Commencement!

And just like that, members of the Fletcher Class of 2019 are officially alumni! It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were busy convoking the academic year, and here we are already recapping the season’s most anticipated finale outside of Westeros. On the weather side of things, there’s mixed news to report. For Saturday’s Class Day festivities, we lucked into probably the nicest day we’ve had all spring. Sunny, warm, and just generally the kind of day that makes you want to hang around outside. For Commencement itself on Sunday, less so. While the big tent provides good protection from the vicissitudes of the sky, the ground makes itself felt in a downpour, too, and there are likely a few muddy pairs of Maglis and Manolos due for a cleaning this week.

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GIS Poster Expo

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are amazingly powerful tools. Take a few moments to study a well-designed map, and you’ll be amazed by the amount of information it can simultaneously convey. Way back in my own Fletcher student days, I enrolled in the inaugural offering of GIS for International Applications at Fletcher, mostly out of curiosity and the desire to pick up the rudiments of a new skill set. While I haven’t gone on to do further GIS work, and while modest would be a charitable description of the mapping project I produced in that course, it did leave me with an understanding for and appreciation of the explanatory power of contemporary mapping technology and technique.

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Dean Stavridis’ portrait is unveiled

The official portrait of former Fletcher Dean James Stavridis was recently unveiled in a ceremony here, which the Dean himself attended. While I wasn’t able to make it to the event, I did get a chance to check out the latest addition to the Ginn Library Reading Room recently, before it gets hung to join other Deans past. It’s a good likeness, as we’d of course expect an official portrait to be. Having had the opportunity to get to know Dean Stavridis relatively well, I immediately noticed a few details and artistic choices that capture his particular bearing and personality.

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Overheard in the Hall of Flags…

A recommendation I often give prospective students during their visits to Fletcher is to take some time just to hang out in the Hall of Flags between visiting classes, chatting with students over coffee, meeting with faculty members, and talking to us. Regular blog readers will know I’m big on the idea of “fit” between school and student, and fit can sometimes be a function of intangible qualities of a place that might not come through as much in more formal or structured meetings. Sometimes a place can just feel more right to you than another. I imagine the Hall of Flags to be a good barometer of the general feeling and energy level of Fletcher at any given time, and my hope is always that a casual stretch of downtime there will show prospective students that Fletcher is where they want to be.

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Disorientation Week brings balance to the force

As we all know, everything in the world has its opposite: every Superman has his Bizarro, Mr. Glass his David Dunn, Pepsi its Crystal Pepsi. Fletcher is no different, and it’s around this time each year that rumblings of Disorientation Week (“Dis-O,” in the parlance of our times) start hitting the internal streams. Dis-O acts as a graduating-student counterweight to the beginning of students’ time at Fletcher, Flexo to orientation week’s Bender. Taking place after finals but before commencement, Dis-O is a communal release valve for graduating students to spend a bit of time together doing anything other than reading, writing papers, and meeting with study groups.

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos returns to Fletcher

Fletcher is one of the few places where being able to drop in casually on a conversation with a Nobel Peace Prize laureate seems like a fairly normal Monday afternoon activity. Still, it felt like a special treat yesterday to catch the visit to Fletcher by former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Santos was Colombia’s President from 2010 to 2018, and is best known globally for his stewardship of peace negotiations with the FARC rebels that led to the end of the country’s 52-year conflict (and which earned him the 2016 Nobel). The event was also a special homecoming: President Santos is a long time member of the Fletcher community, having spent time here as a Fulbright visiting fellow in 1981.

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Fletcher welcomes new Dean Rachel Kyte

It’s only Wednesday, but it’s already been an exciting week at Fletcher! This past Monday saw a beautiful confluence of events: the 160+ visitors here for admitted student Open House were treated to the news of the appointment of Rachel Kyte as the next Dean of The Fletcher School. Below is the announcement to the Tufts community from President Anthony Monaco and Provost Deborah Kochevar. You can also read the press release and view and introductory video on the Fletcher website. A hearty welcome to Dean Kyte!

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Spring social list fun

It’s time for our semesterly check-in on the Social List, that teeming, largely-unfiltered, ongoing omnibus conversation the Fletcher student community has with itself over email. This is a good time of year to appreciate the Social List in its full glory: there are still a variety events taking place over the next few weeks before the run-up to finals and commencement, but there’s also already a smattering of end-of-year transactions (lots of graduation robes and household items for sale), as well as occasional evidence of a number of students getting a bit punchy as the academic year hits its home stretch.

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The value of a little Perspective

Something I’ve always loved about Fletcher’s physical space is how it lends itself to interesting little corners and curios. Our building is a bit weird, in that’s it’s actually three buildings, but also one building. Fletcher rooms are all located in the Goddard, Cabot, or Mugar buildings, some of which years ago were discrete structures, but which are now connected into a single agglomeration, more artfully in some places than in others. I’m grateful to have an office with a window, for example, but rather than looking outside I get to peer down a floor to the reading room in Ginn Library, surely freaking out the occasional student who looks up to see me spacing out and emptily staring down at them. Other windows in the school give a view between floors of the adjacent building, or into the middle of a stairwell, and there are at least a few study spaces tucked underneath staircases. The effect in some places is a bit Hogwarts-ish, making it no surprise that the stately main reading room in the library is known informally as the Harry Potter Room.

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