With no advance planning on my part, it looks like this will be Student Stories week!  Today we’ll hear about Mariya’s Spring Semester. 

Green grass, colorful flowers, and trees in bloom — spring is finally here!  As I sit on the third floor of Ginn Library staring out at our beautiful campus, I can’t help but smile and feel grateful for spring.  Although I still have a few finals left before I officially fulfill all my graduation requirements, I thought I’d take a break from studying and reflect on some of the highlights of my spring semester.

Russia Trek — From March 15-25, I participated with 15 peers in the first-ever spring break study trip to Russia.  Organized and sponsored by the newly launched Russia and Eurasia Program, the trip felt like an experiential sequel to the U.S-Russia Relations course I took last semester.  Whereas the course gave me an academic foundation to understand the U.S.-Russia relationship, the trip provided a hands-on opportunity to negotiate and learn from colleagues at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, experience Russian culture, and nurture friendships that will last a lifetime.  We spent a weekend in St. Petersburg and a week in Moscow, where our trip culminated in presenting our negotiated memos on cybersecurity and the North Korean crisis to the Russian Foreign Ministry and U.S. Embassy Moscow.  In addition to these milestones, I enjoyed roaming the Red Square at night, eating eclectic cuisines from post-Soviet countries, indulging in modern art at the Hermitage Museum and Tretyakov Gallery, shopping for matryoshka dolls and ushanka fur hats, and touring the many Orthodox churches including the famous, onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral.  And, of course, I ran into the Fletcher family in Moscow: Maria and Nikita, who were exchange students at Fletcher during my first semester.  Overall, it was an incredible trip and I’m very humbled for having had the chance to experience Russia.  Who knows, maybe I will be posted there one day!

Capstone — I am relieved to say that my capstone is written and submitted!  Although I had been doing research all year long, including original interviews, I did not begin writing until after returning from Russia.  The topic for my thesis — destruction of cultural property during armed conflict — was inspired by my travels, particularly in Turkey where I saw a lot ruined sites and landmarks.  Using Bosnia and Armenia as case studies, I delved deeper into ethnic warfare, protection of cultural property under international law, and memory politics.  It was stressful and hectic to complete my master’s thesis in four weeks, but I disciplined myself to take advantage of every bit of free time I had.  I would like to recognize my capstone advisor, Professor Richard Shultz, who was instrumental not only in my thesis-writing, but also my entire Fletcher career.  My classmates and I created a tribute video for him as a token of our appreciation, highlighting memories from his famed Role of Force course in the International Security Studies field.

Innovation Field Lab — Given my desire for a career in public service, I decided to take “Harvard Innovation Field Lab: Public Problem Solving in Massachusetts Cities.”  Co-taught by Professor Jorrit de Jong and Mayor of Somerville Joe Curtatone, the course expanded my knowledge, thinking, and approach to public sector problem solving.  The class not only gave us tools and expertise but also an opportunity to apply them to the problem of distressed properties in six Massachusetts cities.  My colleagues Adam, Carlos, Kysie and I worked with the City of Lawrence by conducting field visits, interviews with officials, and meetings with key stakeholders.  After semester-long research, we pitched three innovative and actionable solutions in a presentation to Mayor Dan Rivera on our last class.  I feel empowered having taken this course and I am excited to apply the framework of “discovery, design, and delivery” to international problem solving.

DC Career Trip — It feels like ages ago, but in mid-February, a month after returning from Beirut, I participated in the DC Career Trip organized by the hardworking staff in the Office of Career Services (OCS).  The two-day trip is an opportunity for career exploration, information-gathering about specific organizations, and networking with practitioners across career fields through site visits, lunch panel discussions, and evening alumni networking receptions.  Many students in the past were able to secure internships or jobs from this exclusive opportunity.

Although I feel blessed to already know what I will be doing after Fletcher, I decided to participate in the DC trip to familiarize myself with the Fletcher alumni community in Washington, which is home to me.  In my actual home in Alexandria, my parents hosted a Fletcher Feast for my friends and we enjoyed a traditional, home-cooked Pakistani meal and a “Fletcher cake” to top off the weekend.

Alrighty, back to studying for international financial management and econometrics!

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I just sent off the Student Stories blogger crew for 2017-18, following our annual gathering.  Back to studying and paper-writing they went, following the only hour of the year when we all come together.  Six of this year’s seven bloggers were able to attend.  Here’s the group:  Pulkit, Adi, Mariya, Prianka, Akshobh, and Gary.

