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The Fletcher Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy is a multi-faceted initiative involving faculty and students at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


The Initiative combines curricular offerings and an invited lecture series featuring scholars, policymakers, and practitioners who are engaged at the intersection of religion and international relations. It aims to:

  • Provide a framework for interdisciplinary study and practice of international affairs through the lens of religious literacy;
  • Create spaces to challenge assumptions and enhance understanding about the role of religion in the varied discourses at the Fletcher School;
  • Develop these competencies through an annual Fall conference and annual speaker series.



Upcoming Events

Crisis in Afghanistan: Repercussions for Russia, China, and Central Asia

Please join the Russia and Eurasia Program and the Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy at The Fletcher School for a virtual panel discussion about the security implications of the ongoing Afghanistan crisis for Russia, China, and Central Asia. The event will be chaired by Professor Elizabeth Prodromou. Please make sure to register via myFletcher to participate in the event on Zoom.

Thursday, September 23 | 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM ET
Register via myFletcher

Crisis in Afghanistan: Repercussions for Russia, China, and Central Asia Event Logo


  • What are the security implications of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan for Central Asia? What approaches are Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan taking in response to the refugee outflow from Afghanistan? Are there heightened concerns across Central Asia about Islamist radicalization and sectarianism?
  • Will the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan intensify the linkages between religious terrorism, authoritarianism, and illicit activities, such as narcotics, arms, and human trafficking, in the region? Will the Taliban government gain international recognition?
  • What risks and opportunities does the Afghanistan crisis present for Russia and China? Are the Taliban’s relations with Pakistan and Iran relevant for the security calculus of Russia and China? How will they provide security in the region? Will they play more prominent roles in Afghanistan to fill the void left by the withdrawal of the United States?
  • Does the new security situation encourage closer cooperation among Russia, China, and the countries of Central Asia? What role will the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation play in promoting regional security?



Niva Yau Tsz Yan is a Researcher at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and a Fellow at the Eurasia Program of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. Her work focuses on China’s foreign policy, trade, and security in its western neighborhood, including Central Asia and Afghanistan. She has conducted a number of commissioned research on China affairs in Central Asia, concerning security engagement, private security companies, Belt and Road Initiative, governance export, influence campaigns, renewable investments in Central Asia, and more. Originally from Hong Kong, Yau has been based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan since 2018, she is a native speaker of Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and she is a learner of Russian.


Nargis Kassenova is Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Central Asia at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University) and Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Regional Studies of KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan). She is the former founder and director of the KIMEP Central Asian Studies Center (CASC) and the China and Central Asia Studies Center (CCASC). Kassenova holds a Ph.D. in International Cooperation Studies from the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University (Japan). Her research focuses on Central Asian politics and security, Eurasian geopolitics, China’s Belt and Road Initiative and governance in Central Asia, and the history of state-making in Central Asia. Kassenova is a member of the Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Eurasia Program, the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Europe and Central Asia Division, the UN High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs, the Advisory Group of the EU Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) program, and the Academic Council of the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC). She is on the editorial boards of Central Asian SurveyCentral Asian Affairs, and REGION: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia journals.


Maxim Suchkov is Senior Fellow at the Laboratory for International Trends Analysis and Associate Professor at the Department of Applied International Analysis at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) of the Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He holds a number of non-resident expert affiliations in Russia and abroad. He is an expert of both the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and of the Valdai Discussion Club, an associate research fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), and a non-resident scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute (MEI). A graduate of Pyatigorsk State University, in the past he was a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at Georgetown University (2010-2011), Visiting Fellow at New York University (2015), and adjunct professor at the IE University in Spain (2020). He was also the editor of Al-Monitor’s Russia-Mideast coverage (2016-2020). Suchkov is a member of two working groups on U.S.-Russia relations. His research interests include security and foreign policy, future conflicts, U.S.-Russia relations, developments in the Middle East as well as the impact of technology on international relations. Suchkov is a frequent contributor and columnist to Russian and international media. His commentary and analysis appeared, among others, in The Washington PostThe Wall Street JournalThe Guardian, the Associated Press, and The American Interest.


The Fletcher Russia and Eurasia Program is dedicated to teaching and research on a broad range of historical and contemporary issues related to Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Its mission is to educate future scholars and practitioners, generate cutting-edge scholarly analysis, and foster cooperation with institutions across the region.