The Fletcher School at Tufts University in Massachusetts is to launch both a new degree programme and a research centre, thanks in part to the generous foundation donation of a Swiss businessman.

Thomas Schmidheiny’s $5m gift will be split between the two with the Master of Science in International Management receiving $3m and the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises the remainder.

Mr Schmidheiny says he was attracted to Fletcher because of its unique approach in understanding the social and cultural issues of other countries.

The two-year programme will take its first students in the autumn of 2008. Its aim is to prepare leaders with a global perspective. The first year will blend international management with a core business curriculum. Participants will study international law and politics, security and diplomatic history as well as environmental policy. The second year will offer a range of business electives.

Initially Fletcher hopes to have 25-30 participants but it is aiming for 40 within five years.

The centre – Ceme – will look at the study and application of best practices in emerging market enterprises, with conferences, reports, sponsored research and visits from senior business executives.

Ceme is central to the new degree programme, says Stephen Bosworth, Fletcher’s dean. Almost all Fletcher faculty will be able to do research in the centre as well as interact with visiting practitioners.

“The new centre and programme will give us a dimension that is aimed at the private sector but will also be of interest to the public sector,” he says.

International affairs will remain the backbone of the school, he adds. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy – its full name – was founded in 1933 and is the oldest graduate school of international relations in the US. In 2000 the school launched a Global Master of Arts Programme (GMAP). Prof Bosworth says it was in part that success that encouraged Fletcher to launch its new programme.

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