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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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In an annual tradition, we’ve asked recent graduates and current students to offer a Coffee Hour wherever they’re spending the summer.  These are informal events where prospective applicants and incoming students can sit and chat with someone who’s in the know about the program.  Here’s the list of locations where folks will be grabbing a coffee and pulling up a chair.  For updated details, check the Coffee Hours website.

Abuja, Nigeria
Ahmedabad, India
Athens, Greece
Atlanta, GA
Bangalore, India
Bogotá, Colombia
Boston, MA
Boston, MA (Cambridge)
Boston, MA (Somerville)
Brussels, Belgium
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dubai, UAE
Durban, South Africa
Frankfurt, Germany
Geneva, Switzerland
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hong Kong
Honolulu, HI
Islamabad, Pakistan
Jakarta, Indonesia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kansas City, KS
Karachi, Pakistan
Kigali, Rwanda
Lima, Peru
Lisbon, Portugal
Managua, Nicaragua
Meknes, Morocco
Mexico City, Mexico
Moscow, Russia
Nairobi, Kenya
New Delhi, India
New York, NY (Manhattan)
New York, NY (Brooklyn)
Paris, France
Ramallah, West Bank
Rome, Italy
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
Seoul, South Korea
Tallinn, Estonia
Tbilisi, Georgia
Tokyo, Japan
Washington, DC
Yangon, Myanmar
Zurich, Switzerland

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Continuing the Q&A advice from the Admissions Graduate Assistants (GAs), we’ll turn first to a critical piece of wisdom — where to study.  As I noted yesterday, the GAs answered these questions a few weeks ago, at the very end of the spring semester.

What is your favorite on-campus study space?

Ashley: I like sitting outside of Ginn Library most of the time, because there’s plenty of light from outside and sometimes you get the pleasant break of a friend walking by and saying hello.  But if that’s not studious enough for you, the third floor of Ginn also has a bank of windows that makes working inside a lot more tolerable!

Brooklyn: The third floor of Ginn Library.  There are windows and sunlight and you can pretend that you are outside doing something more exciting than finance problem sets.

Cindy: I am the kind of person who likes my surroundings to be quiet when I am reading material for my classes.  I enjoy sitting in the Ginn Library or reserving study rooms in the Cabot basement.  If I am getting simple tasks done (checking e-mails, getting organized), I like the high-top tables in the Hall of Flags.

Dristy: In my first year, my favorite study space was the area outside Ginn Library, both for the daylight as well as the potential to socialize.  And in my second year, I spent most of my time in the Mugar Computer Lab that only Fletcher students have access to.  This was mostly because I took classes that required the use of certain software available on school computers, but it proved to be a great study and work space.

How/where did you meet most of your Fletcher friends?  (In class, Orientation, student activities?)

Ashley: I had the benefit of both of my roommates being in pre-session classes while I was getting settled in Somerville — so I met a lot of folks through them.  Certainly Orientation was the first big chance to meet new faces, but I think from there friendships developed organically, inside and outside of class, and through the friends I’d already begun to make.  I still find myself making new friends, even in my last semester.

Brooklyn: I met most of my Fletcher friends during Orientation, but didn’t really become friends until well along in the first semester.  Be open to going to social events, even through your school work might make it feel prohibitive.  Think of it as networking!

Cindy: I met most of the people I spend time with in class and during extracurricular activities that I regularly attend.  I also met some wonderful people at social hours, which happen on Thursdays.  I would recommend forming study/reading groups with classmates as a way to get to know each other, and I also recommend going to as many events as possible during the fall to meet fellow classmates early on.

Dristy: I met most of my closest Fletcher friends in class and at events/activities organized by student organizations.  Those were the natural ways to meet people with shared interests while spending time doing what we enjoy.

What is something you regret not doing while at Fletcher?  (Help incoming students to avoid making the same mistake.)

Ashley: To be honest, I am struggling to answer this question — it seems as though I’ve done a lot in two years here! — but I suppose I wish I had gone into Boston more often.  I already know the city pretty well, but there are always new things to do and places to visit.  It’s just too easy to remain in the Fletcher environs, as there is no shortage of things to do and people to see here, either!

