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This has been a nice week, but not a productive week for blogging.  One thing or another got in the way of my pulling together some meaningful posts.  And now it’s that happy day in the fall semester when the MALD/MA Admissions Committee will first meet, leaving me no time for a lengthy post today, either.  I have high hopes for next week.

Today’s Admissions Committee meeting will bring the students, professors, and staff reading MALD and MA applications together for the first time.  All the students have read a nice batch of applications, but hearing the perspectives of others will broaden their perspectives.  Same for the faculty members.

In case you’re wondering, the MIB and LLM committees meet separately and, I think, may even have met already this week.

On the very same day when we will take the earliest steps toward admitting the incoming class for September, we’ll be saying farewell to the Januarians who started at Fletcher in January 2016.  Though they still have finals in front of them, a ceremony this afternoon will recognize this tight-knit class.  There are some active members of the community in this group, and we’ll miss them.  Here they are, with the dean.

Now I’m going to grab the coffee we’ll serve to keep everyone perky during the four-hour discussion, and I’ll head over to the meeting.  Committee meetings are an absolute highlight of my work, and I’m looking forward to jumping right in.

 

Every so often I see an interesting piece of news and stick the link into a draft post, like storing it in my personal blog cabinet.  These tidbits have been building up for long enough, and today I’m going to share them, for those who missed the news as it happened (and appeared in other Fletcher media).

The Fletcher PhD program held a forum in September at which students presented their research to the community.

Several current students in our Global Master of Arts Program are graduates of the Tufts undergraduate program.  Of course, Double Jumbos have long been members of the MALD and MIB communities, but it’s nice to see these senior-level folks returning for GMAP, too.

Professor Dan Drezner has a new book.

Fletcher’s Murrow Center has named Senior Fellows.

After an international career, Abi Williams, F86, F87, has returned to Tufts to become director of the Institute for Global Leadership and Professor of the Practice of International Politics at Fletcher.

Two Fletcher graduates had books on the National Book Awards Long list.

“Since 2005, Kimberly Theidon, the Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies at Fletcher, has consulted with the government of Colombia on transitional justice and reconciliation, and is now focusing on the mass demobilization and reintegration of former FARC fighters.”

In a related story, the Henry J. Leir Institute for Human Security was formally established in September.

The Feinstein International Center at Tufts has a new director.

“In a typical day, how many distinct customer experiences do you think you have?”  A Fletcher graduate explains that “companies fail when they design products without considering the human beings who will use them.”

“With enough support, reformers can, in fact, get things done in Ukraine,” and Fletcher alumni are contributing to those reform efforts.

We learned from the Maritime Studies program that a major student research project last year of the LLM program and the Maritime Studies Program — with Professor John Burgess serving as the overall coordinator — has resulted in the “Law of the Sea: A Policy Primer,” covering “topics such as Freedom of Navigation, Maritime Security, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the South China Sea.  It is intended for anyone needing an accessible briefing on a law of the sea issue, with a special focus on policymakers.”

Professor Emeritus William Moomaw, published “Science Diplomacy: Hard-Won Lessons” in Science & Diplomacy.  The piece follows Professor Moomaw’s career trajectory from PhD student to science diplomat.

And two articles on Russia (a topic that is “trending” here at Fletcher):

Susan Landau, Bridge Professor at Fletcher and the School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, wrote an article in Foreign Policy, entitled “Russia’s Hybrid Warriors Got the White House.  Now They’re Coming for America’s Town Halls.” 

And newly-arrived Professor Chris Miller, contributed the article “Russia: Remembering a Soviet Ideal, Purged of Revolutionary Ideas” in Eurasianet.org.

 

I never post as much as I should about the fabulous work done by the student editors of The Fletcher Forum.  Partly compensating for my recent lapse, I’m going to share the list of articles I recently received in a Forum newsletter.  Note that, “Founded in 1975, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs is the student-managed foreign policy journal at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  The publication provides a broad, interdisciplinary platform for analysis of legal, political, economic, environmental, and diplomatic issues in international affairs.”  And you can follow the Forum on Twitter.  Happy reading!

