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Though (long ago), I had regular contact with the office of the Tufts University chaplain, I was definitely due for an update on the chaplaincy’s work on campus.  Reverend Greg McGonigle recently provided just such a refresher in a presentation to the Fletcher staff.  We learned (among other things) that Fletcher students are frequently involved in the chaplaincy’s programs and religious services, which cover all the traditional religious traditions and then go far beyond.  One project, in particular, is worth highlighting today.

The chaplaincy is co-sponsoring the University’s Common Reading Program, this year featuring Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation.  In an email, Reverend McGonigle invites members of the community “to read the book and join in the conversation on this year’s theme of religious and philosophical pluralism and interfaith cooperation.”  And Tufts President Anthony Monaco, in his letter to incoming undergraduates, wrote, that Eboo Patel’s “personal story explores important questions of community, compassion, and commitment and resonates strongly with our core values of active citizenship and global engagement.”  The connection to Fletcher students’ interests couldn’t be closer.

I’d like to do my part and encourage incoming (and returning) students to join incoming undergraduates and the broader community in reading (or, at least, becoming familiar with) Acts of Faith.  By doing so, you’ll be best able to appreciate the on-campus talk by author Eboo Patel on Monday, September 21.

Tufts has a good record of selecting interesting, vital, and timely books for this project.  Last summer’s The Other Wes Moore turned out to be an important primer for unfortunate events in the U.S. during the year.  I’ll be adding Acts of Faith to my reading for the remainder of the summer, and I hope many Fletcher students will accept Reverend McGonigle’s invitation to do so, too.

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Our most recent “Tufts Now” summary included links to two stories about Fletcher.

First, a report on Patrick Meier, F12 — a graduate of the PhD program (who spent one year on the Admissions Committee!) — regarding his work on crisis mapping and his new book on the topic.

And next, a story about the Digital Evolution Index, developed by Bhaskar Chakravorti and the Institute for Business in the Global Context team.

Interesting that the work done both by Patrick and by the IBGC team have such a strong technology component.  If you were to look back 15 years, I don’t think you would see the equivalent influence of technology on Fletcher’s coursework and research, but now it seems inevitable.

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I reached out recently to Carolyn McMahon (Class of 2012 graduate and current Fletcher staff member), who is the program officer for the Leadership Program for Financial Inclusion run by the Institute for Business in the Global Context.  I was unfamiliar with the details of the program, one of many that takes place around the usual degree programs, so let’s let Carolyn tell us about it.

Central Bankers.  Financial regulators.  Quick, what comes to mind?  Navy blue suits?  Entrenched bureaucracies?

How about: Inventive Thinkers.  Creative collaborators.  Alternative Pedagogy.  Peer-learning.  Challenging Assumptions.

150427_16707_FLPFI083.jpgWhen we tell people about The Fletcher Leadership Program for Financial Inclusion (FLPFI), it’s tough to counter these initial impressions.  Still, what we’re doing with this nine-month fellowship couldn’t be farther from a stodgy executive training.

FLPFI recruits and trains promising mid-career financial regulators from emerging and frontier market economies to bring fresh innovative thinking to financial policies and regulation.  Recruits are not only stewards of their countries’ financial stability but have professional mandates to create and promote safe and useful services for citizens at every income level, particularly the poor.

True to Fletcher’s ethos, the FLPFI experience is participatory and peer-based, with a commitment to honing practical skills and ensuring real world impact.

An innovative nine-month fellowship:

Since welcoming our first Fellow cohort in 2011, we’ve hosted 55 Fellows from 32 countries.  Their financial inclusion agendas are as diverse as their origins.  Fellows tackle challenges like SME (small- and medium-sized enterprise) financing, mobile services and payments, insurance, and agent banking.  On campus, Fellows meet Fletcher students and faculty, forging connections that have led to collaborations like summer internships and research opportunities.

Fellows of FLPFI spend nine months with a team of Fletcher faculty and industry experts.  They bring national expertise in regulation and new ideas for addressing financial inequities in their home countries.  Through online video modules, discussions, and in-person residencies, Fellows hone their policy ideas.  They learn best practices in financial inclusion policymaking from lecturers, Fletcher faculty, and each other, through highly participatory, charette-style sessions.  They learn methods of problem analysis and solution generation.  They test old assumptions and develop new theories.  They learn how to deploy media and public speaking to spread their ideas.  They inform and challenge each other.

Small program, big impact

150427_16707_FLPFI204.jpgFellows return home to implement their policies, armed with sharpened professional skills and fresh analytical perspectives.  They galvanize the support of high-level bureaucrats, and often partners such as CGAP, GSMA, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  FLPFI Fellows join a special part of the Fletcher community, creating a network of support, friendship and change makers within financial regulation.  Alumni What’sApp groups are aflutter even after graduation: on Monday, a Central Banker is posting a photo of his newborn; Tuesday, another is challenging conventional wisdom of small dollar accounts; and that afternoon a group is planning a rendezvous at the next international conference in Brazil.  The friendships built at FLPFI, like so many at Fletcher, transcend time zones and geographies.

