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A real milestone on the road to the fall semester is today’s start of the August pre-session.  During the pre-session, incoming MIB students take Strategic Management.  At the same time as it’s a required (core) course, being in the class is also a good opportunity for the MIB cohort to come together.  Other students (both incoming and second-years) can (and do) join in.

The other pre-session class is Design and Monitoring of Peacebuilding and Development Programming.  It’s the first stop for students focused on Design, Monitoring and Evaluation, and I hear that it more than keeps them busy.

Pre-session today.  Orientation two weeks from today.  The fall semester is coming soon!

 

A bunch of years ago, a task that was tossed my way was to sift through boxes and boxes of photos and figure out which should go to the Tufts Digital Library.  There were all sorts of gems in there and I had some favorites.  Here is one.

Fletcher welcomed its first students in 1933, which would make this a photo from the sixth academic year.  Compared with the students of today, there are more suits and a higher proportion of men in this group photo.  I can’t even tell where it was taken.  Some room that has been renovated many times in the intervening years, I suppose.

There are plenty of other Fletcher pix in the archives.  Have a look and find your own favorites!

 

Continuing to shamelessly take advantage of the rare summer when we have a student or recent graduate working in the office, I asked Rafael to tell us about his experience with the International Security Studies Program.  Here’s what he had to say.  (Note that we all use “international security studies” to refer, alternately and confusingly, to both the Field of Study and the program that offers out-of-class programming.)


Jessica asked me to write about security studies at Fletcher, and this is a great opportunity for me to reflect upon my 21 months as a MALD student.  One thing to note, though, is that I can provide only my own perspective, simply because there is so much to experience and learn here in security studies and related fields.

But first a little bit of history.

Though the study of peace and security had been part of the Fletcher curriculum since its founding in 1933, the International Security Studies Program (ISSP) was formally established only in 1971, at a time when the U.S. was deeply divided by the Vietnam War.  Since then, course offerings and research interests have evolved as the global political landscape has changed.  Professor Richard Shultz, Director of the ISSP, and Professor Robert Pfaltzgraff reflected on the ISSP’s history in a special edition of The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs on the School’s 80th anniversary back in 2013.

In 2000, under the leadership of then Dean John Galvin, who, like the current Dean James Stavridis, held the post of Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Fletcher founded the Institute for Human Security (IHS), currently led by Professor Eileen Babbitt.  IHS brings together students and faculty specializing in areas as diverse as law, politics, public health, psychology, and economics to conduct cutting edge research, education, and policy engagement on today’s global challenges, with an ultimate focus on the well-being of all human beings.

The most recent institutional addition to security studies at Fletcher is the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS).  Established just this year by Professor Monica Toft, CSS aims to generate cutting-edge scholarly analysis that broadens the U.S. foreign policy debate.  Having just graduated, I will sadly miss the great research and programming through which CSS will enrich the Fletcher community.  Fortunately, during my last semester, I had the pleasure of participating in Professor Toft’s half-semester seminar on Current Topics in International Relations and Security Policy.  Because the course allowed me to revisit many topics I had studied over the prior two years, it provided a nice conclusion to my career in security studies at Fletcher.

But as for so many ISSP folks, it all began on a Monday morning at 7:45 a.m. in The Role of Force in International Politics, the core course of the International Security Studies Field of Study taught by Professor Shultz, and a tour de force through the conceptual foundations and history of security studies as well as an introduction to U.S. security policy.  The following spring, I audited Policy and Strategy in the Origins, Conduct, and Termination of War (commonly known here as “Shultz II”), a history of war from Thucydides to Frederick C. Weyand.

To complete and complement my security studies curriculum, I took The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs, which teaches students empathy, detachment, and skepticism in their reading of historical events, Religion and Politics, and Nuclear Dossiers: U.S. Priorities, Dilemmas and Challenges in a Time of Nuclear Disorder.  I also took the opportunity to venture beyond Fletcher and cross-registered for several courses at Harvard.

While the above-mentioned courses fulfill International Security Studies Field requirements, others allowed me to tailor the curriculum to my interests.  In Gender Theory and Praxis, I researched masculinities and private military and security companies.  In The Art and Science of Statecraft, with a group of fellow students, I developed an index to predict state instability in light of refugee flows.

The extensive course offerings, however, reflect only one aspect of the Fletcher experience.  The ISSP, IHS, and soon, the CSS also provide opportunities for experiential learning and interaction with seasoned practitioners.  For example, Fletcher is home to an annual crisis simulation, SIMULEX, where student teams, mentored by senior military officers, manage various conflicts that compete for their attention.  ISSP also hosts several military fellows from throughout the U.S. armed forces, and organizes regular luncheons on all things security.  Students themselves run several organizations such as Fletcher Students in Security, Fletcher Veterans, the New England chapter of Women In International Security, and the Fletcher Security Review.  And finally, Fletcher is the home for the World Peace Foundation, which conducts research and offers programming of interest to security studies students.

Additionally, students may work with professors as research or teaching assistants.  I had the pleasure of supporting the ISSP as a research assistant throughout my time at Fletcher, examining conflict escalation and coalition management in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific-Asia region.  I also got to serve as a teaching assistant for Professors Shultz and Pfaltzgraff’s GMAP course on Security Studies and Crisis Management — a terrific opportunity to interact with senior-level practitioners from all over the world — and Professor Pfaltzgraff’s International Relations: Theory and Practice.  Though I was lucky to find a job at Fletcher right after arriving here, many students eventually, for a semester or two, work as research or teaching assistants.  Whether the positions are formally announced or informally arranged, if you are interested in working at Fletcher, be pro-active about it and ask.  Even if nothing is available at the time, at least professors will remember you and might get back to you when an opportunity arises.