The highlights:

An Interview with Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Aizaz Chaudhry, F90, talks about the challenges of Pakistan’s engagement with the U.S. and Afghanistan and his time at Fletcher when the Berlin Wall was coming down.

Debunking Three Myths about Libya’s Civil War

Libya expert Jalel Harchaoui discusses some common misconceptions about Libya’s civil war.

An Interview with Scott McDonald, CEO, Oliver Wyman

Read as Scott McDonald, CEO of Oliver Wyman, talks about when it’s appropriate for businesses to take up a political mantle.

State Department Reorganization: Little to Show, Much to Worry About

“Staff reductions at the State Dept appear to be connected to the White House dictated goal of a 30% budget cut, but no specific logic has been described and the number appears disconnected from the unfinished reform effort.”  Ronald E. Neumann expounds here.

An Interview with Paul Lambert: Understanding the Importance of Religious Literacy

What does religious literacy mean in a business context?  Fletcher alum Paul Lambert helps us unpack this complex topic and understand the importance of religious literacy.

Additional articles:

Challenges in Global Leadership by Adm. James Stavridis, USN (ret.)

Trump’s Misunderstanding of the U.S.-Japan Alliance by Pamela Kennedy

Honing a BS Detector, Fostering Bilateral Ties: The Life of an Honorary Consul General, Krista Bard

Colombia’s Peace Deal: Rocky Road to Implementation as Targeted Killings Persist by Laura Cuéllar

Blockchain For Government by Jennifer Brody

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With it’s completely unpronounceable acronym, the Annual Faculty and Staff Wait on You Dinner (AFSWOYD) is a student-organized event to raise funds for a non-profit organization of the students’ choosing.  Members of the faculty and staff get all aproned up and serve a catered dinner to attending students, who then have the opportunity to bid on a variety of items — both things and experiences.  In addition to a couple of servers, the Admissions Office offered up use of our interview rooms, with treats provided by the staff, during final exam week.  (Quiet study space always has value.)

The event raised more than $3,700, with the proceeds going to local organization Project Bread, which supports hunger-fighting programs throughout Massachusetts.

Liz shared a photo of her table.  She’s standing at the back on the left, and you can see student blogger, Mariya, at the front.

 

I now know that I’ll be sharing four reports from the Arctic Circle Assembly.  Today, adding to the post from Ana last week, we’ll hear from two more students, Katrina (who is one of the active duty military officers at Fletcher) and Colin (who is one of the pioneers in Fletcher’s new Master of Transatlantic Affairs program).

Katrina

Attending the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland sounded like a fantastic opportunity but one that required some prodding before I committed.  I wanted to attend and participate in every single thing the Fletcher community offered, and the Arctic Circle was no exception.  However, as a brand spanking new first-year MALD student, I was wary of missing classes since I was still (re)acclimating to the schedule and demands of academic life.  Matt Merighi, the Assistant Director for Maritime Affairs, quickly convinced me that this conference is the type of quintessential enrichment that Fletcher students must experience.  So, I prepared myself for what would become one of the best experiences I have had at Fletcher thus far.

The Arctic Circle is “the largest network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic” with participants including governments, organizations, academic bodies, and others from all over the world.  The Assembly gathers annually during three days in October.  Participants packed the sessions covering the range of issues facing the Arctic.  As a naval officer, I was keen on attending the sessions that dealt with maritime security.  One of the first sessions I attended was “Security and Insecurity in the Arctic and High North: Current Trends and Future Issues,” and I was incredibly impressed with the arguments posited.  I found the geographic and national lenses through which panel members framed the issues concerning the Arctic thought-provoking, and I kept them in mind as I listened to other speakers.  It was a humbling reminder that nations are affected by problems in different ways, and future solutions must account for all parties facing the challenges of maritime security, technology, trade, or any of the other issue in the Arctic.