Despite the program’s youth (the fourth cohort will graduate in September), several successful national policy victories have already been achieved by the Fellows.  Beyond regulatory change, program alumni benefit from continued support and elevated professional opportunities.  Many are invited to speak in international fora, take on leadership roles in regional organizations, and contribute to the global financial inclusion policy agenda.

Still, the program’s ability to forge lasting relationships across continents is a testament to its success and great potential.  FLPFI has succeeded in creating a microcosm of the Fletcher master’s experience for a group of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of their countrymen through more inclusive financial regulation.  Many great things lay ahead as the program enters its fifth year.

Inclusion fellows

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Every day is quiet at Fletcher in the summer.  Until suddenly, there are dozens of people around for the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict.  The program just got going yesterday, with an Introduction to Civil Resistance.  (The website includes a reading list for those who want to know more).   You can already sense the richness of the discussion via Twitter.

The Fletcher Summer Institute is organized jointly by Fletcher and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.  And it appears from the program’s history, that this would be the tenth annual Summer Institute.


Though nearly everyone studying at Fletcher is enrolled in a degree program, the School also offers some special programs on a regular or occasional basis.  An annual example is the Tavitian Scholarship program.  A recent article in the Fletcher alumni magazine and on the Tufts Now site tells us:

Now in its 16th year, the program, funded by the Tavitian Foundation, has paid for more than 250 early and mid-career Armenian officials to study at the Fletcher School. Not just for diplomats anymore, the program offers executive training to a range of Armenian government officials and central bankers. The latest scholars arrived on campus in January.

Read more about the program’s origins, faculty, and graduates.


If you missed them, or even if you didn’t, you might be interested in updates on two past Fletcher conferences, both organized by the Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC).

The first — Inclusion, Inc. — took place this past April.  The Inclusion, Inc. team recently told the community:

Thank you for making Inclusion, Inc. a success!  The Forum brought together a diverse group of speakers and attendees, making for an exciting and engaging two days of discussion on sustainable and inclusive business activities (SIBA) in practice.

Be sure to visit the photo gallery from the event and check out our exclusive video content.  Stay tuned for a forthcoming conference report.

The second took place in April 2014.  “Turkey’s Turn” has a newly completed report, and here’s the update IBGC shared with us last month:

It’s been over a year since we brought together global thought leaders, decision makers, and those shaping business and investment, politics, and policy in Turkey for a deep discussion around geopolitics, energy, business, and more, all seeking to answer the central question: Is it “Turkey’s Turn?”

Today, Turkey remains at a critical nexus of international news and business.  As the country continues to expand its dealings with Europe, it also seeks to solidify its position in the tempestuous Middle East.  At the Institute for Business in the Global Context, we continue to be a part of these conversations long after the curtain closed on what was a truly remarkable two days of discussion at our “Turkey’s Turn?” Conference.

Building off the conference, this report dives into the many questions confronting Turkey today.  From Turkey’s government at home, to threats on its borders, to the country’s evolving role in international business, we dig deeper into the ideas and insights that emerged over the two-day event and tie them to the ongoing conversation around Turkey and its place in the world.

Be sure to check out more exclusive content from the conference, including photos and video interviews with some of our speakers.

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Fletcher is the home base for the State Department’s local Diplomat in Residence (DIR).  Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard has served in the position since last fall, and is just wrapping up her time here.  We can’t claim that the DIR is at Fletcher solely for the benefit of Fletcher students, but it is great that this source of support and information is so conveniently situated.  I’ll let Ambassador Leonard describe her work. 

It has been a pleasure to be hosted here as the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence (DIR) for New England!

The core of the DIR job is, in fact, outreach to prospective Foreign Service Officers, Specialists, and Civil Service professionals about career and internship possibilities.  (“New England” is a bit of a misnomer, in that we have divided this university-rich region by assigning Connecticut to my colleague based in New York.)  In addition, DIRs enjoy sharing their professional experiences and policy expertise, both to provide insight into what diplomats actually do, and to participate in academic discussions on subjects near and dear to their hearts.  As the recent Ambassador to Mali, while at Fletcher, I’ve enjoyed activities with the Africana Club, the ICRC research lab on migration in the Sahel, talking to visiting Harambe scholars, as well as joining the undergraduate International Relations Careers day.  Perhaps the most unusual evening of the year was sitting on a panel as the U.S. Ambassador who actually lived through a coup in Mali, next to Tufts grad Todd Moss who wrote a work of fiction about one!

