, and an opportunity to get a window into all of the classes that we wanted to take, but couldn’t. At the very least, it will make for good summer reading. I’ll start the ball off with Michael Glennon: “The Blank-Prose Crime of Aggression.”
And thus started the conversation that Josh called “What was your favorite reading at Fletcher? OR I got an MA in Law in Diplomacy and all I got was this lousy PDF,” but which another student (who nonetheless contributed his own choice) relabeled “Keeping Josh Gross’ nerdy thread alive…” Around here, we all embrace our inner nerd!
So, future students and friends, here are the procrastination results — links to books and articles, with the students’ comments included, but with their names omitted:
I am adding a couple of suggestions to the list, just so that Josh doesn’t feel too lonely: 1) Michael J. Glennon (yet again): “How International Rules Die” and 2) Johan Galtung: “Violence, Peace and Peace Research”.
I love this idea! I highly recommend these books: A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner; Seeing Like a State, by James C. Scott (esp. chapters 1 and 9); The Mystery of Capital, by Hernando de Soto.
For a little MIB perspective, on the morality of microfinance, I recommend: “Chu vs. Yunus – Is it Fair to do Business with the Poor?” Also, as a more basic overview of the role of finance in development, and in particular, whether firm size matters, I quite like Levine et al. “Finance, Firm Size and Growth”. Go Finance Go!
At the risk of sounding like a psychopath, Hugo Slim’s Killing Civilians: Method, Madness, and Morality in War was one of my faves. Not to be read after dark!
Timothy Brook: Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World — my pick for book of the year. The author deciphers Johannes Vermeer’s paintings to reveal how the 17th century world was already globally connected. For a starter: Why was Jean Nicollet, a French explorer, wearing a Chinese robe when he met the chief of the Winnebago native Americans in 1634? Read chapter two to find out.
“Electoral Systems and Conflict in Divided Societies,” by Ben Reilly and Andrew Reynolds in International Conflict Resolution After the Cold War. This is one of the clearest, most comprehensive pieces about electoral systems I’ve ever read. If you ever want to know how electoral design can mitigate or exacerbate conflict, this is the piece you want. Not surprisingly, it’s from Professor Babbitt’s Conflict Resolution Theory class.
I liked “Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases” by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, which Prof. Gideon assigned in Analytic Frameworks. Behavioral economics is pretty hot right now, and this is one of the founding documents.
There you have it, blog readers. The students’ picks for your summer reading. Is this required for those of you about to start your Fletcher studies? Definitely not! (Unless, of course, you’re at work and want to procrastinate.) But I hope the list gives you a sense of the breadth of students’ interests, as well as their engagement with the subject matter. Happy reading!
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