Thomas Burke, United States

Why a PhD at Fletcher? Although my reasons for choosing Fletcher are extensive, the most compelling reason behind my decision was the tremendous support and encouragement I received from the entire Fletcher team. While it is true that Fletcher’s unique interdisciplinary approach to learning and global reputation as a leading school of international relations weighed heavily in my decision, I learned early in the application process that Fletcher prides itself on being a community. As an active duty colonel in the U.S. Army, I understand well the importance of community and teamwork; these concepts are foundational to every successful organization. At Fletcher, students and faculty work together to deepen and broaden our understanding of the world, and of each other. In this cooperative spirit, I knew I would enjoy the flexibility to design a plan of study that aligns with my interests – precisely what I needed in a PhD program and one of the many reasons why I chose The Fletcher School.

On the curriculum: The flexibility of the Fletcher curriculum allows me to explore a range of disciplines that serve to further enhance my depth and breadth of knowledge on security-related issues. For example, to better understand the drivers of insecurity, it is necessary to study the nature of state and non-state actors, the effectiveness of international law and institutions in promoting peace, the impact of globalism on an increasingly interdependent world economy, and myriad topics and research areas that influence stability. At The Fletcher School, students are provided the flexibility to pursue new knowledge in any direction of interest. The flexibility of the Fletcher curriculum provides students with a wide range of research opportunities, no matter their primary fields of study.

Favorite movie:

Saving Private Ryan

Most rewarding trip:

Shortly after returning from Iraq in 2006, I joined my parents and a couple of my brothers for a two-week canoe trip into the Alaskan wilderness.

Moment when you felt the furthest from home:

Returning to Afghanistan from mid-tour leave in 2009 following the birth of my daughter, Claire.

Most memorable international experience:

In 2012, I was the Joint Staff member of the U.S. delegation sent to Kabul to finalize the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement. Although the meetings were contentious at times, we eventually settled on an agreement that both President Obama and then-President Karzai were able to sign. I was proud to be a part of that historic moment.

Most interesting person you’ve met at Fletcher:

Too many to count. The more people I meet and stories I hear, the more impressed I am with the Fletcher community.

Fields of Study

International Security Studies

Political Systems &Theories

Activities involved in at Fletcher

Fletcher Veterans

Education before Fletcher

MS, Policy Administration - Georgetown University

BA, English - St. John's University

Experience before Fletcher

AH-64D Apache Helicopter Battalion Commander - 3-101st Aviation Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Deputy Chief - Strategic Plans and Policy Division (Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell), The Joint Staff, J5, The Pentagon, Washington, DC

Battalion Executive Officer - 3-101st Aviation Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky