The Technological Revolution in Education
Showcasing the Fletcher School’s Global Master of Arts Program.
With the spread of online education options, the oldest graduate school of international studies in the United States, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy’s Global Master of Arts degree decides to place particular emphasis on the in-person experience, while allowing working professionals the flexibility of internet-mediated instruction. We sit down with Senior Associate Dean Deborah Winslow Nutter, and founding Director of GMAP about this intriguing program, which will be visiting Tallinn this August.
Why did The Fletcher School start the Global Master of Arts Program in the first place?
Deborah Winslow Nutter (DWN): GMAP started some 14 years ago, in 2000. At that time, we wanted to bring Fletcher’s rigorous academic grounding to those who could use it most: today’s thought-leaders and policy-shapers. However, these were the very individuals who could not afford to take time off to attend a full-time Masters. So we looked to marry the technology of the 21st century to our traditional forms of education. So you have GMAP: three in-person residencies, one of which is international, paired with 33 weeks of internet-mediated instruction. Our students graduate with a Master’s in International Affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the oldest professional school of international affairs in the United States. Because of our commitment to providing a flexible but challenging learning environment, we have transformed the hybrid degree from more than a degree of convenience, to one which is an immersive experience.
GMAP seems to attract more than the typical international affairs professional. Here in Estonia, you have alumnus in Andrus Alber, the President of AmCham Estonia whose background is in business and not in foreign service as one might guess for Fletcher. How is GMAP different?
DWN: GMAP is designed for the global executive, whether they are working in international business, finance, development, security, diplomacy, media or law. We put together classrooms of 35 students, with as diverse a group of students possible, and our curriculum equips our students with what we call a “360-degree perspective” on the world.
The GMAP Classroom is a remarkable place. It is virtual for most of the time, but filled with real people, making real change, in real places around the world. I have watched GMAP students and alumni doing some amazing things: One of our alumni is fighting cyberattacks on NGOs working in difficult environments. Another advises the Obama White House on cybersecurity matters. Others are leading post-disaster recovery efforts in the Philippines, fighting for human rights in Egypt, and advocating for peace in the Middle East.
In order to understand this complex global environment, it is no longer sufficient for us to specialize in international business, for example. Increasingly, a diplomat needs to understand international finance; a business executive has to comprehend international politics and security issues, and a soldier has to appreciate the challenges of international development. In Andrus’ case, he came to GMAP as an Economic Adviser to the President of Estonia in 2000, and has since worked for the IMF and been also the CEO of NASDAQ OMX in Tallinn. His career is typical for today’s global executive: you move to greater responsibilities which require you to understand the global trends and to ask the right questions. Thinking about the intersection of politics, security, trade, finance, energy in our world can be a profoundly overwhelming and destabilizing experience. But, as Andrus has described it, GMAP has enabled him to “find comfort in today’s truly globalized world”.
Why did you choose Tallinn for your international residency?
DWN: It was an obvious choice, and particularly interesting given the geopolitics of the region. Estonia’s proximity to Russia gives it a unique perspective on developments on this part of the continent. Moreover, Tallinn is the location of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence, and has led the world in thinking about internet security. This is one of the most current topics of the day, and in GMAP, our philosophy is that any leader must understand technology as critically as he understands the finance, and core business of his organization. Finally with incredible alumni, like Andrus Alber and Marina Kaljurand, a Fletcher graduate who serves as the Estonian Ambassador to the United States, supporting our residency, they have made Tallinn an irresistible destination for our students. I am sure the GMAP class that will spend 2 weeks this August in Estonia will fall in love with this incredible country.
GMAP will be visiting Tallinn this August for their midyear residency – and they are looking for more students from the region to join them at this location. More information on their program is available at http://fletcher.tufts.edu/GMAP