Bapu Vaitla, India

 On the flexibility of the curriculum: As a PhD student, I have the unique opportunity to take courses that are well outside my areas of previous academic competence. Most universities want their PhD students to limit their interests and research to a very narrow field of inquiry. The Fletcher philosophy is different, based on the idea that exposure to multiple disciplines enhances the ability of students to think in creative ways about how to solve problems in any single field, and that wide fluency across key disciplines—law, political science, economics, history, and sociology among them—is a necessary quality of both innovative social science researchers and effective leaders.

Something that has surprised me about Fletcher: Both my undergraduate and master's programs were nominally interdisciplinary, but as a PhD student here at Fletcher I've been exposed to a greater depth of interdisciplinary collaboration than I ever have before. I'm constantly surrounded by future lawyers, diplomats, activists, soldiers, economists, and humanitarian workers—as well as others whose careers will defy simple characterization—and in this remarkably diverse environment I often find myself forced to completely reconsider my analysis of issues that I may have thought about for years, but perhaps never from (for example) a soldier's or a lawyer's perspective. It's a tremendously valuable learning process.

Fields of Study

  • Human Security 
    Development Economics

Education before Fletcher

  • MS in International Agricultural Development, University of California, Davis 
    BA in Nature and Culture, University of California, Davis

Professional Experience before Fletcher

  • Action contre la Faim/Action Against Hunger (Ethiopia, UK, India); 
    UNICEF (India); 
    The Ayacara Foundation (Chile); 
    University of California-Davis (USA)


  • Spanish;