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Educating Executives

Educating ExecutivesThe Fletcher School is carving a niche for itself by educating some of the world's leading corporations on the finer points of international relations.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.29.07] As the oldest graduate school of international relations in the United States, The Fletcher School has always been ahead of its time. Now, the Tufts school is expanding its educational mission by creating customized programs for organizations seeking a broader understanding of world affairs.

"The rationale for all of this is the perceived need for a greater understanding of the political, economic and cultural context within which these companies are operating," Fletcher School Dean Stephen Bosworth told Financial Times.

Initial clients include Microsoft, Raytheon and the nonprofit Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, all three of which approached The Fletcher School about designing curricula for them.

"If a company wanted to do better at running their core operations, then they can go to a business school for that, but they can’t get this understanding of the political and economic environment," Senior Associate Dean Deborah Nutter told the Times. "They’re not going to have successful international strategies without it. It’s a complicated, bumpy world out there."

At the organizations' request, Fletcher developed individual programs that met their specific needs.

Microsoft, for instance, requested a broad overview of the school's international curriculum in a program that is spread out over two years. Raytheon, in a three-day course, learned about the political and cultural issues to be mindful of while conducting business in the Middle East.

"In a business school setting, you’ll get a good idea of how to do business in a region, but you may not get an understanding of how to be aware of the culture," Paul Mongillo, director of regional operations east at Raytheon, told the Times. "It’s those softer skills that enable you to do business smartly."

Fletcher also runs the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP), which through both residencies and Internet-mediated learning educates mid-career and senior-level professionals who seek global leadership skills.

While both programs have been a boon for the school—additional executive education clients are being gradually recruited—Bosworth told the Times that The Fletcher School's core focus remains on its original mission of education in international relations.

"From the beginning, we have educated global leaders in all sectors," added Nutter.

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