Brooklyn: I regret not applying to internships sooner.  Not sure where you want to be?  Who cares!  If you apply to an investment bank and decide later on that it’s not a good fit for you, then you can always turn down an offer.  On the other hand, you will never get an offer if you missed the application deadlines.  You’ll never learn to swim if you don’t get in the pool!

Cindy: I regret not going to any of the Open Mic Nights this year.  I heard awesome things about them, and I wish I had made the time for at least one.  I also regret having a lot of late afternoon and evening classes this semester.  I missed some really great events that I wish I could have gone to.

Dristy: As I wrap up my time at Fletcher, when I look back, I feel honored to have had this journey, but there are two things that I will always regret not doing enough of during my time here.  First, I wish I had taken more advantage of office hour with professors.  I think it would have allowed me to strengthen my relationships with them and added significantly to my learning experience.  Second, I regret not participating enough in school-wide events, especially in my second year.  As my course load increased with the semester, it became more difficult to prioritize attending events, such as talks by guest speakers, panel discussions, etc.  These events have proven to be incredible opportunities to expand my knowledge and understanding of topics outside class and beyond my area of interest, so I definitely wish I had attended more of those during my time here.

What additional tips would you offer to incoming students?

Ashley: Enjoy your time at Fletcher!  With graduation right around the corner for me, I can assure you it goes by pretty quickly.  As important as the work you’ll be doing is, don’t forget to make plenty of time for the truly excellent community of people that Fletcher has to offer.

Brooklyn: Graduate school is what you make of it, so get involved early.  Don’t let your dreams be dreams!

Cindy: Don’t be afraid to ask for help; don’t worry about not being able to do everything; have an open mind; put yourself in new situations; and take the time to hang out with your friends!  Your time at Fletcher will go by so quickly, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it!

Dristy: I encourage incoming students to take advantage of the Shopping Day, Course Evaluations, and insights from second years/alumni to help them select courses.  I would also highly recommend taking the foreign language exam early in your time at Fletcher (especially the oral exam, which in some cases may require you to coordinate with professors outside Tufts).

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So far, I’ve shared the lists of suggested (but hardly required) reading, and now I have some advice for incoming students from our Admissions Office Graduate Assistants (GAs).  Before they left campus, we asked Ashley, Brooklyn, Cindy, and Dristy (ABC&D) for their answers to a few questions.  Their responses are below and will continue tomorrow.

Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?

Ashley: Get a little bit of a plan in order.  Some things (your finances!) require more careful planning than others, but it doesn’t hurt to get a good handle on what sorts of classes you might like to take, what your commute to campus will be like, or where you might like to explore in the Boston area.  You should be ready to deviate from that plan once you get here, but having given it some thought ahead of time will make those first few weeks a little less overwhelming and will allow you to get your footing more quickly.  Already knowing some of my options made it a lot easier to make decisions with all of the new information I got upon arrival.

Brooklyn: Prepare for the equivalency exams!  If you have studied a subject before (statistics or economics) you can test out of the lower level classes, but it’s likely that you will need a little bit of a refresher on the content prior to taking the exam.  It really helps you get the most out of your time at Fletcher because, since you are only here for two years, you don’t want to waste your time on a class you’ve already taken just because you were too lazy over the summer to crack open a book for a few hours.

Cindy: If you have time off in the summer before you officially come to Fletcher, maybe plan a trip to visit the Boston/Medford/Somerville area, just to get a feel for what it’s like to live here.  My husband and I made a trip up to secure housing, and we also took the time to visit the Tufts/Fletcher campus, eat at a couple of great restaurants, and take some scenic drives/walks around the area.

A second thing I would recommend is to brush up on your language skills if you know that you have been out of practice for a little while.  I took time over the summer to study Russian, which is the language I plan to test for, which was very helpful for transitioning to Fletcher.

