Posts by: Jessica Daniels
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.
Tagged with: Human Rights Practicum
This evening, Fletcher will host Boston Summerfest, which means that at 5:30, the Hall of Flags will suddenly throw off its summer quiet and lively up. It’ll be…Summerfestive! Jointly with our colleagues from Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Princeton, we’ll welcome Fletcher students, alumni of all our schools, and prospective students interested in international affairs graduate study. We’re excited about this first-ever Boston Summerfest event.
Later this summer, we’ll also participate in similar events in Washington, DC and New York City, the two cities where Summerfest has been held before. If you’re interested in any of the Summerfest dates, register now at the links above. But registered or not, if you’re in the neighborhood, don’t hesitate to turn up tonight! Walk-ins will be welcome.
We look forward to seeing you here or at a future Summerfest!
In an annual tradition, we’ve asked recent graduates and current students to offer a Coffee Hour wherever they’re spending the summer. These are informal events where prospective applicants and incoming students can sit and chat with someone who’s in the know about the program. Here’s the list of locations where folks will be grabbing a coffee and pulling up a chair. For updated details, check the Coffee Hours website.
Boston, MA (Cambridge)
Boston, MA (Somerville)
Durban, South Africa
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kansas City, KS
Mexico City, Mexico
New Delhi, India
New York, NY (Manhattan)
New York, NY (Brooklyn)
Ramallah, West Bank
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seoul, South Korea
Tagged with: Coffee Hours
Continuing the Q&A advice from the Admissions Graduate Assistants (GAs), we’ll turn first to a critical piece of wisdom — where to study. As I noted yesterday, the GAs answered these questions a few weeks ago, at the very end of the spring semester.
What is your favorite on-campus study space?
Ashley: I like sitting outside of Ginn Library most of the time, because there’s plenty of light from outside and sometimes you get the pleasant break of a friend walking by and saying hello. But if that’s not studious enough for you, the third floor of Ginn also has a bank of windows that makes working inside a lot more tolerable!
Brooklyn: The third floor of Ginn Library. There are windows and sunlight and you can pretend that you are outside doing something more exciting than finance problem sets.
Cindy: I am the kind of person who likes my surroundings to be quiet when I am reading material for my classes. I enjoy sitting in the Ginn Library or reserving study rooms in the Cabot basement. If I am getting simple tasks done (checking e-mails, getting organized), I like the high-top tables in the Hall of Flags.
Dristy: In my first year, my favorite study space was the area outside Ginn Library, both for the daylight as well as the potential to socialize. And in my second year, I spent most of my time in the Mugar Computer Lab that only Fletcher students have access to. This was mostly because I took classes that required the use of certain software available on school computers, but it proved to be a great study and work space.
How/where did you meet most of your Fletcher friends? (In class, Orientation, student activities?)
Ashley: I had the benefit of both of my roommates being in pre-session classes while I was getting settled in Somerville — so I met a lot of folks through them. Certainly Orientation was the first big chance to meet new faces, but I think from there friendships developed organically, inside and outside of class, and through the friends I’d already begun to make. I still find myself making new friends, even in my last semester.
Brooklyn: I met most of my Fletcher friends during Orientation, but didn’t really become friends until well along in the first semester. Be open to going to social events, even through your school work might make it feel prohibitive. Think of it as networking!
Cindy: I met most of the people I spend time with in class and during extracurricular activities that I regularly attend. I also met some wonderful people at social hours, which happen on Thursdays. I would recommend forming study/reading groups with classmates as a way to get to know each other, and I also recommend going to as many events as possible during the fall to meet fellow classmates early on.
Dristy: I met most of my closest Fletcher friends in class and at events/activities organized by student organizations. Those were the natural ways to meet people with shared interests while spending time doing what we enjoy.
What is something you regret not doing while at Fletcher? (Help incoming students to avoid making the same mistake.)
Ashley: To be honest, I am struggling to answer this question — it seems as though I’ve done a lot in two years here! — but I suppose I wish I had gone into Boston more often. I already know the city pretty well, but there are always new things to do and places to visit. It’s just too easy to remain in the Fletcher environs, as there is no shortage of things to do and people to see here, either!
Brooklyn: I regret not applying to internships sooner. Not sure where you want to be? Who cares! If you apply to an investment bank and decide later on that it’s not a good fit for you, then you can always turn down an offer. On the other hand, you will never get an offer if you missed the application deadlines. You’ll never learn to swim if you don’t get in the pool!
Cindy: I regret not going to any of the Open Mic Nights this year. I heard awesome things about them, and I wish I had made the time for at least one. I also regret having a lot of late afternoon and evening classes this semester. I missed some really great events that I wish I could have gone to.