When it came time for me to decide which graduate school I wanted to attend, Fletcher’s diverse and flexible curriculum, the School’s location, and the strong sense of community ultimately led me to Medford.  I believe that these aspects are equally reflected in security studies at Fletcher, with its close relationship with other schools in the area, and the friendships that emerge between students, faculty, administrators, and military fellows.

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As I’ve often written before, work at Fletcher in the summer has its own rhythms.  The School remains quiet from late May to early August, but we’re not “un-busy.”  We all have a variety of projects going and that’s before we start the serious prepping that precedes the fall semester.  Meanwhile, because admissions folk tend not to take much vacation time from September to May, we’re all in and out of the office.  I’ve been taking Mondays off, which has made a mess of my usual blog patterns.

When I reported back to work yesterday, I heard the quiet hum of voices around the Hall of Flags and near some of the lecture rooms.  While I was enjoying a long weekend, students in the Global Master of Arts Program had arrived!  These GMAPers will be on campus for two weeks completing their yearlong program, including submitting their Capstone Projects.  Then, on July 31, a new GMAP class will arrive for their first two-week residency.

(For those unfamiliar with the GMAP format, students (who are mid-to-senior-level professionals) bracket their program year with two two-week sessions at Fletcher.  In between the sessions, their fall and spring semesters are delivered via internet-mediated instruction, punctuated by an additional two-week residency out in the world.  The photo to the right shows the program in Abu Dhabi in 2014.)

The truth is, GMAP students have little contact with students in Fletcher’s traditional residential programs.  But after they graduate, GMAP alumni forge the relationships with the larger community that characterize the Fletcher family experience.  They join alumni clubs, attend reunions, and have proven to be strong supporters of MALDs, MIBs, etc., creating the connection that didn’t exist as they pursued their degrees on different academic calendars.

For now, it’s nice to have some company in the building, and we’re happy to welcome GMAP!

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I shared some news items last Friday, but here’s one that I missed.  Tufts Collaborates is a program to foster collaboration among professors in different (and sometimes far-flung) areas of the university.  For the coming year, Fletcher faculty members will be involved in three of the projects that received seed grant funding.  The projects are:

EduNet: A Low Cost Communication Infrastructure to Improve Education in Developing Countries: Jenny Aker, Fletcher School, and Fahad Dogar, School of Engineering.

Effect of Climate Change on Household Drinking Water Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Avery Cohn, Fletcher School, and Amy Pickering, School of Engineering, with Graham Jeffries from Fletcher (Professor Cohn’s research assistant).

Challenging Conceptions: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation: Kimberly Theidon, Fletcher School, with Dyan Mazurana, Fletcher School and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

 

It’s June 30!  Time to wrap up some news, in advance of the long July 4 weekend.  (Long for us, that is.  The Admissions Office will be closed on Monday and Tuesday for the Independence Day holiday.)  In no particular order, here’s a mishmash of stories that caught my eye in the last however many weeks.

Professor Michael Klein is working with colleagues on a website called EconofactHere’s a story about it.

Daily Boston tech world newsletter BostInno highlighted a start-up with Fletcher origins, Blue Water Metrics, which emerged from the Tufts 100K competition in 2016.

Here’s a brief video introducing a compelling story about Arslan Muradi, a 2017 Fletcher graduate.

Aditya Sarkar, a 2016 graduate, worked this past year for the World Peace Foundation.  Two multiple-authored articles on the challenges faced by cities grew out of his research.  This one and this one.

A Fletcher graduate is one of the co-founders of Indivisible.

Dean Stavridis has hit the road with his newest book, Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans.  You can hear his interview with NPR’s Morning Edition on the player below.  (Prefer a transcript?  Here you go.)

 

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.

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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.

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Returning to the subject of pre-Fletcher reading, today I’m simply going to share a link to the Gender@Fletcher blog.  Gender@Fletcher is student run and reflects the strong interest in gender issues among Fletcher students.  Check it out!

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I was out of the office yesterday, having made a quick trip to New York on the weekend, which mostly entailed driving both ways in a drenching rainstorm.  When I returned to campus today, the sun was back and everything was in full spring bloom.  And not just the trees and flowers — the graduation tents are springing up, too.  As of this morning, the Fletcher tents are yet to emerge, but others are in place all over campus.  The early forecast is for a beautiful spring Commencement day on Sunday.

Between now and the weekend’s Commencement ceremonies, both graduating and continuing students are participating in the time-honored student-organized tradition of Dis-Orientation, the natural counter-balance to August’s official Orientation week.  Frankly, Dis-O is a lot more fun.  Yesterday alone, activities included paintballing, a FIFA (video game) tournament, a walking tour of Medford (which has a surprisingly rich history), a cricket match (first-year students vs. second years), a trivia competition, karaoke, and (my favorite of all the options) dinner at a Cambodian restaurant and visit to Revere Beach.  (My love of Revere and that particular restaurant has been well chronicled in the blog over the years.)

Naturally, with everyone off doing such fun stuff, it’s pretty quiet around here.  We’ll appreciate the quiet for a few weeks — it’s great for completing projects.  As the summer runs on, though, we’ll begin to look forward to the start of a new semester.  But that’s way in the future.  Now we’re enjoying the occasional encounter with a graduating student and I’m planning to catch up with more of them at graduation.

Since the Fletcher tents aren’t up yet, I thought I’d share a photo from this morning of the Tufts University president’s house — right across the street from here.  There are two tents directly behind it, and blue skies and flowering trees around it.

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