Last, read up about the Design and Monitoring course offered during the August pre-session.  It’s only offered once each year, right before the fall semester, and it is also a pretty popular class.  I will be taking it this summer before I start my second year, and I wish I had talked to other students about the course when I first started, to see if it was something I really wanted to gain experience in.  I am very glad I have a chance to take it in August!

Dristy: I encourage incoming students to rest, relax, and spend time with family and friends before commencing this journey.  I also encourage brushing up on foreign language skills over the summer because, once the semester begins, it gets difficult to carve out time to prepare for the exam.  Also, those who intend on taking the economics and quantitative equivalency tests, I would encourage them to review the material over the summer.  Since the equivalency exams take place during Orientation week, you may not have time to brush up directly before the exams.

For international students, especially those who have not visited or lived in the U.S. before, I strongly encourage you to reach out to current international students to get useful insights and tips on how to navigate some of the basics in the U.S., for example, where to buy (and costs for) bedding, personal care supplies, phone plans, etc.

Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do before starting their Fletcher studies?

Ashley: Don’t stress!  Easier said than done, I know.  And certainly, don’t feel bad when you inevitably are stressed in your first semester — being back in school can be a huge adjustment, not to mention being (for many people) in a new place, meeting new people, and so on.  But you need not add to your anxiety level in these last few months before Fletcher begins with worries about how everything will go, whether you’ll make new friends, if your apartment will be livable, etc.  (Everything will go just fine and there are people to help you if it doesn’t.  You’ll absolutely make friends, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time in your apartment anyway!)

Brooklyn: Do NOT wait until starting your Fletcher studies to start thinking about bigger picture items such as “What do I want to get out of my time here?  Are there any non-academic goals I want to set?  Are there any faculty/staff who could be helpful in reaching these goals?  Where do I want to intern/work after Fletcher?  What sectors really interest me?”  School can seem pretty overwhelming at first, but if you have some of the bigger picture items at least somewhat outlined, it helps you fill in the rest of the pieces of the puzzle (like which classes to take and which extracurricular activities to get involved in) as you start moving on your first semester.

Cindy: Do not stress about housing!  I looked for hours and days in a row to try and find a place for my husband, dog, and me, and I agonized over it.  While it is tough finding a dog-friendly apartment at a reasonable price, we eventually found a place and are happy.

Dristy: It is exciting to think about classes and all the interesting things you are going to learn at Fletcher, but I would suggest incoming students not worry about figuring out classes for the fall semester or how to fulfill the breadth and depth requirements.  We offer Shopping Days at the beginning of every semester when many professors give brief introductions to the courses they are offering that semester.  I found the Shopping Days incredibly helpful to learn about courses and professors, and they helped me a lot in making decisions about what classes to take.

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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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As a member of the Admissions staff, I freely offer my advice on putting together a strong application, but I leave it to others to provide suggestions to incoming students.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the tips I’ve collected this spring.  I’m going to start today with a summer reading list offered by Colin Steele, who just completed his first year in the MALD program.  I had put out a call to the Social List for their suggestions and, nearly instantly, received a fully formed suggested library from Colin.

Lest you worry, there truly is no required pre-Fletcher reading, but we always hear from incoming students who simply want to get their brains thinking in a Fletcher-ish way.  Colin’s list strikes the perfect balance between more and less scholarly material, and he starts by describing the principles that guided him as he made his selections.

Colin’s List

Book Listing philosophy: These are all books that have shaped my worldview, my appreciation of language, and/or how I approach Fletcher.  In general, I think about the summer before Fletcher as an on-ramp to the education itself: reading, experience, and reflection over the summer can really help get you up to speed and thus ease the transition into campus life.  (That was certainly my experience, anyway.)  As trite or generic as it might sound, I’d recommend reading at least one really fulfilling, edifying book.  Maybe you always (or never) wanted to read Cicero, but you’re worried about the state of society.  Maybe you haven’t read Steinbeck since 10th grade, or you’ve never been to the U.S.  Maybe you just haven’t read a book for real in a while.  In any of those cases, summer is a great opportunity to do so.