I had hoped we had picked a time when everyone could come, but schedules are very unpredictable this time of year and Kaitlyn was unable to join us.

It is truly a joy to work with these writers.  They have all volunteered their time for at least one year and whether they blow right past a deadline or submit a post on time, I never take for granted their generosity!  I’ll miss working with Pulkit, Adi, and Mariya, who are graduating after two years of blogging, as well as Prianka who will complete the one-year LLM (and her blogging commitment) this month.  I hope (expect) to welcome Akshobh, Gary, and Kaitlyn back for another year of writing in September.

One additional note.  I’m not the only one who appreciates these folks.  They’ve all been busy with multiple commitments throughout the year.  I’d like to highlight, though, that Pulkit recently received the Presidential Award for Civic Life, one of the University’s highest honors for students.  I’ll let Pulkit tell you more via a tweet.

Congratulations, Pulkit, and fellow graduates Mariya, Adi and Prianka!  Thank you to all the student bloggers for your help all year!

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Alongside the last day of classes today, the blog’s Student Stories writers are wrapping up their commitments for the year.  Gary, our writer from the PhD program, is naturally looking ahead to the writing of his dissertation and some pre-research research was involved.

You may have heard the rumor before.  A student puts hundreds or even thousands of hours of work into formulating, researching, analyzing, writing and finally defending their doctoral dissertation…only for it never to be read by anyone outside the dissertation committee.  To put lie to that falsehood, I plumbed the depths of the Fletcher dissertation archive held at Ginn Library.  I selected from the hundreds of available dissertations by picking those written by people with whom I now have or previously have had a connection.  For some writers, I have been their student somewhere along the line or they are fellow military officers (active or retired); and for others, I used their research as a resource to prepare for military operations I have personally participated in.

Fenway Park doesn’t have the only Green Monster in the Boston area…here is Ginn Library’s own “green monster” of Fletcher dissertations.

Just to be clear, I didn’t read the dissertations I picked out from cover to cover — after all, some of them exceed 500 pages in length.  I mainly read the abstracts and the front matter to get a sense of where the writers, some now notable members of the commentariat, government, think tanks, and so forth, were in their personal journeys while writing their Fletcher dissertations.  It was an intriguing experience that I may repeat in the future because I felt like there was a lot more to discover.

A 341-page dissertation on left (from 1993), and on the right a 360-page dissertation from 2012.

With those introductory remarks out of the way, I’d like to provide some general macro-level comments about the nine dissertations I examined for this post.  The first notable feature of many of the dissertations was the inclusion of a curriculum vitae or CV.  Invariably, these are interesting time capsules of a sort.  Looking at where the writers were long ago in their personal journeys makes it easier to imagine a similar path forward for those of us studying at Fletcher today.

Some dissertations include an acknowledgments page, from which it is notable to see the personal connections and broad support required to complete any such project.  Often, the authors list out their closest colleagues from among their PhD cohort, and I can imagine those groups of former students studying, debating, and analyzing together in the same spaces in the Fares PhD Research Center under Blakeley Hall where our current crop of PhD candidates does the same thing.

Finally, it’s easy to notice that the physical bulk of dissertations has changed over time.  In years past, dissertations were printed only on the fronts of each leaf of paper, leaving the backs blank.  This made for some massive tomes, the shelves groaning under their weight.  More recently, as the available shelf space for Ginn’s green monster has dwindled, dissertations are now printed on the front and back of each page, making for far more slender volumes.

The cover of Dean Stavridis’ 1984 dissertation. Don’t try to check this one out!

Moving on to the three dissertations I want to examine in greater detail today, the unifying theme is that they were all written by current members of the Fletcher faculty or staff.  I am compelled to start with Dean Stavridis’s 1984 work, not only because he is the head honcho of the school, but also because of the unique marking on its front cover.  I would wager that it is one of the only, if not the only, Fletcher dissertation whose demand might warrant such a marking.

Dean Stavridis’s 1984 dissertation was entitled “Marine Technology Transfer and the Law of the Sea,” and it tipped the scales at an impressive 529 pages.  I’d say he was ahead of his time in seeing the intrinsic value of the Law of the Sea treaty and suggesting ways in which it could be improved to increase the chances of full Western (read U.S.) buy-in/ratification, but that wouldn’t be a surprise.  Our dean is characteristically ahead of his time on many issues, which I think we will eventually see in cyberspace and the idea of a new triad consisting of cybercapabilities, special operations forces, and unmanned platforms, among other topics.  Like me, Dean Stavridis attended Fletcher as an active duty military officer.

