Objective 2 – Reputation: bolster the School’s reputation by increasing research productivity and impact on decision-makers

Context: Research is an integral part of the mission and reputation of the School. It is important for its own sake, for its contribution to teaching, for advancing the practice of international affairs and for attracting the finest scholars, scholar-practitioners, and students to Fletcher. Additionally, research makes Fletcher the “go-to” place for solutions to some of the most pressing challenges faced by governments, business, international bodies and non-governmental organizations. It also supports Fletcher’s fundraising objectives by attracting donors who seek to have an impact in the world. Research conditions for new faculty have improved in recent years, as have mechanisms for communicating the research accomplishments of all faculty to external audiences. But more should be done.

Centers play an important role in enabling research activity. They provide key administrative support for grants management and research dissemination, serve as a platform for multi-disciplinary collaboration and knowledge-sharing among scholars and practitioners, and create research opportunities for students. While our centers, institutes and programs engage in a range of activities, this section focuses on their research function and contribution to the School’s thought leadership.

Professor Jenny Aker speaks to the research centers:

The most active research centers at Fletcher are the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP), the Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC), the Institute for Human Security, the World Peace Foundation, and the Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs. The Fares Center, long a flagship of our Middle East program, has just hired a new Director. Fundraising for the Murrow Center is currently underway with the goal of expanding its public diplomacy mandate to include communications defined more broadly.

Strategy: Better enable faculty members to pursue research by increasing time available, building infrastructure that facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration and provides fundraising support, improving communications around faculty research and accomplishments, and more actively engaging PhD and master’s students in research projects.

Approaches and Action Items:
1. The School will develop Fletcher research centers.

a. The School will continue to develop centers as vehicles for inter-disciplinary research, dissemination of outputs to decision-makers and the broader public, fundraising, and administrative support. In developing research programs, the centers will be encouraged to involve all interested faculty who have relevant expertise. They should also strive to create research opportunities and provide funding for students, especially those in the PhD program.

b. The School will review existing centers and consider establishing new research centers in areas where faculty strength corresponds with external demand, such as cyber/digital, global governance, and international economic policy. More generally, the Academic Groups will consider whether and how to better align the research centers with the interdisciplinary clusters embodied in the groups.

c. The School will draw on the new grant-writing and grants administration capacity in the Tufts Office of Research Administration. This will be a resource both for our research centers and for individual faculty not associated with a center.
2. The School will better-enable faculty members to pursue research.

a. The School will reduce the standard teaching load to three courses per year for tenure-stream faculty in order to free up time for research. We estimate that tenure-stream faculty will collectively teach approximately 15 fewer courses per year as a result of this reduction. The Academic Council will strategically select the courses to be dropped from the curriculum in consultation with individual faculty members, taking into account such factors as student demand and course evaluations. In addition to providing faculty members with time to pursue research, the teaching load reduction will also reinforce the School’s effort to streamline the curriculum, as discussed in Objective 1.

b. The School will introduce a hybrid funding model for summer research support (part budget line item, part residual), which could include research assistant support and travel funds.

c. Fletcher will provide more non-monetary incentives and recognition for research. This may be implemented through an annual research award, sponsored book talks, opportunities to address alumni groups on topics related to faculty research, and features on the website and in communications materials. The inaugural annual research award will be given in 2015.

d. As a priority, Fletcher will foster research collaboration with other parts of Tufts. Candidates for collaboration include the Tufts Innovation Institute, Tufts faculty members working on business innovation in engineering and entrepreneurship, and Tufts faculty members working in the area of public health.

3. The School will continue to develop mechanisms for promoting and publicizing research through the website, centers and other channels. In spring 2014 Fletcher launched a new webpage on faculty research, which is perceived as a step in the right direction for better communicating faculty work and accomplishments. Improving this is a priority.

Professor Dan Drezner explains the plan to bolster the School’s reputation:

4. Fletcher will build an on-site broadcast studio for television appearances and video recording. Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2015. The studio will lower the barrier for faculty engagement with the media, amplifying faculty voices on the key issues of the day and raising the profile of individual faculty members as well as of the School.