One final word: as Dean Stavridis writes in The Leader’s Bookshelf, it’s not about what you read — it’s how you read.  That’s certainly true of grad school, and the summer before is an opportunity to practice reading intentionally.  Whatever you choose, make it something that seems like it will frame the Fletcher education and experience you’re looking for, and approach the text that way.  That’s a habit of mind that will pay off in spades at school.

Fletcher-y books
A Passion for Leadership, Robert Gates
The latest from the former U.S. secretary of defense and author of Duty.  A short, readable, and eminently usable guide to leading and transforming organizations large and small.  Also includes a call to consider public service.

Painting as a Pastime, Winston Churchill
A very short, perhaps lesser-known work on achieving balance in life and work.  Even at Fletcher, it’s important to have interests and recreational outlets outside of work and study.

All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
One of the great American novels; a thinly fictionalized account of the rise and reign of Huey P. Long of Louisiana.

In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson
In 1933 — the same year Fletcher was founded — the U.S. ambassador to Germany has a ringside seat to Hitler’s rise.  True history told with Larson’s characteristic page-turning zip.

The Leader’s Bookshelf, James Stavridis
Fifty more book recommendations (with reviews and synopses), plus useful articles on reading, writing, and leading.  A good opportunity to get to know the dean virtually before arriving on campus.

The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Tom Clancy
My journey to Fletcher probably started with my first Tom Clancy book, and I went back and read a couple last summer to see how I’d find them en route to grad school.  They’re still great yarns, and this is one of the best.

The classic or classics you’ve always wanted to read: Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Waltz, Kissinger, Lawrence Freedman, whomever.  Tackling some giant in your field with purpose before arriving will pay big dividends when classes start, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while.  The actual classics — Aristotle, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Laozi, etc. — are also worth it.

Finally, here’s link to a PDF version of an old article the dean wrote for the U.S. Naval Institute called “Read, Think, Write, and PUBLISH.” I printed myself a copy before I made my way to Fletcher, and it really helped shape my approach.

Not-so-Fletcher-y books
The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay
Recommended to me by the person who introduced me to Fletcher 10 years ago.  A bildungsroman about a boy learning about boxing and life in apartheid-era South Africa.  (One of the top three on this list, in my opinion.)

Mink River or The Plover, Brian Doyle
Just when you thought you’d outgrown talking-animal books, Doyle comes along and convinces you that untranslated Irish and the “dark, secret tongue of bears” might actually make sense.

Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West, Cormac McCarthy
This is a gut-punch of a book.  McCarthy does things with the American language that you didn’t know were possible.

No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy
The shortest and most accessible of his books (and infinitely better than the movie).  Worth (re)reading now.

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
And/or other Steinbeck, e.g. Travels with Charley.  One of the great storytellers of the American land and its people; worthwhile for both U.S. and non-U.S. students.

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Norman Maclean
Very short, exceptionally well-turned prose.  For my money, some of the best writing around.

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, David Lipsky, and This is Water, David Foster Wallace
To ponder.

Angela’s Ashes and Teacher Man, Frank McCourt
Not uplifting, but elegiac.

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I wanted to draw readers’ attention to a nice Q&A feature with graduating students that the Fletcher communications team pulled together this spring.  The pieces have the common theme of “commencing a new chapter,” and the posts come from:

Ammar, MIB student who was active in Fletcher student governance and gave a wonderful introduction for Professor Schena at Commencement.

Angga, whose contributions to the Fletcher student community are nearly impossible to summarize.  Suffice it to say that everyone loves Angga.

Annin, MIB student and two-year volunteer Admissions interviewer, who also was a force behind the smooth organization of the year-end Diplomat’s Ball.

Ashley and Dristy, Admissions’ beloved two-year Graduate Assistants.

Tanay, one of the two dynamic student speakers at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony.