Next of the reviewed dissertations is Professor of Practice Michele Malvesti’s 2002 work, “Risk-Taking in Countering Terrorism: A Study of U.S. Presidential Decisions to Use Special Operations and Covert Action.”  Her dissertation is an examination of prospect theory as applied to decisions to conduct counterterrorism missions during the Carter and Reagan administrations.  An interesting note: Professor Malvesti went directly from completing this PhD to working on counterterrorism issues on the National Security Council Staff for five years and, as a result, she is an example of a great resource who has “been there, done that” at very high levels of the U.S. government.  I was fortunate to take her National Security Decision Making course last semester, and I found it to be very engaging.  Bridging the gap between the policy world and academia, the course is loaded with top-notch guest speakers, contacts of Professor Malvesti from her time in government.  Last semester we heard from the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the Assistant Washington Editor for The New York Times, and many more.  For those reading who will someday attend Fletcher, I highly recommend the course.

Last for today, a look at the 1998 dissertation of Professor Sung-yoon Lee, “The Antinomy of Divine Right and the Right to Resistance: Tianming, Dei Gratia, and Vox Populi in Syngman Rhee’s Korea, 1945-1960.”  It is an examination of the seemingly opposing forces of Confucianism and democracy in Korea during this period.  I am currently a student in two courses with Professor Lee and last semester I took another one of his courses.  (One of my concentration areas at Fletcher is Pacific Asia, and my dissertation research is related to China-North Korea relations, so it makes sense that I would take many of his courses, as he is one of American academia’s premier Korea experts.)  With the shifting relationship between the U.S. and North Korea throughout this academic year, it is not surprising that Professor Lee has been in great demand as a live commentator on numerous television and radio programs.  He records many of these from Fletcher’s world-class television studio, part of the Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World.

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Time’s ticking down!  Only two more days (today and Monday) of classes this semester.  Let’s meet more of the students whom the Student Council profiled recently.  Note that all of these students are in programs less represented in the student community.  As I think blog readers will know, the MA and LLM are one-year Fletcher programs.  The MAHA is a one-year program jointly offered by Fletcher and the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.  The MATA is our new program offered jointly with the College of Europe.  And the PhD in Economics and Public Policy is offered jointly with, and administered by, the economics department in the Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Rick Murray (MA program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am in the one-year MA program and focusing on security and strategy.  Having only two semesters here at Fletcher is really tough because there are too many great courses to choose from and whittling them down to just eight is a challenge!

What did you do before Fletcher?
I have been a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Navy for a little more than 11 years and will return to flying out at sea after graduation this May.

Where are you from?
As I know is the case with many Fletcher students, this question is complicated.  I am originally from Annapolis, Maryland but only lived there until age 10.  I spent the rest of my childhood in France (3.5 years), Switzerland (two years), Texas (one year), and finally Atlanta, Georgia for my final two years of high school.  People often assume one of my parents was in the military, but actually it was my father’s work in the mobile telecom industry throughout the 1990s that had us relocating so often.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
My favorite place is at the top of any ski resort (doesn’t matter where, so long as there is snow!).  A unique place I’ve been to was Tarifa, Spain with my wife a few years ago.  It’s a small town on the southernmost tip of Spain (just west of Gibraltar) and known for its fantastic wind surfing and hippie vibe that make it a pretty cool little spot in Andalucía.

Who are your favorite writers?
Hemingway and Steinbeck, but it’s been a while since I picked up any of their works.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My grandparents, all of whom are still alive and in their 90s now.  Each of them has had a big impact on who I am.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Becoming a Naval Aviator.  It was my goal ever since I was a very young child.

Which living person do you most admire?
My wife, Rachel.  I’ve thrown her a lot of curveballs in the 7.5 years we’ve been married, particularly the amount of time I’ve been absent and the frequency with which we’ve relocated.  Despite the challenges of being a military spouse, she’s been able to earn her graduate degree and professional license in clinical social work (a five-year process), build herself a successful and very diverse career, all while becoming a fantastic mother.  Her determination and commitment are absolutely incredible.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Juggling Fletcher’s workload with my two-year-old son running around has been tough.  But it offers me the opportunity to mix up my reading list with some different literature like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and other child favorites.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
I love the classroom discussion.  I haven’t been disappointed in any class I’ve taken.  The event programming has been amazing as well; the guest speakers are one of the best parts of the experience here.

