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Leaders in Higher Education

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James Stavridis, Dean
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University


After serving as NATO’s supreme allied commander for four years, James Stavridis returned to his alma mater in 2013, as dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. At the time, he told FP Guide that one of the joys of coming out of uniform and into academia is that the academic world allows and expects you to take time to think.

He continues to value the opportunity for reflection.

“Today I am thinking about five big geopolitical challenges: cybersecurity, pandemics, North Korean nuclear weapons, the return of great power politics, and the continuing upheaval in the Middle East,” says Stavridis.

He also continues to assess how The Fletcher School’s curriculum can best respond to continuing global developments. “We have updated the curriculum for the 21st century in three crucial areas: cybersecurity and the role of social networks in shaping global events, the increasingly important role of women in international relations, and the merging of science and diplomacy in regions such as the Arctic and the world’s oceans,” he says.

Dean James Stavridis with students at The Fletcher School

These developments are addressed in a number of this year’s courses, such as “Privacy in the Digital Age,” “Women in National Security,” “Science Diplomacy: Environmental Security in the Arctic Ocean,” and “Social Networks and Organizations.”

The Fletcher School’s programs are both academically rigorous and professionally relevant. The school’s largest degree program is the Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD), a two-year, highly flexible interdisciplinary degree in international affairs. The Master of International Business (MIB) is a hybrid degree that combines a flexible international affairs curriculum with core business courses. The school also offers joint degrees as well as programs for mid-career professionals, including the 12-month Global Master of Arts (GMAP), which combines three intensive two-week residencies with extensive internet-mediated study.

Students gain breadth of knowledge through coursework from across the school’s three divisions: International Law and Organizations; Diplomacy, History and Politics; and Economics and International Business. To develop depth of knowledge in their chosen area of interest, students select one or two concentrations from 24 fields of study or a self-designed field.

The broad preparation of Fletcher School graduates is reflected by the diversity of their career paths, which are about evenly divided among the different employment sectors. About one-third pursue work in the public sector for their national governments; another third enter business or international finance; and an additional third pursue work in international organizations such as the United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross, and others.

Stavridis earned his MALD degree in 1983 and Ph.D. in 1984 from The Fletcher School and spent more than 30 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of four-star admiral. Among several key leadership positions, he led the Navy’s premier operational think tank for innovation, Deep Blue, immediately after the 9/11 attacks. As NATO’s 16th supreme allied commander, he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and the Balkans, and led efforts to thwart piracy off the coast of Africa.

Stavridis is a leading voice of our times. He shares his thoughts on major global issues as a frequent commentator on major news networks, in speaking engagements, and on the social networks, where he has tens of thousands of connections. He has also written articles appearing in hundreds of leading publications and has published eight books. One of his two books published in 2017 is The Leader’s Bookshelf: 50 Books That Make Us Better Leaders.

“I remain very optimistic about democracy in the United States. Given the rise of social networks, it will have a more populist feel than in the past, but it will over time return to the center; that is the history of the nation. I am less optimistic about the future of the two political parties. They have allowed extreme elements to dominate their proceedings, and they need to deliver more balanced candidates.” –James Stavridis, Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

In 2016, Stavridis was vetted for vice president by Hillary Clinton and subsequently invited to Trump Tower to discuss a cabinet position with President-Elect Donald Trump.

Impressive as his accomplishments might seem, it is the Fletcher students who most impress Stavridis. “Every year I see bright, ambitious, and idealistic students—about 300 of them each fall—and the quality of their work continues to stun me,” he says.

Graduate Degree Program Options:
• Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD)
• Master of International Business (MIB)
• Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs (MATA)
• Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP, mid-career)
• Master of Arts (MA, mid-career and senior-level professionals)
• Master of Laws in International Law (LLM)
• PhD and joint degree programs

Visit the Request Info page to receive information from the schools.