 

What a beautiful Commencement weekend!  Two fabulous sunny days tucked between the Boston area’s first heat wave and a dreary rainy Monday — what more could we ask for?  As planned, I arrived yesterday in time to snag folks as they moved from the all-University graduation to the Fletcher ceremony.  I didn’t catch everyone (sadly) but, among others, I was happy to see student bloggers Adnan, Tatsuo, and McKenzie.  (Adnan and Tatsuo both apologized for delays in sending their final posts.  I’m sure we’ll hear from them soon.)  McKenzie was honored on Saturday with a prize for academic achievement and community involvement by a graduating student.  Any of the finalists for the award would have been worthy — being selected is truly a big honor.  Congratulations, McKenzie!

Then, once the processions were complete, we all settled down for speeches and the distribution of diplomas.  The Fletcher website offers quick summaries of both Commencement and Class Day, and the Tufts website offers details and photos from the all-University ceremony (also called Phase I).  Here’s an example:

I had a great view of the proceedings, but one that was frequently interrupted by photographers, so I’ll let the websites do the talking.  But I still want to share two photos that represent a special joy.  There are a good number of children who started life while a parent was a Fletcher student.  Two examples from among our PhD graduates are Rizwan (adorable daughter) and Avner (adorable twin boys), who are receiving their PhD “hoods”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reaction of the “graduating kids” from all degree programs was priceless.  Many weren’t sure what was going on, but there was one lovely little girl in her own gown who totally owned the stage!

Once the PhD graduates had all been recognized, the ceremony concluded and everyone moved off to a reception.  The end of another academic year!  A few graduates have said they’ll stop by this week, which will ease our transition to the very quiet summer.  For a few days, though, we’ll enjoy the glow of having launched the newest members of the Fletcher alumni family!

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While the Admissions team has dutifully pursued the week’s work, graduating students have inched ever closer to the day when they will leave the Fletcher nest.  I pause now and then to think about the people I’ll miss from the Class of 2017.  There are our Graduate Assistants, Dristy and Ashley.  And our student bloggers, Adnan, McKenzie, and Tatsuo.  But the list runs much longer than that: Admissions volunteers and interviewers, student members of the Admissions Committee, PhD students who have contributed so much to the community, students I interviewed when they were applicants and whose progress I’ve noted from behind the scenes.  And more!

This is an annual theme for us.  We know that the Hall of Flags will suddenly empty out one May week when exams are over, but we still forget that our connection to the students we’ve gotten to know will suddenly be from a distance.  Sigh.

It’s all good, though.  They’ll go off and do great stuff, and helping them take the first step toward a new career is the mission of the Admissions Office.

I’ll be at Commencement on Sunday and I’m looking forward to the joyous/wistful day that I know it will be.  The soon-to-be graduates line up in alphabetical order before the processional heads toward the graduation tent, and I’ll wander along the line to say some goodbyes and hand out some hugs.  After the ceremony, I’ll say some more goodbyes and greet a few parents.  And then on Monday, the Admissions team will return to the office and continue the work of helping the Class of 2019 and those that follow to take their first steps toward a new career.

To the Class of 2017: Please keep in touch with us!  Come to visit, connect on social media, drop a line now and then.  Ta-ta for now, but we hope to hear from you soon!

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With less than three days until the Class of 2017 gathers to start their celebration with toasts, speeches, and diploma collecting, let’s take a look at the curriculum that Adnan put together for himself in the past two years.  We often say (with likely complete accuracy) that no two students ever take precisely the same set of classes in the MALD program and I hope these annotated curricula help make that clear.  Note that Adnan pursued three Fields of Study.  Only two are required, but many students will complete a third.  And also note that Adnan audited two classes.  A “certified audit” is noted on the student’s transcript.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
I worked as a staff reporter and later an associate editor at Newsweek in Lahore, Pakistan.

Fields of Study
International Information and Communication
International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
International Business Relations

Capstone Topic
Self Determination in the Context of the Kashmir Conflict.

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
I would like to pursue a career at the United Nations.