Laura Schiemichen (MATA program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am a first-year in the Transatlantic Affairs (MATA) Program.  Next year I’ll be at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, riding along canals on bikes and learning all about the EU.  Boston has a special place in my heart, though 😊

What did you do before Fletcher?
I spent three years in Washington, DC, first working on anti-trust cases in economic consulting and then for the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  While I enjoyed the data work in my first job, consulting wasn’t for me.  I was much happier in the Monitoring and Evaluation department at MCC, where I worked on projects in Jordan, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Benin.

Where are you from?
I was born in Berlin, Germany and my family is now in Hamburg, but I moved every two years growing up.  I think of home as people, rather than a place.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I visited my best friend’s grandmother on her cattle ranch in Argentina some years ago and rode horses everyday.  It was a good excuse to get a cowboy hat.

Who are your favorite writers?
Cheryl Strayed/Dear Sugar.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My mom.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Performing at the Lyceum Theater (home of the Lion King musical) in London.  I joined a hip-hop dance team as a way to goof around and have fun, but the experience became so much more than that.  We practiced six days a week, became family, and worked towards our goal together.  We also goofed around…a little.

Which living person do you most admire?
Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton (Go Wellesley!)

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Time.  How to use it well.  How to get more of it.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
No grand moment here, just the everyday moments when I’m studying with a friend in the Hall of Flags, sharing snacks and coffee.

Girija Bahety (PhD program in Economics and Public Policy)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am pursuing a PhD in Economics and Public Policy.  It’s a new joint PhD program between the Economics Department and Fletcher and I am one of the first students in the program, which aims to bring economics into answering policy-relevant research questions.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked as a consultant/development economist for an international development consultancy firm called Oxford Policy Management in India and the UK for six years.

Where are you from?
New Delhi, India.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Leh and Ladakh Valley, India.

Who are your favorite writers?
Arundhati Roy, William Dalrymple, Haruki Murakami, Julian Barnes.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
I have been inspired by many women and men in life.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My independence.

Which living person do you most admire?
My parents.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Being a part of a new program that no one had heard of before and building relationships at Fletcher.

Ana María Pérez (LLM program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m doing the LLM.  It’s a one-year program for lawyers who want to specialize in international law.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I was Training Manager at the Latin-American and the Caribbean office of  J-PAL, the MIT Poverty Action Lab.  There I worked with different governments to evaluate and improve their social programs and public policies.  I was also volunteering with Amnesty International Chile, working especially with Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

Where are you from?
I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  But I must say that 1/3 of me is Chilean, given that I lived there for more than eight years.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Palestine.  I went there one year ago and it was a life changing experience.

Who are your favorite writers?
I love Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortazar.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My grandfather.  A Spanish man who crossed the Atlantic by ship when was a teenager, escaping from a civil war and looking for a better life.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Professionally, creating new things from scratch, such as a new national institution in Chile or the first Diploma in Impact Evaluation for J-PAL.  Personally, my enormous adaptation skills in life.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Time management.  I’m usually too optimistic planning how much time things are going to take me.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Many!  I have loved being at Fletcher since the first week, when you start meeting all the great people who are coming to this school.

Ahmad Shakeb (MAHA program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m in the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance program.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked for ten years with different humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan.  My last post was at UNOCHA, as a program officer, managing the Common Humanitarian Fund.

Where are you from?
Afghanistan.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Monterey, one of the most beautiful places in the U.S state of California.  I visited this place as soon as my winter break started.  It was special to me because one of my best friends (who is no longer in this world) had lived and studied there.  It reminded me of all the good stories and memories he had shared with me.  On top of that, I visited his fiancée, too, who goes to the same school where he had studied.

Who are your favorite writers?
Steve Coll and Husain Haqqani.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My late best friend, Naqib Ahmad Khpulwak. Despite all the hardship he had in his life, he achieved so much, ultimately becoming a professor at the American University of Afghanistan and the Rule of Law Manager at USIP-Kabul before the age of 31.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Working for the United Nations and getting into Tufts University.

Which living person do you most admire?
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the current President of Afghanistan.  With few resources, he has managed to do so much for our country.  Wherever he goes, he put peace and development at the top of his agenda.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Losing my best friend in the complex attack on the American University of Afghanistan.  When I learned about the attack, I promptly arrived in the area, but police had cordoned it off and didn’t let me go inside to help my friend.  I spent the whole night on the street outside of the university compound.  It took the police the whole night to rescue students and faculty.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
After my arrival in Boston, I was so homesick and was looking for another Afghan.  My most favorite moment was when I first met three other Afghan students all at once at the Hall of Flags.