I hasten to add that the role continues; following a bit of vacation, I’ll be around from June 15 for a good part of the summer to answer any questions about State Department recruitment and student programs.   For example, a new group of applicants would have heard just recently that they have been invited to the oral exam, and if past experience is any guide, Fletcher students and alums will be well represented in that group.  And in mid-summer, those who learn that they passed the June Foreign Service Officer written test will be asked to provide input for the Qualifications Evaluation Panel through five “personal narratives.”  I look forward to meeting with both groups to help explain the next steps in the process.

If you’re in the local area and interested in a Foreign Service career, you can email me to arrange a moment to stop by my office.  And a very pleasant summer to all!

Ambassador Leonard’s successor as Diplomat in Residence is due to start at Fletcher in October.

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With our off-site meeting on Monday, I didn’t have time to do justice to the Commencement ceremony and I thought I’d add a few words today.  First, I should explain that the weekend is loaded with events.  On Friday night, many graduating students and alumni on campus for reunion were joined by staff and faculty for a traditional New England clam bake.  Then, on Saturday, we held “Class Day,” which is when the graduating students hear from an outside speaker, as well as an alumnus.  This year, the alum was Dr. Charles Dallara, F75, former Managing Director of the Institute of International Finance.  The invited outside speaker was Dr. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014, who also received an honorary degree from the University on Sunday.  In addition, several students received awards for scholarship and contributions to the community.

On Sunday, the spotlight and the sun shone on the graduating students.  They started the day with champagne toasts, led by classmates, and then proceeded to the all-University event, where degrees are awarded school-by-school.  The commencement address was given by Dr. Madeline Albright, U.S. Secretary of State from 1997-2001.

All of that occurred before I actually turned up on Sunday.  I arrived as graduating students were crossing over from the all-University ceremony to Blakeley Courtyard, where they would line up by degree program and then alphabetically for the procession into the tent.  This is always the perfect time for me to congratulate students — they’re all “filed” in predictable places.  After some farewells, I headed to the tent.

Dean Stavridis makes only the briefest of speeches before handing the podium to the stars of the day.  The first is the recipient of the James L. Paddock Teaching Award — Prof. Jenny Aker, F97 this year.  As an alumna, Prof. Aker was in a good position to assure all the graduates (and their parents) that they are on their way to exciting work.

Anna 1Prof. Aker was followed by the two student speakers.  Our Admissions pal, Anna McCallie, was up first.  Anna is smart and funny and gave the speech we had hoped for.  Among the themes was a tally of all that our students from Nebraska have accomplished.  This reflected some careful research — even those of us in the audience from Admissions didn’t know everything she had uncovered.

When the first student speech is amazing, it’s a bit of a nail biter as the second student ascends to the podium.  What is it like to follow such a well-received speech?  We needn’t have worried.  From the moment she kicked off her shoes (adjusting her height to the microphone, rather than the microphone to her height), Fern Gray gave a speech that was charming and touching (much wiping of eyes from the audience) and all in that lovely Trinidad and Tobago accent.Fern 1

(An aside: I first met Fern when she visited Fletcher as an applicant.  I was supposed to conduct her evaluative interview, but I ended up with a conflict and instead recruited a student, first pausing to greet Fern and explain the change in personnel.  Fern and the student had a great chat, and the rest is history.)

The graduates were called by degree program and name (thus the crafty arrangements for the procession — everyone was already where they needed to be) and Dean Stavridis closed the event by calling upon the graduates to be “dealers in hope,” as they make their way through their careers and the world.  And with that (and lunch in a separate tent), they were off!


The weather and the mood all cooperated for a lovely Commencement Sunday yesterday.  It is always an enjoyable event, marked by enthusiastic participants.  The Hall of Flags is already nearly emptied out, but will grow emptier through the week.  To postpone the subsequent loneliness felt by those of us who will work through the summer, the Admissions staff will be spending the day off-site, planning our summer projects and looking ahead to a new admissions cycle in the fall.  We’ll be back tomorrow (Tuesday).

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With fewer than ten days remaining until Commencement, the needed structures are starting to appear.  I took a walk through the heart of the University campus this morning and found the platform and tent that will be used for the main graduation ceremony that precedes Fletcher’s event for the conferring of diplomas.

All those fences will come down and chairs will be set up on the grass for the thousands of guests who attend.

We’ve enjoyed fantastic weather lately and the warm temperatures have coaxed into bloom the flowers and trees that are running a little behind schedule, due to our crazy winter.

And there’s a new statue of Jumbo, the Tufts mascot, to greet Commencement guests, too.

The Fletcher exam period ended yesterday, and the Hall of Flags is nearly deserted this morning.  Some students are still completing research papers and may also have exams at other schools where they have cross-registered for classes.  But most first-year students are off to internships and second-year students are starting their “Dis-Orientation” week today.  Dis-Orientation is the official/unofficial student-organized week of social events that is the closing bracket on the Fletcher experience that began with Orientation at the start of their studies.

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