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

International Communication
Social Networks and Organizations – Part I
Social Networks and Organizations – Part II
Global Political Economy
International Legal Order

Returning to school after a five-year gap was exciting, but it also required a great deal of readjustment.  With my background in journalism, I knew International Information and Communication was going to be one of my Fields of Study, so I took the core/required class for it and also both halves of Social Networks.  International Communication with Professor Gideon, whom I had also chosen as my faculty advisor, was among my favorite classes because of the wide range of topics it covered that I could relate to my work experience.  Social Networks offered a fascinating new way of discovering hidden connections in data sets.  It also helped me acquire hard skills like using social network analysis software such as UCINET and NodeXL.  Looking back, I think opting to complete my breadth requirements in my first semester with foundational classes like International Legal Order and Global Political Economy was a wise decision because it strengthened my base for future coursework in international relations.

Semester Two

Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
Data Analysis and Statistical Methods
Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution
The Arts of Communication
Contemporary South Asia (Certified Audit)

International Business was another interest, and I loved that I had the option of contrasting my IR coursework with such classes.  In Strategy and Innovation we studied real-life cases of some of the world’s leading businesses and came up with creative solutions to actual challenges they faced.  An important lesson I learned here was how complex problems can be tackled by asking the most basic questions about the task at hand.  Statistics offered a great opportunity to sharpen my quantitative skills, and Arts of Communication was a unique experience.  Not only did we learn that public speaking, like any skill, can be improved tremendously through rigorous practice, but we got the chance to hear speeches from our classmates and learn things about them we would not have otherwise.  In my second semester, I also decided that I wanted to learn about conflict resolution — it’s applicable everywhere and the Field of Study is a Fletcher flagship.  The core/required class I took provided a solid base for understanding the roots of a variety of conflicts.  Contemporary South Asia didn’t fulfill any of my requirements, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to study with Professor Ayesha Jalal, a renowned Pakistani historian whose work I had been following long before Fletcher, so I audited it.  I’m glad I was able to do it because it was the first time I looked at South Asia, where I had lived most of my life, through an academic lens, and it provided a fresh perspective on my knowledge of the region.

Summer Internship
UNICEF in New York.

Semester Three

Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Processes of International Negotiation
Nationalism, Self Determination and Minority Rights
Media, Politics and Power in the Digital Age (cross-registered at Harvard Kennedy School)
Cultural Capital and Development (Certified Audit)

Corporate Finance, the core requirement for the International Business Relations field, was the most challenging class I took in my third semester.  The syllabus was extensive and the workload rather heavy, but looking back it’s also among the classes from which I gained the most practical knowledge.  International Negotiation was also an extremely practical class.  In addition to learning negotiation techniques and practicing them during simulations in class, the assignments that required us to rigorously analyze a conflict of our choice and propose strategies for negotiation taught me a step-by-step method of approaching intractable problems.  I took Nationalism, Self Determination and Minority Rights purely out of an interest in understanding the cause of modern day conflicts and found my Capstone idea here.  Cross-registration at Harvard is a great opportunity we are offered, one I had wanted to pursue since my second semester.  Media, Politics and Power in the Digital Age, taught by Nicco Mele who runs the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at HKS, perfectly complemented my International Communication class from my first semester.  Whereas the latter was more academic and theory-based, the former looked at current issues in the digital world and linked them to politics.  After reading the syllabus for Cultural Capital and Development, I was too intrigued to ignore it, so I audited the class.

Semester Four

Peace Operations
The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs
Introduction to Economic Theory
Independent Study with Professor Hurst Hannum for my Capstone Project

It’s hard to believe my final semester is now over.  Time flies at Fletcher, and I’ve hardly had a chance to reflect on the past two years.  This semester I completed my Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Field of Study with Peace Operations.  What I liked most about it is that it brought together elements of international law, conflict resolution, politics, and history.  A guest speaker in one of our classes said, “peace operations really are the arena of international politics.”  I couldn’t agree more and feel it’s a great class to take in one’s final semester.  Leaving my economics requirement hanging till my last semester was probably not the brightest idea, but with everything else I was trying to squeeze in, it never fit into my schedule earlier.  The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs was my favorite class this semester.  It pushed me to think critically and place decision makers in context to understand the policies they pursued.  I left each session with a life lesson, in addition to some very peculiar facts.  Did you know whales are crucial to security?

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