Dristy: As I wrap up my time at Fletcher, when I look back, I feel honored to have had this journey, but there are two things that I will always regret not doing enough of during my time here. First, I wish I had taken more advantage of office hour with professors. I think it would have allowed me to strengthen my relationships with them and added significantly to my learning experience. Second, I regret not participating enough in school-wide events, especially in my second year. As my course load increased with the semester, it became more difficult to prioritize attending events, such as talks by guest speakers, panel discussions, etc. These events have proven to be incredible opportunities to expand my knowledge and understanding of topics outside class and beyond my area of interest, so I definitely wish I had attended more of those during my time here.
What additional tips would you offer to incoming students?
Ashley: Enjoy your time at Fletcher! With graduation right around the corner for me, I can assure you it goes by pretty quickly. As important as the work you’ll be doing is, don’t forget to make plenty of time for the truly excellent community of people that Fletcher has to offer.
Brooklyn: Graduate school is what you make of it, so get involved early. Don’t let your dreams be dreams!
Cindy: Don’t be afraid to ask for help; don’t worry about not being able to do everything; have an open mind; put yourself in new situations; and take the time to hang out with your friends! Your time at Fletcher will go by so quickly, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it!
Dristy: I encourage incoming students to take advantage of the Shopping Day, Course Evaluations, and insights from second years/alumni to help them select courses. I would also highly recommend taking the foreign language exam early in your time at Fletcher (especially the oral exam, which in some cases may require you to coordinate with professors outside Tufts).
So far, I’ve shared the lists of suggested (but hardly required) reading, and now I have some advice for incoming students from our Admissions Office Graduate Assistants (GAs). Before they left campus, we asked Ashley, Brooklyn, Cindy, and Dristy (ABC&D) for their answers to a few questions. Their responses are below and will continue tomorrow.
Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?
Ashley: Get a little bit of a plan in order. Some things (your finances!) require more careful planning than others, but it doesn’t hurt to get a good handle on what sorts of classes you might like to take, what your commute to campus will be like, or where you might like to explore in the Boston area. You should be ready to deviate from that plan once you get here, but having given it some thought ahead of time will make those first few weeks a little less overwhelming and will allow you to get your footing more quickly. Already knowing some of my options made it a lot easier to make decisions with all of the new information I got upon arrival.
Brooklyn: Prepare for the equivalency exams! If you have studied a subject before (statistics or economics) you can test out of the lower level classes, but it’s likely that you will need a little bit of a refresher on the content prior to taking the exam. It really helps you get the most out of your time at Fletcher because, since you are only here for two years, you don’t want to waste your time on a class you’ve already taken just because you were too lazy over the summer to crack open a book for a few hours.
Cindy: If you have time off in the summer before you officially come to Fletcher, maybe plan a trip to visit the Boston/Medford/Somerville area, just to get a feel for what it’s like to live here. My husband and I made a trip up to secure housing, and we also took the time to visit the Tufts/Fletcher campus, eat at a couple of great restaurants, and take some scenic drives/walks around the area.
A second thing I would recommend is to brush up on your language skills if you know that you have been out of practice for a little while. I took time over the summer to study Russian, which is the language I plan to test for, which was very helpful for transitioning to Fletcher.
Last, read up about the Design and Monitoring course offered during the August pre-session. It’s only offered once each year, right before the fall semester, and it is also a pretty popular class. I will be taking it this summer before I start my second year, and I wish I had talked to other students about the course when I first started, to see if it was something I really wanted to gain experience in. I am very glad I have a chance to take it in August!
Dristy: I encourage incoming students to rest, relax, and spend time with family and friends before commencing this journey. I also encourage brushing up on foreign language skills over the summer because, once the semester begins, it gets difficult to carve out time to prepare for the exam. Also, those who intend on taking the economics and quantitative equivalency tests, I would encourage them to review the material over the summer. Since the equivalency exams take place during Orientation week, you may not have time to brush up directly before the exams.
For international students, especially those who have not visited or lived in the U.S. before, I strongly encourage you to reach out to current international students to get useful insights and tips on how to navigate some of the basics in the U.S., for example, where to buy (and costs for) bedding, personal care supplies, phone plans, etc.
Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do before starting their Fletcher studies?
Ashley: Don’t stress! Easier said than done, I know. And certainly, don’t feel bad when you inevitably are stressed in your first semester — being back in school can be a huge adjustment, not to mention being (for many people) in a new place, meeting new people, and so on. But you need not add to your anxiety level in these last few months before Fletcher begins with worries about how everything will go, whether you’ll make new friends, if your apartment will be livable, etc. (Everything will go just fine and there are people to help you if it doesn’t. You’ll absolutely make friends, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time in your apartment anyway!)