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This morning I dashed over to another Tufts building where 100 or so high school students were attending a day of discussion and activities related to international affairs and Fletcher.  Organized by two second-year Fletcher students along with Professor Kim Wilson, in coordination with the teacher of the high schoolers, this annual event gives the kids a chance to gather ideas about what an international career might look like.

The kids come over from Boston Latin Academy, and their teacher is a Fletcher graduate, Jeff Isen, F04, who left Fletcher, headed out into the world (Malawi, Sri Lanka) and found his true calling teaching international relations to Boston kids.  Most of the visitors today are seniors — just about to head off to college.  They don’t necessarily intend to pursue international relations for their college studies, but I hope they’ll leave here with a sense of the opportunities that might be open to them.  My role was to try to give them just the right amount of information: not too little (we want them to understand what Fletcher is), but also not too much (after all, graduate school may be ten or more years in the future for them — and high schoolers are always sleepy).  Ten minutes later, I yielded to a Fletcher student panel who made the pathway from high school, to college, to work, to Fletcher and an international career seem just a little more real.

 

I’m having trouble believing it, but this is the last full week of classes for the spring semester, which wraps up on Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday will be study days before exams start on Wednesday.  With that in mind, it’s a good time to recap the academic pathways of our graduating student bloggers.  Today we’ll look at Adi‘s “annotated curriculum”  for his two years in the MIB program.  As you’ll see, an annotated curriculum is what it sounds like — a useful device we’ve developed for students to describe how they combined their courses and out-of-class activities during their studies at Fletcher.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
I managed external partnerships and public relations for CISDI, a social startup working on healthcare development in Indonesia.

Fields of Study
International Finance and Banking
International Political Economy

Capstone Topic
Strategic Positioning of Indonesia’s National Holding Company

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
I would like to merge my newly developed financial skills with my social development background.

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Global Investment Management
The Arts of Communication
Financial Statement Management
Strategic Management
Managerial Economics

Activities:
FSIG advisory project

A little more than two years since undergraduate does not sound like a long time, but in my first semester, I definitely needed an adjustment period to revive my schooling and student habits.  That is why I really enjoyed the Strategic Management course, which was a two-week Monday-to-Friday session before the fall semester actually started.  Corporate Finance was the highlight of my semester.  While there was no way for me to avoid taking it, since it’s a required MIB course, I truly enjoyed this first exposure to finance and it inspired my interest to learn everything about the topic.  Taking this course in the same semester as Investment Management and Financial Statement Management was not easy, but the courses complemented each other in deepening my financial knowledge.  Managerial Economics was a good refresher on my economics knowledge from undergraduate.  I also really enjoyed Arts of Communication.  I took it knowing that enhancing my public speaking skills could only do good for my personal and professional development, but I must say that the whole experience surprised me in how practical and hands-on the projects were.

Semester Two

International Financial Management
Global Financial Services
The Political Economy and Business Environments of Greater China
Marketing Management
Macroeconomics
International Financial and Fiscal Law

Activities:
FSIG due diligence project
Management of the Fletcher Finance Club, 2017-2018

My second semester was still filled with a lot of required courses for the MIB program, including International Financial and Fiscal Law, Macroeconomics, and Marketing Management.  I also had to pick a regional course, for which I decided to learn about China because of all the talk about China being a global superpower.  As it turned out, I did learn a little bit of everything about China, including its history, its relations with neighboring countries and regions such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, its industrial development, political set-up, and cultural matters.  Completing my course list for this semester were two classes with Professor Jacque, whom I had for Corporate Finance.  In International Financial Management, I learned about derivative usage, including hedging, speculating, and risk management.  For Global Financial Services, I explored different cases of financial disasters throughout history.  I decided to really double down on my finance training, to ensure that I could pivot into a career in the financial industry, either for my summer internship or after Fletcher, and thus these two classes were the highlight of my semester.

Summer Internship
Citibank in Jakarta, Indonesia

Semester Three

Large Investment and International Project Finance
Petroleum in the Global Economy
Processes of International Negotiation
Art and Science of Statecraft

Activities:
CFA Challenge
FSIG advisory team lead

After a first year full of required courses, I finally had some flexibility in choosing classes in my third semester.  My class on Petroleum was interesting because it discussed a topic that is connected to most issues, but which I have little exposure to or knowledge of.  Negotiation has always been one of the most recommended classes at Fletcher, and it definitely equipped me with practical knowledge that I can bring in future engagements, in both my personal and professional life.  Art and Science of Statecraft was the outlier of the semester, in that it was not business related, although its common theme on power can easily be implemented in a business setting.  Finally, I really enjoyed my Project Finance course.  The cases discussed were fascinating, ranging from talking about an aluminum mine in Mozambique all the way to building a new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys.  It was a class that brought everything together, from financial modeling to political risk and cultural awareness.

