Posts by: Jessica Daniels
It has been a long time (two years, to be precise) since I asked applicants what admissions-related information they would like to see in the blog in November, December, and beyond. I have been feeling that I could use some inspiration and guidance, so I’m reintroducing the blog survey, and calling upon readers to help me out. Is there a topic that you would like to learn more about — more than the information you find on the website, or receive in an email, or learn during an information session? Please tell me about it in this one question survey. The blog is truly the best place to share details about and explanations of the fine points of the process, as well as the School, so please don’t hold back! I look forward to reading (and answering) your questions.
With today’s post, I’m returning to our occasional Faculty Spotlight series. These posts are designed to bring out an aspect of the professor’s background or experience at Fletcher that goes beyond the basics of a c.v. Today we’ll hear from Lawrence Krohn, Professor of Practice of International Economics, who currently teaches Introduction to Economic Theory, Macroeconomics, and Macroeconomic Problems of Middle Income Countries: Focus on Latin America.
I was smitten at 17. Deeply in love. The University of Pennsylvania’s economics faculty, however eminent, was not my inspiration; in four years, I hardly ever saw them. It was the subject matter itself that seduced me. Only much later, over the years, did I discover that this strange passion, this way of viewing the world, was shared by economists of wide-ranging personalities, nationalities, political persuasions. I suspect that my colleagues in economics at Fletcher feel just as I do.
Many individuals of humanistic persuasion, knowing economics only by reputation (often as the “dismal science”), might well wonder what sort of person could be enthralled by money and finance. Therein lies the error: economics is only superficially about money and finance. Its ultimate domain is that of human wants and our world’s highly constrained ability to satisfy them. Many emotions are thereby touched; economics is about people.
The so-called economics “imperialists” among us maintain that most issues that do not appear economic in nature are indeed so at their core. I don’t share this extreme position, as it implicitly depreciates other perspectives I respect, such as the political, social, and psychological. But I do agree that few real-world phenomena are without important economic aspects, so the tools of economics remain indispensable to all thinking persons, not least those pursuing a curriculum of international affairs!
Economic modeling daunts some students – but without good reason. Modeling is a tool of simplification, not complication. It reduces often complex issues to their essentials by paring away the irrelevant, while retaining strict logical consistency. Yes, at modeling’s highest professional levels, complex math is unavoidable. But models a Fletcher student will encounter rely on basic accounting (high school algebra with some clothes on) and a few simple, but powerful, assumptions about the behavior of consumers, firms, and governments. Thus, fear of models is unwarranted and the intellectual reward to a modicum of concentration on them is high.
I’ve been doubly fortunate: first, to have had two entirely complementary careers — the longer one, as international economist for several global banks, sandwiched by two stints (including the present one) in academia. As a former academic, I was well equipped for the simplification required to explain complex economic phenomena to portfolio managers who, their energy and intelligence notwithstanding, were in no way trained economists. Conversely, at Fletcher since 2005 (full-time since 2008), I have been able to draw amply on my real-world experience in global finance.
Second, I was lucky as well to have stumbled fortuitously onto Latin America in the 1980s, despite the lack of any ethnic or other association with the region. What a laboratory for economists that continent has always been and remains! Its problems, like those of other middle-income nations, have been related to, but still distinct from the more familiar ones of industrial nations.
With hindsight, it is relatively easy to identify policy errors that have been made; more difficult to define optimal policies. Whenever I deal with economic policy — even in a developed-nation context — I start from the premise that governments almost always execute policy inefficiently (often corruptly as well). Alas, given the myriad real-world departures (called market distortions or imperfections) from market fundamentalists’ Smithian ideal, unfettered market forces also prove notoriously inefficient, and are often, moreover, perceived as unfair (admittedly, a subjective notion).
So the question becomes for each contemplated policy, how much state intervention is desirable. Where should the line be drawn between the completely planned economy and laissez-faire? Honest and well informed observers can legitimately disagree on the answers, which is what makes economic debate so endlessly fascinating.
Tagged with: Faculty Spotlight
At this point, we can see the end of the travel season, which I kicked off back in September. Today, Liz reports on her trips with our peer schools in the Group of Five (G5).
I’ve just returned from a couple of weeks on the road, traveling with representatives from four of our peer institutions: Johns Hopkins, SAIS; Columbia, SIPA; Princeton, WWS; and Georgetown, SFS. Over 40 years ago, these five schools that together we call the “Group of Five” (G5) decided that if we traveled together, we would reach more prospective students for our programs and could cover more regions of the world. The schools tested out the idea, and we’ve been traveling together ever since. We collaboratively decide where we would like to target our outreach for the year, and then work together to plan the trips. During these trips we try to offer general graduate school advice, while also highlighting what makes our schools both similar and unique. I like this recruiting method, as we also get to know our colleagues quite well (you learn a lot while traveling by minivan!) and we have a chance to see many different regions of the U.S. and beyond.
