Building Bridges Research Symposium

At noon today, Kristen and I will be offering an information session for Tufts undergraduates studying international relations.  We enjoy connecting this way with our friends in the School of Arts and Sciences, one of the two main undergraduate programs, along with the School of Engineering.  We’ll be joined by two Double Jumbos, who will describe their path from when they graduated from Tufts to when they enrolled at Fletcher.  Though Kristen and I have been offering these sessions each fall for several years now, today’s blog post is about a new cooperative initiative, launched by two second-year MALD students, Rafael Loss and Suzanne Webb. 

Before you read Rafael’s report, I want to take a second to point out that students develop many new activities each year.  With a good plan and a little hustle, you can make any number of things happen.  And one brief explanatory note: Packard Avenue is the street running in front of Fletcher.  You’ll see the reference in Rafael’s story below.

Over the past months, Suzanne Webb and I have worked hard to create the inaugural Building Bridges Research Symposium, an undergraduate research symposium, which will take place at The Fletcher School this Friday, November 4th.

In conversations with students, staff, and faculty, both at Fletcher and at the various undergraduate programs at Tufts University, we heard time and again people lament the perceived “Packard Avenue gap”: the sense that there is little exchange between graduate and undergraduate students.  We know that Fletcher is sometimes perceived as its own little galaxy in the Tufts universe.  Likewise, Fletcher students usually encounter Tufts undergraduates only in Ginn Library during finals, when everyone is fighting for study space.

Given the vast experience of Fletcher students in all areas of international affairs and beyond, and Tufts students’ equally diverse research interests, we thought that a research symposium would be a great forum for exchange to bridge the gap.  We approached Fletcher administrators and established contacts with Tufts undergraduate degree programs and Tufts institutions including the Jonathan M. Tisch College for Civic Life and Tufts’ Institute for Global Leadership.  Everyone we spoke to enthusiastically supported our idea and made valuable suggestions for the event.

In addition to the great advice, we were also extremely fortunate to receive funding from the Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement.  Thanks to their generous support, our presenters and audience members will be well caffeinated and fed at the event.

On September 16th, we sent out the call for applications for the inaugural Building Bridges Research Symposium and only a few days later we received the first submission.  By the end of the deadline, roughly a dozen Tufts undergraduates had submitted proposals.  On November 4th, ten of them will present their research in front of their peers and Fletcher students in three panels chaired by Fletcher PhD candidates Megan Rounseville and Rebecca Tapscott, and MALD candidate Rachel Porter.  Fletcher’s Professor of International Humanitarian Studies Kimberly Theidon will deliver the welcoming remarks.

After months of planning, coordinating, and advertising, we are thrilled that our event is around the corner.  We hope that this first research symposium will spark continued exchange between Fletcher and Tufts students on academic research, that it will be further institutionalized, and that the conference will become an annual highlight on the Tufts and Fletcher calendars.

You can see the full Symposium schedule here.

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