Semester Four

Political Economy of Development
Global Private Equity
Political Economy and Business Context of Latin America
Managing NGOs and Social Enterprises
Building Sustainable Cities and Infrastructure (HBS Cross-Registration)

Activities:
CFA Challenge (Regionals level)
TA, Public Finance – Tavitian Scholarship Program

And yes, here we are, the final semester.  Back when I was a first-year, it seemed strange when alumni and second-year students kept talking about how time flies, and yet it is true.  With most of my required courses out of the way, I took one final “required” course in Political Economy of Development to complete my International Political Economy Field of Study.  I managed to cross-register at Harvard Business School, taking a class on Building Sustainable Cities, which built a lot on the knowledge that I described in my Project Finance course the previous semester.  I registered for two half-semester module classes in Private Equity and Latin America, with Private Equity providing me with practical experience in managing a fund, and Latin America fulfilling my curiosity about a region that many at Fletcher are focused on, and yet I know little about.  Nonetheless, I would say that Managing NGOs and Social Enterprises is my favorite class at Fletcher so far, which is funny because at the beginning of the semester, this was the only class I did not plan to take.  The cases and concepts discussed in this class brought me back to my work prior to Fletcher, and generated ideas I hope I can implement someday.

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Enrollment decisions were due on Friday and we’ve heard from just about all the admitted applicants.  There are a few stragglers we’ll reach out to, and then we’ll assess where we are for each of the degree programs and for our scholarship budget.  Meanwhile, we’ve also been hearing from folks offered a place on the waitlist.  (As you know, not everyone wants to wait — they’ve gained admission to another program and they’ve decided to enroll, or they’ve made completely different plans for September.)  We’ll revisit that group, too, and get a sense of who’s waiting and for which program.

If you have told us that you’ll accept your place on the waitlist, you should send us (as soon as possible) any updates you’d like us to review.  We’re especially interested in new test scores, updated transcripts, a résumé that describes a new workplace or position or, really, anything that you want us to see because it makes you a better applicant.

All of that said, we don’t yet know whether we’ll be admitting anyone off the waitlist.  I can tell you that our goal is always to make admission offers as early as we possibly can, but I also acknowledge that, in some years, the process has dragged on a bit.  (Then, after keeping you waiting, we’ll ask for a quick response to an admission offer.  Doubly annoying, I know.)

I’ll try to provide updates over the coming weeks.  If you’re at a critical juncture in your own planning, feel free to email us and someone will get back to you with whatever information we’re able to share at that time.

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Continuing with this year’s new faculty feature, let’s read about the most recent research and professional activities of Fletcher’s professors.

Dyan Mazurana, Associate Research Professor, Research Director at the Feinstein International Center at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Along with Fletcher doctoral candidate Phoebe Donnelly, I recently published the international report “Stopping Sexual Assault Against Humanitarian and Development Aid Workers,” which has been influencing international discussions in countries around the world.  In the last few months, Phoebe and I have appeared in numerous media outlets, including: the Associated Press, BBC NewsNight, BBC 2 News, BBC News Channel, BBC Online, BBC Radio 5 Live, Belgium Public Television, Canadian Broadcast Corporation, CNN, Devex, France Television 24, The Guardian, International Public Radio, Fox News, Morning Wave Radio in Busan South Korea, NBC, Tufts Now, and more.  I have been consulted by numerous UN agencies and international NGOs providing humanitarian aid on this topic and am now serving as an External Expert for the UK’s Department for International Development on their work to strengthen safeguarding internally and with their partners.

I am also leading an international team of researchers working with lawyers representing over 2,000 victims in the Prosecutor V. Ongwen case currently before the International Criminal Court, at the Hague.  My team and I have been tasked to interview the victims to document they harms they and their households have allegedly suffered due to being a victim of one of three massacres the Lord’s Resistance Commander Dominic Ongwen is alleged to have ordered and participated in northern Uganda.  Our report’s findings cover a range of serious crimes, mental and physical health, food security, nutrition, education, livelihoods, and access to education, health care and water.  The findings will be presented by the team before the International Criminal Court in April 2018, where lawyers for the victims will argue the findings should influence the sentencing of Ongwen and reparations ordered by the court.  I have been carrying out research in northern Uganda since 2001.

