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2022 Leaders in Graduate Education in International Affairs

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Tufts University, The Fletcher School

Training Future Leaders With an Ever-Evolving, Interdisciplinary Approach


Maribel Blanco, Executive Associate Dean, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

As the world becomes more complex, it needs leaders with broader training, says Maribel Blanco, executive associate dean at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

“What drew me [to international affairs] is a fundamental belief that our biggest problems are global and can best be solved by interdisciplinary approaches,” Blanco says.

She cites the impact of climate change on migration as an example. With enormous human migration changing the global landscape, diplomacy, once the purview of government officials, now involves nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and other sectors of civil society. “Leaders in business must understand global changes. Here, we train our students to pull from these different fields,” she adds.

We are constantly trying to evolve our curriculum to reflect the needs of our students, employers, and the world in this moment—and in the future.Maribel Blanco“Fletcher focuses on the ability to look ahead, to look around corners, to understand the complexities in solving today’s problems,” she says. The school remains nimble and “on the cutting edge,” Blanco adds, noting that in the 1960s it launched an interdisciplinary program in development studies, pioneered programs in international security and international business in the 1970s, in the 1980s focused on the environment and on negotiation and conflict resolution,  and in the late 1990s developed its program on human security. Twenty years ago, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Fletcher offered a hybrid master’s program with virtual classes for mid-career professionals.

In fall 2020, it began offering a joint master’s degree for cybersecurity and public policy. “We are constantly trying to evolve our curriculum to reflect the needs of our students, employers, and the world in this moment—and in the future,” she says.

To train future world leaders with the sort of cross-disciplinary knowledge needed to solve complex problems, the school offers the space to explore multiple areas. The flagship MA in Law and Diplomacy (MALD), for example, requires each student to choose two fields of study, while allowing electives in other areas. Students may select from a diverse collection of concentration fields, including law, business, technology, and the environment. This far-reaching, integrative approach empowers future leaders with the knowledge and experience “to contemplate really complex issues through multiple lenses,” Blanco says.

New Intensive Master in Global Affairs Puts Students’ Careers on the Fast Track

In the fall of 2021, Fletcher debuted a new Master in Global Affairs that can be completed in 16 months, rather than the usual two academic years. This intensive degree program targets students who are ready to take a deep dive, become experts in their area of specialization, and immediately pursue a career path in that area. The specializations range widely, including international negotiation and conflict resolution, sustainable development, and technology policy. The new degree includes a practicum and a summer internship for credit, and can be taken either full-time or part-time. For more information, please visit https://fletcher.tufts.edu/academics/masters-programs-residential/master-global-affairs.

Tufts University, The Fletcher School

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