Currently viewing the tag: "Maritime Studies"
I was walking outside the building at about 4:00 yesterday and saw a cluster of students huddled around suitcases.  They were in the first stages of their trip to Iceland for this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly, the world’s largest gathering of Arctic-oriented policy makers, business people, and other stakeholders.  The Fletcher contingent, including students, faculty, alumni, and staff members, is organized by Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program, in collaboration with Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, Science Diplomacy CenterInternational Security Studies Program, LLM Program, Institute for Human Security, and Institute for Business in the Global Context, as well as Pan-Arctic Options and the Institute for Global Maritime Studies.  Having so many different organizations on board means that students were able to have their participation subsidized with a travel stipend, in hopes (expectation!) that Fletcher would (for the third year in a row) bring the largest non-Icelandic academic delegation to the Arctic Circle Assembly.

A key link between Fletcher and the Arctic Circle Assembly is Fletcher alumna Halla Hrund Logadóttir, F11, who is organizing the Arctic Innovation Lab component of the Assembly.  According to the Fletcher trip organizers, the Arctic Innovation Lab is a platform to bring young and entrepreneurial thinkers into the Arctic debate to help solve its myriad social, economic, and political challenges.  Each participant gets two minutes to pitch an idea, which can be related to anything, but the focus is on sustainable solutions, and then students participate in round-table discussions with experts on their idea.  The top three ideas will be selected as winners by the event organizers.I always feel an ongoing connection to students whom I meet before they apply.  Way back in (probably) 2008, I interviewed Halla before she applied to Fletcher.  It’s very satisfying for me to see the relationship she has built with current students and staff.And Fletcher’s connection to the Arctic won’t end with the Arctic Circle Assembly.  In February, students will organize the seventh annual Fletcher Arctic Conference.

Here is a short video that shows images from last year’s Arctic Circle Assembly and Arctic Innovation Lab and an article on the ideas presented at the Arctic Innovation Lab.  Of course I don’t yet have photos from this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly, but you can follow along on Twitter as Fletcher participants post their observations and the organizers tweet about each day’s panels and events.

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Returning to the Class of 2016, sometimes an update on a Fletcher graduate also captures information on one of our programs.  Although it’s a tiny percentage of graduates who find a post-student life here, some do.  And one of those is Matthew Merighi, F16, who for the past year has been the Assistant Director of Maritime Studies at Fletcher.

I never expected to end up working with Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program (MSP).  My original plan was to attend Fletcher and use my degree to go back into the U.S. federal government.  But obviously, Fletcher had an effect on me.

Before coming to Fletcher, I was a civilian employee in the U.S. Air Force’s International Affairs Office.  I worked as a liaison with other air forces, as an executive officer for a one-star general, and a tradeshow director for a member of the Senior Executive Service.  I came to Fletcher planning to study security studies to deepen my knowledge of the field before going back into public service.

The breakthrough came when taking Professor (now Emeritus) John Perry’s Maritime History and Globalization course in the fall of 2014.  No one who took a course with Professor Perry has ever forgotten it.  He was a fantastic lecturer and he presented the maritime domain in such a compelling way that I was hooked.  I worked for him as a research assistant and continued to take courses under Professor Rocky Weitz, F02, F08, MSP’s current director, when he came back to Fletcher in 2015.

MSP’s real strength is its interdisciplinary approach, linking security, business, environment, and law.  It added a salt-water perspective to how I view the world and forced me to think about international issues in a holistic way.  As an example, the introductory course in the field, Global Maritime Affairs, touches on a broad array of topics ranging from military buildups in the South China Sea to the ecological threats facing global fisheries and the economics of the shipping industry.  To be an effective maritime policy expert, you need to be literate in all of the dimensions of those challenges, rather than narrowly focused on a single specialty.

For my part, I feel very fortunate to be where I am.  Maritime studies as a field is quickly going from a niche topic to a cornerstone of policy and business.  Whether it is understanding the Arctic, climate change, or global trade patterns, having a maritime perspective is a key distinguisher for would-be practitioners.  MSP is also working on original research into cutting-edge maritime security issues, expanding its offerings of both academic and professional events, and supporting student projects in all maritime fields.  Outside of Fletcher, I also am building a nonprofit startup, Blue Water Metrics, to crowdsource data-gathering on ocean health as part of a Fletcher co-founding team.  Being a part of a new venture, alongside my work with MSP’s efforts to train the next generation of maritime leaders, is truly an honor.