Professor Mazurana’s profile.

Abiodun Williams, Professor of the Practice of International Politics

My new co-edited book The UN Secretary-General and the Security Council was recently published by Oxford University Press.

Professor Williams’s profile.

Patrick Schena, Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Business

The focus of my research bridges issues of global finance and public policy.  Most recently, a significant component of that work has involved sovereign and public investment funds.  Currently, my specific interest is on public funds that have a discrete mandate to invest in the national development and transformation of their home economies (often referred to as sovereign development or strategic investment funds).  My engagement includes both my own research and writing, as well as cooperating with multilateral (e.g. The World Bank) and transnational (e.g. the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF)) institutions on research projects and workshops in this area.  My recent publications on this theme include a co-authored article published in March 2017 in World Economics, a law review article published in Vol 4 (December, 2017) of the Wake Forest Law Review, and two forthcoming co-authored articles to appear respectively in Global Policy and the Harvard International Review.  I am also currently organizing a member workshop of the IFSWF in cooperation with the World Bank planned for June 2018 on focused sovereign funds and sustainable development.  My near-term projects extend the scope of this research agenda into the role of sovereign and public funds as responsible, long-term investors.

Professor Schena’s profile.  More information can be found on his SovereigNet page.

Rockford “Rocky” Weitz, Professor of Practice, Entrepreneur Coach, and Director of the Fletcher Maritime Studies Program

My research focuses on the public-private dimensions of maritime security.  Using The Fletcher School’s strength as an interdisciplinary research institution, I focus my energy on finding lessons from the private sector that can influence better public policy decisions and analyze challenges where the public and private spheres intersect.  An example of this is a forthcoming monograph on the lessons the U.S. Navy can learn from the private sector on retaining high-quality talent.  The Fletcher Maritime Studies Program fosters this interdisciplinary engagement among our students through experiential learning.  We sponsored 35 students and alumni to attend the annual Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland in October and bring in guest lecturers for our Global Maritime Affairs and Maritime Security courses.  We also expand our reach outside of academia.  I have been a frequent contributor on maritime issues with Asia Times and China Global Television Network.  Our students and staff are also publishing, including op-eds in hometown newspapers in Portland, Maine and southern New Jersey.

Professor Weitz’s profile.

Diana Chigas, Professor of Practice of International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
and Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, Professor of Practice in Human Security

Our current joint research focuses on understanding corruption in the criminal justice sector in fragile and conflict-affected states and finding new approaches to combating corruption effectively.  We are particularly interested in the use of systems thinking for analyzing corruption, understanding the role of social norms in sustaining corruption, and integrating this learning into policy and practice.  To develop a new analytic methodology, the project tested the systems-based approach in DRC, Uganda and Central African Republic.  The first version of the resulting analysis methodology is also available complete with interview guides and meeting agendas.

We are currently working on pieces on how to address social norms to fight corruption in fragile and conflict-affected states, and on the connection of corruption to peacebuilding.  We host a learning-focused blog series at the Institute for Human Security to challenge status quo thinking and foster a space for conversation between actors working in the field of anti-corruption in fragile states.  Diana is traveling to Berlin in April to share our research as part of a lab sponsored by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center in Norway to design innovative experiments that can help advance the anti-corruption agenda.  Cheyanne will be in Ottawa at Global Affairs Canada in April presenting the methodology as part of a wider training of civil servants on conflict and fragility.

Professor Scharbatke-Church’s profile.  She previously wrote a Faculty Spotlight post.
Professor Chigas’s profile.

David Wirth, Visiting Professor of International Law

Throughout this year, I have written and shared the results of my research widely.

In addition to publications and speaking opportunities, here are some recent media contributions:

Is the Paris Agreement on Climate Change a Legitimate Exercise of the Executive Agreement Power?” Lawfare. Brookings

While Trump Pledges Withdrawal from Paris Agreement on Climate, International Law May Provide a Safety Net,” Lawfare. Brookings.

Referenced in Anna Dubenko, “Right and Left React to the Paris Climate Agreement News,” The New York Times.

Trump’s First Foreign Trip and the Fate of the Paris Agreement: Reading the Tea Leaves from the G7 and NATO Summits,” Lawfare. Brookings.

Fulbright Scholar on Working and Living in Moscow,” Faculty of Law, National Research University Higher School of Economics website.

Professor Wirth’s profile.  More details can be found on his Boston College bio page.

