Fletcher Reads the Newspaper

Every day, the headlines cross borders of many kinds: those of countries, cultures, and disciplines. The MIB program seeks to make sense of those headlines for our students, using the rich pool of faculty and experts that we have at our disposal.

As a part of our “Fletcher Reads the Newspaper” series, we pick several hot news items each semester.  We gather an interdisciplinary panel of Fletcher experts to examine the issues, and from there invite students to approach the problem as they would a case study to offer solutions and strategies for dealing with the issues. All sessions are moderated by Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti as a joint problem-solving/consulting event with the objective of creating a set of practical recommendations for the relevant decision-makers: CEOs, political leaders, heads of multi-lateral bodies, NGOs, and entrepreneurs.

We invite you to read more about recent Fletcher Reads the Newspaper events.

Apple v. the FBI
Apple v FBI
Apple v. the FBI

The Headlines

Apple vs. FBI is Not About Privacy vs. Security -- It's About How to Achieve Both
Why Apple is Right to Challenge an Order to Help the FBI
Apple vs. the FBI is Really, Really Complicated

The Issue

Apple v. the FBI has been a headline-grabbing legal debate with potential legal and ethical ramifications for consumers and businesses. Where is the line between security and privacy? What kind of a precedent would this set for other businesses if the courts rule against Apple? Is Apple right to challenge the FBI?

The Experts

    Read the Full Event Report
    Will Business Help or Hinder The Paris Climate Agreement?
    Paris Climate Agreement
    World leaders reach historic climate agreement in Paris, France

    The Headlines

    The Role of Investors After Paris
    Paris Climate Talks: Powerful Business Lobbies Seek to Undermine Deal
    Open Letter from CEOs to World Leaders Urging Climate Action

    The Issue

    After years of meetings and negotiations, 196 nations finally came to a consensus to address climate change with the 2015 Climate Change Conference’s Paris Agreement. What remains to be seen is how, exactly, this is to be accomplished. Just as with the Sustainable Development Goals, business has a significant role to play in achieving the agreement’s objectives. But will these goals be reached because of business, or in spite of it? Will business ultimately help or hinder the process?

    The Experts

      Read the Full Event Report
      Cuba vs. Iran: Which is the Better Bet for Your Business?
      Iran-Cuba

      The Headlines

      Doing Business With Post-Sanctions Iran: Risks and Opportunities
      Investing in Iran? You'd Better Like Tea, Cake and Bureaucracy
      ‘Tripping over Wires’: The Risks of Doing Business in Cuba
      Cuba: The U.S. Entrepreneur's Next Best Frontier

      The Issue

      For the first time in generations, these isolated nations are to commercially re-engage with the US, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for international businesses looking to grow. But what will that look like? What are the unique concerns and advantages of a tiny island off the tip of Florida, versus a Middle Eastern power sitting on huge reserves of oil? How will their government’s react to a surge of foreign corporations doing business in their borders? Which is the better bet for your business?

      The Experts

      Read the full event report
      #InsertYourRevolutionsCalltoArmsandCatchyPhraseHere
      Tahrir Square
      Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt

      The Headlines

      #JeSuisCharlie: France's March of Unity
      Why Corporations Need to Pay Attention to #BlackLivesMatter
      Hashtags and Human Rights: Activism in the Age of Twitter

      The Issue

      The panel addressed the growth of social movements, grassroots-led revolutions, and how social media has transformed the branding and mobilization of these movements – both non-violent and violent. From #JeSuisCharlie to #BlackLivesMatter to the ISIS Twitter campaign, they aimed to examine these global phenomena through a uniquely Fletcher lens – namely, what is the business of social movements?

      The Experts

      Missed the event? Watch it here.

      The Entrepreneur and the Intifada
      Mohamed ElBaradei
      Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Fletcher Nobel Laureate-in-Residence

      The Headlines

      For Israel, Two-State Is No Solution
      Peace Through Profits? Inside the Secret Tech Ventures that are Reshaping the Israeli-Arab Palestinian World
      Time for a Brand New Site for Israel-Palestine Peace Talks

      The Issue

      As the centuries-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians endures, frustration grows with the failure of political and social actors to achieve lasting peace. Consequently, stakeholders are looking outside of conventional diplomatic channels for innovative ways to break the impasse. Commerce is one potential means for encouraging cooperation between the warring sides. In today’s interconnected world, what role do multinational companies play in diplomacy? Can stakeholders achieve peace through profits?