Because about 2,000 people were in attendance from 50 countries, I was bound to meet fascinating people.  During the opening reception, a gentleman next to me gleefully gave me a Maine lapel pin after I told him I was at Fletcher.  When I asked where he was from, he casually replied: “I’m the governor of Maine.”  I never thought I’d meet the governor of Maine, much less 2,500 miles from home!  I also had the opportunity to engage with the Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Deputy Chief of Operations of the Icelandic Coast Guard.  Listening to them discuss the most pressing problems they see in the Arctic, and the steps they are taking to address, them caused me to reconsider how I look at maritime security issues, not only in the Arctic but around the globe.  I conversed with academics, fellow students, government officials, and organizational representatives, and I walked away from each conversation having learned something new.

My time in Iceland was not all serious, however.  During the precious few hours I was left on my own, I wandered the streets of downtown Reykjavik and visited key sites and museums.  I went to the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church, where I took in the beauty of the city from 244 feet in the air.  I visited their Culture House, which featured a thought-provoking exhibition that explored how outsiders and Icelanders look at history and society in Iceland.  Yet, the highlight was visiting the world-famous Blue Lagoon, where I soaked in an outdoor hot spring and watched the sunrise while wearing a silica mud mask plastered to my face.  This was unquestionably a once in a lifetime experience.

One of the most important things I learned during the Assembly is that the Arctic embodies a new frontier of international collaboration.  In an increasingly polarized world, I am encouraged that the Arctic engenders discourse and a collective action among countries that would not typically interact otherwise.  It turns out Matt was right — this was an incredible experience.  I look forward to sharing the spirit of Arctic Circle with the Fletcher family and hopefully convincing them that Arctic Circle Assembly is a must-add to their list of Fletcher memories!

Colin

I have long been fascinated with the Arctic, and my time at Fletcher has only further cemented this interest.  As a student in the brand-new Master of Transatlantic Affairs program, focusing primarily on international security and the EU, the region represents a fascinating case study.  Will new opportunities in shipping and resource extraction lead to tense geopolitical competition, or to peaceful and cooperative development?  Thanks to the generosity of the Maritime Studies program, I was granted a chance to travel to the Arctic Circle Assembly, the preeminent conference for Arctic affairs, to find out.

My interest in the region began as a personal one, but was expanded through various research projects, including an op-ed I published while working at The Stimson Center, a think-tank in Washington, D.C.  As the article was about the possibility of militarization in the region, I kept a close eye out for Arctic conference events that discussed similar issues.  Fortunately, I was able to attend a talk by a researcher from the University of Saskatchewan who laid out the arguments for demilitarization in the region, arguing that, for the most part, countries have compatible interests in the Arctic, and that military investments should be seen as a misallocation of funding.  Instead, she urged Arctic nations to focus on confidence-building measures, particularly by creating a political forum to discuss security and demilitarization.  Our discussion with Admiral Charles Michel about the Coast Guard’s surprisingly diplomatic role in the region was another interesting perspective on Arctic security cooperation.

My interest in the EU was well-represented as well.  In a presentation on EU Arctic policy, I learned how Europe is approaching the region, particularly through the EU Arctic Cluster, a network established to link policy makers with other groups like indigenous peoples, civil society, and business representatives.  I was also fascinated to learn about the EU-Polar Net, the European Union’s consortium of science experts, which coordinates numerous European research projects.  It was impressive to see the degree to which the EU was already cooperating in the region.

True to Fletcher style, I also did my best to take an interdisciplinary approach to the conference, rather than simply focusing on my core academic interests.  Easily my favorite event was the Arctic Innovation Lab, where students from Fletcher, the Harvard Kennedy School and Reykjavik University presented their ideas for concrete improvements to the region, from transshipping ports to indigenous-run tourist businesses to an Arctic investment index.  I was very impressed by my fellow students’ ingenuity.  At another event, a professor from the Arctic University of Norway opened my eyes to the human security element of Arctic affairs by arguing that the common suicide crisis within Nordic countries actually constitutes a security issue in itself.  Another panel discussed environmental hazards in the region, in particular a fascinating presentation about the dangers of a particularly toxic fuel called unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine, which was recently used in a Russian satellite launch despite its dangers to human health and the environment being very well known.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see the variety of delegations from non-Arctic countries, especially Asian countries like China, India and Japan, and attended a number of events where they laid out their interests in the region.  As a student who primarily focuses on transatlantic affairs, it was a tremendous opportunity to be exposed to perspectives from other parts of the world.