(The video below is Matthew’s talk from the Fletcher Ideas Exchange.)

Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program has experienced a burst of adrenaline in the last year or so and is offering students extra opportunities for experiential learning.  The program kicked off its offerings in September with a short road trip to New Bedford and Fall River, MA — two towns south of campus with rich maritime histories.  The group visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Fall River’s Battleship Cove, home port for the several U.S. Navy vessels, and professors on the trip offered their perspective during pre- and post-lunch talks.

The director of the Maritime Studies Program, Professor Weitz, pointed out that:

The field trip’s relevance is obvious for Fletcher students focused on security studies, environmental policy, clean energy, technology, international law, and global maritime affairs.  New Bedford is America’s #1 fishing port by value and currently investing in infrastructure to become America’s #1 port servicing the offshore wind energy industry.  Counter-intuitively, the venture capital business model was invented in New Bedford in the 19th century to finance the hugely profitable but highly risky whaling industry.  This business model spread worldwide and remains relevant for today’s entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, and impact investors.

Venturing a little further than a road trip would take them, the program is planning a January research trip to Oahu, Hawaii, focusing on global maritime security challenges, ranging from traditional naval diplomacy and maritime boundary disputes in the South China Sea, to environmental security challenges facing the Pacific Ocean.

MALD graduate Sea Sovereign Thomas, F02, is stationed in Oahu at the U.S. Marine Corps base, and is helping to arrange meetings at Pacific Command, the Asia Pacific Center for Maritime Security, and the Daniel Inouye National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research center.

And then, during spring break, the program will head to Panama & Colombia.  This research trip is still in the planning stages.

In addition to the trips, the news for this year is that the program has staffed up.  Matthew Merighi, F16, and Caroline Troein F14, have joined Professor Weitz as new assistant directors of the program.  In addition, the program has created an advisory board to offer additional guidance.

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While the rest of us enjoy a long weekend in the local area, a group of students, faculty, and staff are in Reykjavik, Iceland for the annual Arctic Circle AssemblyProfessor Rockford Weitz, who heads the Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program describes the Assembly as “the world’s largest gathering of Arctic-oriented policy makers, business people, and other stakeholders.”

This is the second year that Fletcher has participated, and our students, professors, staff members, and alumni represent the largest non-Icelandic academic delegation at the Assembly.

Here are the details, courtesy of Professor Weitz’s email in which he invited students to apply to participate:

The opening Arctic presents a myriad of interdisciplinary challenges and opportunities that demonstrate the unique value of a Fletcher education.  No other graduate school could prepare you to understand the truly interdisciplinary nature of the geopolitical, diplomatic, scientific, environmental, sustainable development, national security, international law, macroeconomic, global trade, technology, shipping, energy, migration, human security, and international business implications of an opening Arctic.  Here’s the Arctic Circle Assembly’s program.

The Fletcher-organized panels are:

♦  Rethinking Shared Interests in Arctic Oil and Gas: Can We Actually Manage More Effectively?, Professor Bill Moomaw
♦  Reimagining the Arctic as the World’s Data Center, Fletcher Institute for Business In the Global Context Research Fellow Caroline Troein, F14
♦  BlueTech Innovation for a Sustainable Arctic, Fletcher Maritime Studies Program
♦  Status of Earth Observations in the Arctic, Professor Paul Berkman
♦  Arctic High Seas: Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean, Professor Paul Berkman

As you can see, Fletcher has deep expertise in Arctic topics.  In addition to Fletcher’s contributions at the Arctic Circle Assembly, Fletcher students will be organizing — for the sixth year in a row — the Fletcher Arctic Conference on Saturday, February 18, 2017.  It’s always a great event and conveniently located right here in Medford.  Please mark your calendars!

I meant to publish this post yesterday (Thursday), but my reward for procrastinating is a photo of the Fletcher delegation, courtesy of second-year MALD Angga.

Arctic

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