      Dr. Mohamad ElBaradei, Fletcher’s Nobel-Laureate-in-Residence, provided his expertise as a member of the panel, drawing on his experience as head of the IAEA as well as the critical role he played in Egypt through their recent years of political turmoil. Professors Eileen Babbitt and Nadim Rouhana also joined the panel, offering their perspectives into the political dimensions of the Israel-Palestinian conflict as negotiations experts.

      The Experts

      The Recommendations

      Student recommendations included:

      • Technology incubators and venture funds that invest solely in companies jointly founded by Israelis and Palestinians
      • Establishing educational exchange programs

      Read the full event report

      Is Nation Building Possible Without Business Building?
      Is Nation Building Possible Without Business Building?
      Left to right, FRTN panelists Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, Ibrahim Warde, Gerry Brown and moderator Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti

      The Headlines

      Investment Opportunities in Iraq
      Baghdad Fast Food Boom: American-Style Chains And Knock-Offs Proliferate

      The Issue

      Amid the scars of continued sectarian violence in Iraq there is a new player emerging in the streets of Baghdad: American-style fast food chains. KFC, Pizza Hut and other American fast food brands, so ubiquitous in many emerging market capitals, have been absent from this recent trend. Instead, the growing market is being driven by locally grown knock-off restaurants, including ‘Burger Friends,’ ‘Chili House,’ and ‘Florida Fried Chicken,’ to name just the few.

      Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, the former Iraqi National Security Adviser, joined Fletcher students and professors to discuss the challenges American businesses face in Iraq and the steps needed for companies like Yum Brand to open shop in the streets of Baghdad.

      The Experts

      • Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie: Fletcher Statesman in Residence, former Iraqi National Security Advisor
      • Professor Ibrahim Warde: expert on the socio, political and economic subtleties of the Islamic world
      • Gerry Brown: Institute for Economic Stability, The Gordon Institute; Director of Industry Revitalization for the Task Force on Improving Business and Stability Operations in Iraq at the Department of Defense
      • Moderator: Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti

      The Recommendations

      • Yum Brands and other American companies should focus on opening stores in the growing number of secure, Western-style malls in and around Baghdad.
      • The Iraqi government should enable and connect potential franchise owners to interested investors.

      Read the full event report

      Privacy and Security in the Age of Snowden
      NSA Headquarters - Fort Meade
      Photo credit: NSA.gov

      The Headlines

      Can tech titans really tackle the NSA over the Constitution?
      Twitter, Facebook and more demand changes to US surveillance
      Companies moving their technology overseas to avoid NSA spying

      The Issue

      What happens when cyber-security and the public and private sectors intersect? How do we find a balance between the need for intelligence gathering by governments and the implications for technology companies such as Google, Twitter, and Yahoo?

      Fletcher students and faculty gathered for a spirited discussion on the appropriate balance between privacy and security in the age of Edward Snowden, NSA surveillance, and societies increasingly built around the internet. Participants wrestled to both define the importance of privacy and security and propose meaningful responses for businesses most affected by controversial surveillance activities.

      The Experts

      • Professor Dan Drezner: Fletcher expert on geopolitics and policy
      • Professor Carolyn Gideon: Expert on communications and technology policy
      • Professor William Martel: Authority on issues of national security and particularly cybersecurity
      • Moderator: Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti

      The Recommendations

      Student recommendations included:

      • Giving individual users access to all of the information collected about them
      • Implementing broad public education initiatives to ensure all users are aware of what information may be collected about them and how to protect their privacy online

      Read the full event report

      The Rana Plaza Tragedy and the Supply Chain Implication

      Factory Collapse
       Photo credit: Flickr
      The Headlines

      Global retailers urged to compensate Rana Plaza victims
      Lapses in governance rife in Bangladesh garment factories
      Pressure on business to show more supply chain accountability

      The Issue

      In April 2013, the Bangladeshi garment industry, which is second only to China in manufacture of ready-made garments, made headlines for the death of more than 1,100 workers in the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory. The collapse, and others like it, have raised questions about the effects of hyper-competition in garment industry manufacturing and the extent to which global corporations have any insights into and, more importantly, control over safety in their global supply chains.

      The Experts

      The Recommendations

      Student recommendations included:

      • Establishing an independent trade body to help reform Bangladesh’s 2006 labor law, including provisions that would allow for greater unionization and bargaining power
      • Allocating greater responsibility to auditors in charge of inspecting garment factories
      • Creating a consortium of global retailers who will identify what the private sector can do to ensure tragedies like the Rana Plaza factory collapse don’t happen again

      Read the full event report.