The conference was not only fascinating from an academic perspective, however.  It also provided the opportunity to get closer to my fellow Fletcher students, and make some new connections as well.  Most memorably, two other Fletcherites and I were fortunate enough to befriend a student from the University of Reykjavik, who gave us a ride away from the light pollution of the city to see the awe-inspiring northern lights.  It was just one of several unforgettable experiences I had while attending the Arctic Circle Assembly.

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One of the perks of working (or studying) on a university campus is that there’s all sorts of interesting stuff going on that may have nothing to do with my day-to-day.  An example: One afternoon last week, I walked out of the office and five minutes later was standing in Tisch Library (the main Tufts library), checking out an exhibit of the photography of Robert Frank.  This “pop-up” exhibit, with books, videos, and photographs spread throughout the main level (including in the Tower Café), has gained quite a bit of attention, and was a great way to connect with Frank’s work.  (Apologies for my less-than-artistic photos, taken on my phone.)

From Tisch, I wandered further down the hill and, another five minutes later, I was at the Aidekman Arts Center, where I wanted to check out one exhibit, but ended up visiting four.

The first, which awaited visitors barely inside the door, displayed photographs from the Philippines by one of the university’s staff photographers, Alonso Nichols.  (Nice overlap between art and international concerns.)

The second was a small exhibit of photographs of South Asia connected with a Kashmir Conference.  This photo was taken by Professor Ayesha Jalal.

Next up was a display on either side of a hallway, titled “Pilgrim Father/illegal son,” comparing the experiences of William Bradford, who traveled to what is now Massachusetts aboard the Mayflower, and a recent Chinese immigrant, who like Bradford, arrived without official documentation.  The artist, Wen-Ti Tsen, spent time in residence at Tufts this semester, but the exhibit has traveled.  Here is Wen-Ti Tsen’s description of his work.

Finally, I reached my original destination, Aidekman’s main gallery, where the featured display was a full-room mural by Chinese artist Yuan Yunsheng.  Yuan spent time at Tufts in the 1980s and painted a mural within Wessell Library.  The larger Tisch library was built around Wessell, but the original wall on which the mural was displayed doesn’t exist anymore.  Neither, it turns out, does nearly any other Tufts wall large enough to display the mural.  Segments of the mural have been exhibited in recent years, but the remainder has been kept in storage.  For the new exhibit at Aidekman, the mural was displayed in full on the only wall at the University large enough for it.  Curiously, it has a door cut into it, representing where there would have been a door in its original Wessell Library site.  The articles I’ve linked to have some photos, but here’s a piece of what I saw.

I’m going to try to get back to Aidekman for another visit to the mural.  By the time I had visited Tisch and the other three Aidekman exhibits, I wasn’t left with much time, but I’m glad to be able to give you a sense of the vibrant campus arts scene.  And if you happen to want to know more about Yuan Yunsheng, here’s a video from the Tufts Digital Design Studio.

 

Following their return from the Arctic Circle Assembly last month, the Fletcher Maritime Program encouraged students to share their observations in a blog post, and then asked me whether I would be interested in including the posts in the Admissions Blog.  Of course I would!  I’m not sure how many I’ll receive, but today Ana Nichols Orians, a first-year MALD student, writes of her experience in Iceland.

“South Pole at Top of Earth” by Joaquin Torres García.

When I was in college, Latin American writer and activist Eduardo Galeano’s salient prose guided much of my thinking.  One message stood out: we must question the traditional narratives reinforcing colonial dynamics in global politics.  In his book, Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking Glass World, Galeano presents Joaquín Torres García’s map of an upside down Latin America.  From this viewpoint, the global south is emphasized by its proximity to the sun and the moon.

Prior to the Arctic Circle Assembly, Joaquin Garcia’s map was the closest I had ever gotten to thinking about the poles.  I remain dedicated to the idea of focusing on Latin America, especially in terms of reaching my professional goals of being a negotiator on topics pertaining to food, climate, and sustainability.  Attending the Arctic Circle Assembly might not seem like the most logical step towards professional realization.  Yet attending offered the possibility of discovering a more dynamic view of the Arctic while simultaneously learning from diverse actors considering global consequences of climate change and negotiating on policies for global cooperation.  And so, I went to Reykjavik, Iceland, to attend the conference with my internal global map reversed, as per Galeano’s guidance.