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If you’re ever visiting Fletcher’s Ginn Library and you’d like to see something a little different than books, desks, and hard-working students, swing over to the Fletcher Perspectives Gallery.  There you’ll find a collection of student photography from travels near and far.

If you’re not going to be on campus or in the library any time soon, all of the photos, going back to 2016, can be found on the Perspectives website.

 

 

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Way back in the fall, an email snaked along to me and I reached out to the writer, Ammar Karimjee, a 2017 MIB graduate, to ask if I could publish it in the blog.  He agreed right away, so the delay in sharing it is all on me.  And yet with students entering in September 2018 still considering what this all means for them, and with the Class of 2018 searching for their own post-Fletcher jobs, I think Ammar’s post is instructive.  Note that the original recipients were staff and faculty associated with the MIB program and the Office of Career Services.  And, again, when Ammar refers to “a month ago,” he was reflecting on summer 2017, but I have confirmed with him that his work situation hasn’t changed.

About a month ago, I moved to Tanzania to begin work with One Acre Fund Tanzania (OAF) as an “Impact Ventures Associate.”  As many of you may know, OAF’s core model provides a range of products: better seeds and fertilizer, along with training — all provided as part of a reasonably sized loan to farmers across East Africa.  On average, farmers who work with One Acre Fund have yields that are 50-100% higher than similar farmers who do not.  In Tanzania, OAF works with about 30,000 farmers.

While the model has significant impact for farmers, growth is relatively slow because the work is very hands-on.  Each new community we enter has to understand the product, be trained, and see results only after a full growing season (or one full year).  To tackle that problem, my team is trying to understand other ways of approaching and impacting farmers that may be faster to scale than the model OAF uses traditionally.

My team is running a trial where we sell very small solar panels that provide off-grid electricity to farmers in the region.  Farmers see the result immediately, and over time, save significant money that they were previously using for other fuel sources.  More importantly, the product is much easier to roll out and does not require significant training.  The hope is that once we have achieved initial impact through this solar product, we can then use the relationships we have with farmers to offer them other products in the agricultural space — such as seed, fertilizer, etc.  We think that this may be a faster way (as compared to the core model) to create a bigger impact for a large group of farmers.

My specific role has two components: managing operations and managing impact.  I’ll be heading up all the logistics around our input distribution (warehouse management, quality control, distribution) for our 5000 farmers spread out over 50 villages.  Our two products at this stage are the solar systems as well as tree seedlings.  At the same time, I’ll be running a survey of about 900 treatment and control farmers observing the impact of both our products.  I’m currently managing a team of six people with two direct reports.  By April, those numbers will have grown to a team of around 20 and three direct reports.  I could not have imagined having this much responsibility — especially in terms of direct people management — just out of graduate school, but I am so excited and am already learning so much.  The best part is that my role will involve both impact evaluation and business planning/financial modeling, putting together both of my fields of study at Fletcher.

I also wanted to share a reflection with you all.  For the bulk of my two years at Fletcher, I thought I wanted my next job to be something that would serve as a stamp on my resume.  That’s why, as many of you know, I was looking at big consulting firms.  As you all probably gathered, I was never truly passionate about that work and I always knew it was a short-term stop on the road to doing something much different.

While I prepped for consulting and finance interviews and saw limited success, I continued to apply to positions I was more interested in, just to keep my options open.  I grew frustrated that I was consistently being unsuccessful in consulting/finance interviews, when I believed I was performing well.  I’ll never truly know why I didn’t get those jobs; however, looking back on the process, I have to believe that a large part of the reason is that it was obvious those roles were simply not a culture fit for me, and that came out in the interviews.

This summer, when my One Acre Fund offer came in, I was still waiting to hear back from a consulting firm about whether I would receive an offer for their Dubai office.  After lots of deliberation, I decided to take the OAF job without knowing the outcome of the other decision.  It meant a lot to me that I took the OAF offer not knowing about the other firm.  Perhaps I had this realization about culture fit a little too late, but I’m happy that I’ve had it now.

What makes Fletcher so unique is how many different interests and passions are represented at our school.  I think sometimes, especially with the MIB program, the need to do what we think is the “right career thing” overpowers the need to do what we truly want.  But there are too many people in the world who just go through the motions and try to check the boxes.  I find it incredible that Fletcher students, by and large, are not part of that thinking — and I’m very happy and proud not to have done that on an individual level either.

I know I’m rambling, but I hope that all of us can do more to help people fight for their true desires in their post-Fletcher jobs.  If any of you ever have a student struggling through the same dynamic I went through, please always feel free to put me in touch.

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