Fletcher celebrates 75th anniversary with remarks from German ambassador
Published: Monday, October 27, 2008
Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 11:10
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy celebrated its 75th anniversary with an on-campus ceremony on Friday featuring reflections from faculty and alumni on the importance of interdisciplinary work in today's fragile global setting.
"In these troubled times, you have to benefit from going to a good school and learning across faculty lines … in a setting where you have not only your fellow citizens, but people from all over the world," Klaus Scharioth (F '74), the German ambassador to the United States, said in his keynote address in Cabot Auditorium.
Scharioth went on to present the "shortlist" of the global challenges he feels are most pertinent today. He focused on the financial crisis, nuclear disarmament, terrorism, failed states, climate change and energy independence.
He stressed the importance of having nations work collaboratively before they act, and said that the world community is facing conflicts that any single country cannot solve alone.
"We have to develop a different culture," Scharioth said, "where we get together before we make decisions in our governments. We don't do that so far, but I think the challenges which lie ahead make it absolutely necessary that we change our ways."
Also in celebration of its anniversary, Fletcher hosted a gala two weeks ago at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., bringing together alumni from around the world.
Fletcher was founded in 1933 as the first graduate school in the country devoted solely to international affairs.
Fletcher School Dean Stephen Bosworth, who offered the Friday ceremony's introductory and closing remarks, described the school's founding at the height of the Great Depression as "an act of great hope in a time of popular despair."
Bosworth said that as it celebrates its 75th anniversary, Fletcher is facing economic distresses similar to those it battled at its inception. "And yet today, just as then, there is reason, even more reason, to be hopeful and confident," Bosworth said.
Scharioth said the financial crisis has shown how important international organization, oversight and transparency are in today's global economy.
He added that good governance that respects the rule of law, human rights and the market economy are critical to finding a solution.
"It's a perfect example to show that really nothing in this globalized world is a national problem," Scharioth said. "So we need a global answer."
Fletcher Professors Joel Trachtman and John Perry followed Scharioth's address with their own reflections.
Perry, praising Fletcher's continuous commitment to interdisciplinary learning, was disappointed that history, which he described as knowledge essential to international affairs, only makes up a small part of the school's curriculum. Drawing a standing ovation, Perry pushed for adding more history courses to Fletcher's curriculum.
"The prevalent crises provide a stinging reminder of the perils of not learning from the past," he said. "Successful stewards of the future must be schooled in the lessons of the past."
Delivering the ceremony's student remarks, Dahlia Shaham said she believes Fletcher's founders would be proud of its diverse, free-thinking student body.
"We can't limit ourselves to one disciplinary boundary," she said. "The wealth of perspectives is literally a breath of fresh air."