The Arctic Circle Assembly attracts some of the most important actors across the globe.  Within the first few hours in Iceland, I witnessed plenary discussions with Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Peter Seligmann, Chairman of the Board of Conservation International, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and H. E. Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands, and I even introduced myself to and shook hands with H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, chairman of the Arctic Circle and former president of Iceland.  Over three days, religious leaders, scientists, artists, and policy makers led attendees through discussions about their priorities and opened the floor for creative responses.  It was exhilarating and, at times, intimidating.  Luckily, my role as moderator for the Arctic Innovation Lab gave me purpose.

Working with Ryan Uljua, second-year MALD candidate, on his pitch, “An Arctic Investment Index,” afforded me the opportunity to dive deeper into the idea of the Arctic as a new economic frontier.  Ryan presented a new type of investment index designed for the small-scale investor.  The roundtable conversation after his presentation incorporated the voices of students, bankers, and artists, and brought to light the importance of finding balance through corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  Vanessa DiDomenico, another first-year MALD student, pitched the idea “Navigating Vessels Through Compliance” at the lab and discussed the importance of determining safe operations with risk mitigation strategies for the emerging sea-lanes in the Arctic.  The lab provided valuable insight into a “young” perspective of how to manage the region in a sustainable and socially equitable way.

Inherent in the discussions at the Assembly was the question: whose interests will be at the table if the ice melts?  The Arctic narrative I was accustomed to proved limited.  Once again, it was a map that made my preconceived notions evident.  Looking at the map of the Arctic Ocean, one can see how the melting ice accentuates the role of the northern coastlines and the potential for additional sea-lanes, fundamentally changing the scale of global power relations.  Not all stakeholders value the Arctic for the same reason, or for that matter, have the same desired outcome for the region.  Depending on whom you ask, the Arctic provides grossly different services: biodiversity, opportunities for economic investment, pristine environments and glaciers, potential shipping routes, untapped energy, political power, and more.  As with the opening of any frontier, many actors are ready to exploit these resources for their own agenda.

A sustainable future may be a larger conversation than a single map can represent, but it is one that the Arctic Circle Assembly has been developing since its first meeting in 2013.  The future of the Arctic is a global issue and those with the closest proximity and with the most money should not be the sole decision makers.  Understanding the nuances of the political power and the diversity of interest regarding climate change will be fundamental to defining a strategic and sustainable approach to the Arctic.

 

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You may already have heard that Michael Dobbs, probably best known to blog readers as the author of House of Cards — but also a politician, political commentator, and the holder of three Fletcher degrees (including the PhD, F73, F75, F77) — is in residence at Fletcher this month as Visiting Professor of Contemporary Politics.

While here, Lord Dobbs has already given a book talk, met students and faculty for coffee, and participated in a lunchtime discussion, and he is leading a three-session workshop on political leadership.  (You can read more about the residency at The Boston Globe.)  But the event most relevant for those who are not on campus will take place today (Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. EDT (UTC-4)).  This afternoon you can tune in (via the Fletcher Facebook page) for a “Fletcher Reads the Newspaper” discussion/debate on “Nationalism vs. Globalism: Will Brexit be the Ultimate Litmus Test?” with Lord Dobbs and Professor Amar Bhide sharing their opinions on the topic, moderated by Senior Associate Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti.

Please join us and watch the debate sparks fly!

 

Easily missed among all the full-semester classes at Fletcher are a select group of half-semester modules.  The second half of the fall semester started last week, and students were offered the chance to register for modules that will run from now through the last day of classes.  This short list of five classes brings into clear focus the breadth of the Fletcher curriculum.  From Transitional Justice to Emerging Pathogens, a multidisciplinary approach to international affairs means there will be students for whom each class is the perfect addition to their personal curricula.