Brooklyn: Do NOT wait until starting your Fletcher studies to start thinking about bigger picture items such as “What do I want to get out of my time here? Are there any non-academic goals I want to set? Are there any faculty/staff who could be helpful in reaching these goals? Where do I want to intern/work after Fletcher? What sectors really interest me?” School can seem pretty overwhelming at first, but if you have some of the bigger picture items at least somewhat outlined, it helps you fill in the rest of the pieces of the puzzle (like which classes to take and which extracurricular activities to get involved in) as you start moving on your first semester.
Cindy: Do not stress about housing! I looked for hours and days in a row to try and find a place for my husband, dog, and me, and I agonized over it. While it is tough finding a dog-friendly apartment at a reasonable price, we eventually found a place and are happy.
Dristy: It is exciting to think about classes and all the interesting things you are going to learn at Fletcher, but I would suggest incoming students not worry about figuring out classes for the fall semester or how to fulfill the breadth and depth requirements. We offer Shopping Days at the beginning of every semester when many professors give brief introductions to the courses they are offering that semester. I found the Shopping Days incredibly helpful to learn about courses and professors, and they helped me a lot in making decisions about what classes to take.
Wrapping up the reading suggestions for summer 2017 is a list from the faculty. My request to the professors was only that their book picks be interesting or have relevance to the courses they teach, but if they described a selection, I’ve included the explanation. Where there’s no explanation of the book choice, you can find the theme by looking at the professor’s profile.
Beach Music, by Pat Conroy. A relaxing novel before the work begins
Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
The Law of Nations: An Introduction to the International Law of Peace, edited by Sir Claud Humphrey Waldock and James Leslie Brierly
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, by Rebecca Goldstein
The Essential Holmes, edited by Richard A. Posner
“Melian Dialogue,” in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, (translated by Rex Warner)
A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt
West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
Imperium, by Robert Harris
The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, by Thomas Healy
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, by Louis Menand
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
An Imaginary Life, by David Malouf.
While everyone by now should have read Albert Camus’ The Stranger (L’Etranger), it is worth reading again as an introduction to Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, contre-euquete). The latter, a reprise of Camus from the perspective of the Arab victim in The Stranger, received well-deserved critical praise when it was published in 2015. While not as profound as Camus, Daoud’s reply is well worth reading and offers both an anti-colonial counterpoint (not innovative, but well done) and an interesting gloss on existence and identity. It’s probably better to read both in French, if possible, but it’s not necessary to do so.
The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy, by Richard Locke. This book is the most comprehensive study to date evaluating the impact of company codes of conduct on labor standards in global supply chains.
The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done About It, by David Weil. This book argues that widening income inequality has more to do with organizational innovations than technological change.
“Why Diversity Programs Fail,” Harvard Business Review (2016, July 1), by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev. This is an easy to read article with a provocative view of diversity programs.
50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark. If you have not written papers in a long time (or maybe ever) this book contains many helpful insights.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
Professor Pearl Robinson (Professor Robinson is primarily affiliated with the Tufts Department of Political Science but also teaches at Fletcher.)
Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa, by Ousman Oumar Kane. This is one of the best books I’ve read about Africa in the past decade. I consider it a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the political, religious, and intellectual complexities of the Islamic landscape in contemporary Africa.
The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
In God’s Name: An Investigation Into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, by David Yallop. This is a tremendous book, regardless of your religious views. There is much more about banking in this book than you might imagine. Given the situation in Italy, this is really must reading.
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West, by Edward Rice. This is an awesome story, it will change you.
So far this week I’ve pointed you toward a student’s suggested summer reading list and a student-run blog. Today I’d like to highlight the Capstone Projects that students have written and then shared with the Tufts Digital Library.
The current Capstone requirement allows for a final product in many different forms, including a thesis. Not so many years ago, a traditional thesis was the only option. As a result, the projects can be found in two places: under Fletcher Capstone and under Fletcher Thesis, with some overlap between the two. There are many summers worth of reading in there, but of course you can pick and choose.
I just rediscovered a note to myself from last November and, even half a year later, I’d like to highlight this interesting alumni news item. A Fletcher 2003 graduate, Adam Hinds, was elected last fall to the Massachusetts Senate. He won handily and, with about ten years of experience with the United Nations on his résumé, brings an unusual background to a state legislature. As with most things, you can follow his work on Facebook.
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