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Welcome back to the Admissions Blog everyone! It’s exciting to start a new academic year, though also a bit daunting as the pace of life has picked up dramatically since the sleepy August days of last week. Already we’re turning our attention to travel and on-campus visitor activities. Students, new and returning, are meandering through the building, pursuing a special Shopping Day schedule, before the official start of classes tomorrow. It’s all happening!
An important marker of the start of the new academic year is Convocation, which will take place on Friday. Those who can’t attend can still participate virtually through the live broadcast on the Fletcher Facebook page. Tune in Friday at 2:00 p.m. EDT (UTC -4) to hear remarks from Dean Stavridis and Reeta Roy, F89, president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, an organization that has partnered with Fletcher in the past.
Between now and Friday, students will nail down their course selections for the semester and enjoy a few days when they are completely caught up with assignments. We in Admissions will continue booking flights and hotels and contacting alumni to help out during our visits. On my own to-do list for today is to ship materials for the New York APSIA fair on Tuesday. If you’re planning to be there, be sure to say hi!
The new year is underway and we look forward to meeting you here at Fletcher or on the road!
I had the honor and pleasure yesterday to attend the dissertation defense of one of our PhD students. I can’t always make it to these milestone events, but when I can, I do. Even when the subject matter is completely outside of anything I’ve ever known, it’s inspiring to celebrate the result of so many years of intense research and study.
On another note, new videos have been added to a collection answering the question “Why Fletcher?” Here’s one, from an alumna at the World Bank (where, I hear, you can bump into a Fletcher grad around any corner).
Tagged with: Why Fletcher?
The icing on the top of this year’s admissions process cake is Orientation. It’s our first opportunity to see all the new members of the Fletcher community at once and it’s their chance to come together as a family — ready to study together and support each other in so many other ways.
As a practical matter, it’s also the point when nearly all former-applicant/now-student concerns shift from Admissions to other Fletcher offices. Until scholarships are renewed next spring, nearly all questions are best answered by other offices, though we’re always a resource for helping students find their answers.
Today the newbies will be attending several sessions at which general information will be shared with them. Tomorrow we’ll help promote community building. I’ll be among the staff members who are leading ice-breaker sessions. (Since I’m a little shy myself, I’ll be running introvert-friendly activities that I hope will work well for all.) The rest of the week continues with a similar mix of information sharing and community building.
And with that, another academic year begins!
On Thursday and Friday, Fletcher will be the site of an event jointly organized with MIT: the Science Diplomacy: Dissertation Enhancement Workshop. According to the organizers, the two-day workshop aims to provide participants with an understanding of science diplomacy theory and practice, as well as “soft skills such as negotiation and dispute resolution techniques in relation to scientific issues in national and international settings.” You’ll find the full program here. The workshop is organized by Fletcher’s Science Diplomacy Center, with science diplomacy an area of increasing interest among students and faculty.
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.
Tagged with: ISSP
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!
Tagged with: GMAP
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.
Here’s a brief video introducing a compelling story about Arslan Muradi, a 2017 Fletcher graduate.
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.)
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