My first G5 trip this year was here in New England. I was in charge of planning, which was neat since the visits were in our “backyard.” Despite occasional rain, it was a beautiful trip, as the leaves were turning into stunning fall foliage. We met some great candidates and I’ve heard from several students who decided to visit the Fletcher campus as a follow up! Here is the New England group prior to our session at Amherst College.
Other times, if we’re not able to find a session time that works for our travel schedule and the class schedule of the college we’re visiting, we will set up a table in a common area. Here we are tabling at University of Massachusetts.
After New England, I was off to California to do similar visits in the Bay Area. We covered a lot of ground, and had a chance to see some of America’s most famous (and beautiful!) bridges. We had fantastic weather, and most importantly, we had really great school visits, where we met interesting prospective students.
We also try to find ways to have a little fun during our group travel weeks. Here we are checking out the large Redwood trees, seeing the famous “Bucky the Bronco” at Santa Clara University, and posing with members of the academic council at University of California, Davis.
Overall my two weeks with the G5 were really successful. It’s always fun to see other parts of the U.S., reconnect with colleagues, and meet new people. I’ve completed my travel obligations for the year, but Fletcher is still on the road! Laurie is off to Asia soon (also doing G5 travel), and Dan is currently on his own G5 Pennsylvania trek, having visited South America earlier this year. Keep your eye on our travel schedule, to see where else you can meet us on the road!
Tagged with: Travel
I’ve been keeping an eye on the digest version that I receive of the Fletcher Social List, and I’m planning to share a day’s listing that best captures the scope of student community discussion. I haven’t found it yet, but on a more amusing note, I thought I’d share the ten messages that were sent between 4:00 p.m. on Friday and 3:59 p.m. on Saturday. This must be a record low email rate for the academic year, but the Halloween theme came through nice and strong. The topics:
SEEKING: Brown Sandals Size 11 or 12
SEEKING: Halloween costume ideas (two messages on this topic)
SEEKING: Yellow Hat
SEEKING: Red Bow Tie
SEEKING: Black feather boa
Free food in Hall of Flags (courtesy of Saturday’s Religion, Law, and Diplomacy conference)
SEEKING: Hard hat to borrow
SEEKING: Straw Hat
PSA: Set your clocks back tonight
I’ll be back soon with a run-down of Social List content that reflects a more typical day, but this is the wonder of the List — it’s whatever students need/want it to be.
Tagged with: Social List
Since it moved to Fletcher a few years ago, the World Peace Foundation has become an ever more integral part of the community, creating opportunities for students to conduct research and participate in the organization of conferences, as well as creating awareness of important topics on the world scene. Today I’m sharing a news-filled email that WPF sent us earlier this week.
The World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School has some exciting updates this fall that we would like to share with you:
• We hosted an annual student seminar competition, inviting Fletcher students to conceive of a two-day seminar on any topic related to peace, broadly understood. WPF helps the winners organize the seminar, including bringing top experts to campus, and funds the entire event. The winners this year are: Medha Basu, David Cronin, Héctor Portillo, and Sumaya Saluja (all second-year MALD students), and Bret McEvoy (PhD candidate) for the proposal, “Masculinity: Men, Violence, and Transformation.”
• WPF is providing core funding to the Tufts Initiative on Mass Atrocities and Genocide this academic year, a financial cushion for the initiative as multi-year fundraising efforts continue.
• We have two new book-length publications: Alex de Waal’s The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and The Business of Power (Polity Press 2015); and Advocacy in Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Transnational Activism (Zed Books 2015), edited by Alex de Waal with recent Fletcher graduates, Jennifer Ambrose, Casey Hogle, Trisha Taneja, and Keren Yohannes.
• Alex de Waal’s research on mass famine released in conjunction with the Global Hunger Index recently received strong media coverage, with articles in the Washington Post, NPR, and an AP story that was picked up by The New York Times, Huffington Post and U.S. News & World Report, among others. He also had an article in The Lancet.
• A WPF research team led by Senior Fellow Mulugeta Gebrehiwot is working on a report requested by the African Union (AU) evaluating how the AU conceives and implements its peace missions. The report will be released in Spring 2016, and offer recommendations to the AU on how to improve its conflict mediation, peacekeeping deployments, and post-conflict stabilization efforts.