Here are the late-semester offerings:

Adapative Leadership and Managerial Communication, Professor Mihir Mankad
Adaptive Leadership and Managerial Communication is a new module course that is intended to sharpen your skills around practical, impactful, and often challenging verbal communication across a range of adaptive leadership and managerial scenarios.  Through your experiences, you will further develop your public speaking and presentation skills, and better understand the concept of adaptive leadership and its communication.  You will also get exposure to both personal and organizational communication case scenarios, including crisis communication.  As with Arts of Communication, this module course should also further your journey to becoming a more persuasive, motivating and effective public speaker and media communicator.

Transitional Justice, Professor Cecile Aptel
This seminar considers the range of processes and mechanisms available to ensure accountability for large-scale human rights violations and achieve reconciliation, including criminal justice, truth and reconciliation commissions, and mechanisms, which incorporate local custom, such as gacaca in Rwanda.  It reviews some of the philosophical, moral and political considerations pertaining to the challenge of reconciliation in these contexts.  This course is taught remotely by the professor.

International Arbitration, Professor Jeswald Salacuse   
This half-credit module explores the nature and application of international arbitration as a method of dispute resolution in international economic and political relations.  A widely used but not generally well-known process, international arbitration is basically a method of dispute settlement that involves the referral of the dispute to an impartial tribunal or panel for a binding decision according to agreed-upon norms, often on the basis of international law. It is applicable to three general types of disputes: 1) disputes between states (interstate arbitration); 2) disputes between states and private parties (e.g. investor-state arbitration); and 3) disputes arising out of international business transactions either between private parties or between private parties and governmental entities (e.g. international commercial arbitration).  This module will examine all three types of international arbitration and will consider their legal basis, their methods of operation, and their potential advantages and disadvantages both for the disputants and the wider international community.  A student’s final evaluation in the course will be based on a paper of not more than 3000 words (65%) and participation in class sessions (35%).  The course is relevant to the academic interests of LLM students, because of its legal component, MIB students, because of arbitration’s key role in the settlement of international business disputes, and MALD students with interests in international conflict resolution.  The course is listed in the fields of Public International Law and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and has no required prerequisites.

Political Economy of the Global Arms Trade, Professor Sam Perlo-Freeman   
The arms industry and trade sits at the intersection of global economics, security, and politics. Access to armaments, whether domestically produced or imported, is necessary for states and armed groups to develop military capability; thus the arms industry and trade is a key instrument of state policy and international relations.  At the same time, the arms industry is an economic enterprise, in most countries a private, profit-seeking one. It depends on general national economic, industrial and technological development, and is often seen—debatably—as an important source of industrialization, jobs, and trade.  But military spending, including arms acquisition, carries an opportunity cost, and how states choose to allocate limited resources between civilian and military priorities is the outcome of numerous economic, political and security factors.

Health, Human Security and Emerging Pathogens, Professor Nahid Bhadelia   
With increasing globalization of trade, travel and terrorism, public and individual human health have become topics of global concern, involving sovereign nations, international organizations and the scientific community.  Threats from emerging infectious diseases outbreaks exemplify this trend.  In contrast to the traditional idea of national security, the field of human security focuses on the individual, rather than state, as the nexus of analysis and takes a multidisciplinary approach through which to analyze the challenges related to community, national and global response to emerging infectious diseases epidemics. This course will start by examining human security literature and practice as it applies to infectious diseases threats.  It will examine factors leading to increasing frequency of outbreaks due to novel pathogens, such as climate change and environmental degradation, and the concept of One Health.  It will then look at the intersection between scientific research and related ethical issues, disease surveillance and global biosecurity issues.  Further, the course will examine the historical basis for International Health Regulations and other frameworks for modern global health governance as they apply to outbreaks.  Lastly, the class will utilize case studies to examine how outbreak preparedness and response have been managed during recent epidemics such as SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola and Zika.  This course is meant to foster interdisciplinary perspectives by bringing together practitioners from international law, human development, public health and clinical care.

 

Some eagle-eyed Jeopardy fans in the Fletcher community spotted this question as they watched the show recently.  The answer (in the form of a question), of course, is “What is Tufts University?”

 

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