By Anthony Kleitz
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the MacJannet Fletcher Fellows, a groundbreaking academic exchange program between Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and what is now the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. What was then the first student exchange program for both institutions is today the world’s oldest graduate international exchange program.
Both graduate schools were already pioneers in their field: Fletcher is the oldest graduate school of international studies in the U.S., while the Geneva Institute is the oldest in continental Europe. But during the ensuing half-century, both Fletcher and Geneva have added numerous other exchange programs with other institutes, building on the increasing recognition of the role that such exchanges can play in a globalizing world.
The program began as the brainchild of Donald and Charlotte MacJannet, who, having lived through two world wars, recognized the importance of fostering international education and understanding in the second half of the 20th century. Given their personal attachment to Tufts (Donald’s alma mater) and to Geneva (where the couple had lived since the early 1950s), the idea for an exchange program between these two prestigious graduate schools appealed to them immensely. They provided Fletcher with a founding grant to initiate the exchange program, and they attended the Fletcher School graduation in May 1967 to help kick off the program, personally meeting the four Fletcher students (myself among them) who had been selected to study at the Geneva Institute for the academic year beginning that fall.
As I can personally attest, the MacJannets mentored those four students with warmth and kindness during their year in Geneva, as they did during their lifetime for all following participants in the program. And although Donald died in 1986 and Charlotte in 1999, an endowment they created continues to support Fletcher’s international exchange programs as well as European students studying independently at Fletcher to this day.
From its auspicious beginning, the Fletcher-Geneva exchange program has continued and evolved. Over the past 50 years, some 200 students have participated, complementing their education at either Fletcher or Geneva with study and living at the other institution. How did this experience affect them? The reminiscences of the four original Fletcher Fellows may be instructive.