• In addition to our core staff, Alex de Waal, Bridget Conley-Zilkic and Lisa Avery, WPF has two Senior Fellows, Mulugeta Gebrehiwot and Dyan Mazurana; short-term fellows Sarah Nouwen (September to December) and Kenneth Nwoko (November); and has employed more than ten students this fall alone in a range of roles to help support our research projects.
Tagged with: World Peace Foundation
Organizers of an upcoming conference asked me to share information with blog readers who are welcome to attend!
The first-ever Fletcher School Religion, Law, and Diplomacy Conference is just around the corner on Saturday, October 31, 2015. The conference will bring together academics, practitioners, and religious leaders to demonstrate the role that religion plays across myriad issues, spanning security, conflict resolution, human rights, and civic engagement. The three conference panels — Security and Conflict, Rights and the State, and Politics and Identity — will provide a forum to discuss how religion affects these spheres and how an understanding of religious influences improves policy-making.
For anyone interested in attending, registration is free. Please visit the conference website to register in advance. This is one of two new student-led conferences this fall, along with the upcoming forum on Gender and International Affairs.
Tagged with: Conferences
Today, I’m happy to introduce the first post from one of the new students who will report on their Fletcher experience in the Student Stories feature. Tatsuo and I met last summer when he had recently arrived on campus, and I’m very excited to be able to highlight the experience of a student from Japan. Fletcher benefits every year from the perspective of Japanese students, many of whom, like Tatsuo, have been sponsored by the organizations for which they work. I’ll let Tatsuo supply the details.
Hello! I am Tatsuo Sakai, a first-year MALD student. I feel very happy to have the opportunity to share with you my future tough, but surely enjoyable, days at Fletcher, by posting in the Admissions blog.
My first-priority interest at Fletcher is international development. I’d like to study theories and practical implications of development today. I think there is a lot of room to pursue interdisciplinary work examining development studies for developing countries and regional development policies in well-developed countries. I believe such integrated studies can contribute to both the less developed countries and to disadvantaged areas in well-developed countries.
Additionally, I am also interested in security studies. As I will explain later, a position in homeland security is one of my future possible jobs.
Before Fletcher, I worked in the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), as a legal officer in three areas:
1) The city planning division
2) The international affairs office for Civil Aviation, and
3) The road administration division.
During my five years in MLIT, I worked on planning policies for reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011; negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other economic partnership agreements; reform of public road policies, including the introduction of private funding into public infrastructure projects; and promoting disaster response capabilities.
As a ministry official who was assigned to study abroad with a Japanese government long-term fellowship, I had some options for my graduate studies, from the west coast to the east coast, and including public policy schools or design/planning schools. Finally, I decided to study at Fletcher for three reasons.
1) Fletcher’s broad and flexible curriculum
I am a person who cannot narrow my interests into a certain area. Thus, in my work, I was in charge of broad fields, from very domestic policy, such as city planning legislation, to global negotiations with foreign counterparts, for example for the TPP. I may even be assigned to be a Coast Guard officer in the future. I am curious about and able to enjoy everything I encounter. In this, my first semester at Fletcher, I am taking four courses — Law and Development, Development Economics: Policy Analysis, Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance, and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies. The classes are very diverse, from law to economics to security studies. Fletcher has courses and professors with expertise in many different areas, and we can take any courses we want within the program’s flexible requirements.
2) The community
Fletcher is well known, even in Japan, for its strong community. After other Japanese students and I received our admission decisions from Fletcher, one of Fletcher’s alumni, the Pakistani ambassador in Japan, held a welcome party at his official residence. We met many alumni from various government sections and countries. I also feel the strength of the Fletcher community as a student here. It’s my first time living in a foreign country, but I enjoy and relax with friendly support from classmates, even in an unfamiliar environment and with a tough workload. I surely believe that the tight bonds in the community will contribute to our success around the world.
3) Fletcher’s reputation in international affairs
As you know, Fletcher is the oldest graduate school for international relations in the world. We have a lot of successful alumni who have built a great reputation for the School in the United Nations, World Bank, or other international organizations, and of course, governments and the private sector. The reputation prevails even where I didn’t expect it. When I traveled to a rural town in Montana this summer, I wore a sweatshirt with a Fletcher logo. An old couple asked me, “Are you a Fletcher student?” I said yes, and then, they said, “You can save the world! Please do it!” I was surprised and really proud at that moment.
I have nearly completed my second month at Fletcher. I’m looking forward to experiencing many strange, curious, surprising, and enjoyable events during my two years. I hope you will enjoy sharing my experience at Fletcher through my posts in the blog!
Though I was content to be the office slacker for a week, I finally put together the time and concentration needed to read a bunch of applications for January enrollment. My limited sample included experienced professionals and compelling personal stories — exactly what makes reading applications so interesting.
Because the vast majority of our 2015-16 applicants have not submitted applications yet, I want to take a minute to share a tip. More than a tip, it’s an annual plea. Is it regarding some obscure aspect of the application? Ummm, no. Actually, my tip concerns just about the most fundamental aspect of applying. And here it is: please answer the questions in the application form.
I know that the application form can seem tedious or repetitive, but the questions are there for a reason. When you don’t answer them, you can leave us wondering about holes in your background narrative. We might find ourselves asking: What accounts for this long gap in time? At what level are your foreign language skills? In what years did you live in the country of your birth before you emigrated? What is/was your parents’ work, and what led them to move the family for part of your childhood?
Beyond the fact that Admissions Committee readers are left with questions, by not completing the application thoroughly, you are giving up an opportunity to tell us the maximum amount about yourself. I do understand that there may be questions that strike applicants as excessively nosy — and skipping those questions remains an option — but we ask for a reason and we do appreciate it when the application is complete.
So there it is, my annual plea. Take the time to complete the application as thoroughly as possible. The Admissions Committee members who read your story will appreciate it.
Sometimes there’s a positive side to being a little slow to post. Today I can tell you about a conference that took place on October 8th and 9th, but also provide some follow-up.
As the 2016 presidential race heats up, foreign policy looks like it will play a prominent role in the campaign. Even at this embryonic stage, the presidential candidates have weighed in on a myriad number of foreign affairs topics, including the nuclear deal with Iran, the war against the Islamic State, the proper U.S. approach towards immigration, and Sino-American relations. The salience of foreign affairs has waxed and waned in post-Cold War presidential campaigns. Based on the campaign rhetoric and polling to date, however, 2016 will be a year when it matters.
Saying that foreign affairs will be a campaign issue gives rise to some important questions, however. How do candidates develop their foreign policy worldview? What is the relationship between foreign policy expertise and the candidate and campaign staff? Do campaign pledges on foreign affairs matter if a candidate wins? And how does all of the campaign rhetoric on foreign policy look to the rest of the world? We will tackle these questions with a conference of journalists, scholars, pollsters, policy practitioners, and international observers — part of a larger, multiyear, overarching project on the ideas industry in American foreign policy.
And here’s the schedule of topics and speakers:
Welcome and Introduction — Daniel W. Drezner, The Fletcher School
What does the public care about in 2016?
Liz Mair, Mair Strategies, chair
Richard Eichenberg, Tufts University
Dina Smeltz, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Lynn Vavreck, UCLA
Bruce Stokes, Pew Research Center
What role do foreign policy advisors play in campaign politics?
Susan Glasser, Politico, chair
Alex Wong, Office of Senator Tom Cotton
Marie Harf, U.S. Department of State
Rosa Brooks, Georgetown University
Kori Schake, Hoover Institution
The view from the 2016 campaigns
Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, chair
Laura Rosenberger, Hillary for America
Doug Stafford, Rand Paul for President
Brian Hook, Lattitude LLC
Mike Gallagher, Walker for America
The view from the rest of the world
Ian Johnstone, The Fletcher School, chair
Yehuda Yaakov, Israeli Consul General
Lana Zak, ABC News
Suzanne Maloney, Brookings Institution
Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post
Do campaign pledges even matter on foreign policy?
Jeffrey Taliaferro, Tufts University, chair
Jamelle Bouie, Slate
Elizabeth Saunders, George Washington University
Douglas Foyle, Wesleyan University
Gautam Mukunda, Harvard University
Want to catch up on the conference discussions? First, you can read Professor Drezner’s Washington Post column reflecting on conference take-aways. Second, you can review the Twitter chatter. And, last, you can watch recordings of the panels, starting with Professor Drezner’s introduction.
Applications for January enrollment were due only one week ago, but we’re already looking toward the end of the process. We’ll continue reading/discussing the applications and then, when they all have had their moment, we’ll pivot immediately to finalizing decisions. It’s our most compact application review period, but we don’t have much time to play with — admitted students need to make plans!
While we complete that process, we’re also turning toward the Early Notification deadline of November 15 (three and a half weeks away!). More and more questions fill the inbox as prospective students get serious about their applications. If you’re one of those people, I might suggest you peruse our Application Boot Camp posts from about one year ago.
I have been the office slacker when it comes to reading the applications for January enrollment. Creating a block of time to read is on my list for this afternoon.
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