Capstone Course

In the Global Affairs B.A. program, a hands-on capstone project replaces the senior thesis.

Global affairs seniors are required to take a capstone course. Working in small groups and overseen by a Yale faculty member, the students complete a public policy project on behalf of a client, which can be government agencies, not-for-profits, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private sector entities in the United States and abroad.

The program is designed to give our seniors hands-on public policy experience, and to give clients an opportunity to benefit from an independent analysis of an existing or prospective policy, initiative, or area of concern.

For each course, the Jackson Institute works with the client to formulate a project that is appropriate and mutually beneficial. Over the course of the fall semester, the students meet formally once a week with their faculty instructor, and work outside of class as necessary to complete their project. The students typically travel to the location of their client at the beginning or the end of the semester.

Questions on the capstone? Please contact Casey King, director of the capstone course.

Fall 2017 Capstone Projects

UN High Commission for Refugees

This Capstone will help evaluate the U.S. refugee resettlement program, assessing its successes and failures from the perspective of the UN’s Office of the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), U.S. government, non-government humanitarian assistance organizations, local authorities, and the refugees themselves. The case study will focus on a domestic resettlement host community and include a field assessment visit. Capstone seniors will present their findings to UNHCR, the State Department, and other interested parties. Questions include: What aspects of the refugee resettlement program work well? Are there achievable reforms that could improve the program? How can the program be made more transparent, collaborative, and valued?

International Organization for Migration

This Capstone focuses on human trafficking in migrant populations and studies the correlations between various disasters, migration and trafficking using a unique dataset supplied by International Organization for Migration (IOM). What is the impact of disasters and civil unrest on human trafficking? IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. With 166 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration. This study will be one of the first that analyzes and attempts to quantify the impact of natural disasters and civil unrest on human trafficking.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Fragile and conflict-affected countries have become a growing part of the development agenda, not least because of the impact of fragility and conflict on poverty levels, and vice versa. More than a billion people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict. The 50 countries on the OECD’s fragile states list are home to 43 percent of people living on less than $1.25 per day, potentially reaching 62 percent by 2030. Boosting economic growth and improving livelihoods in these markets is therefore essential. Working with the director of the SME Ventures Program, the capstone class will seek to develop a unified framework for measuring the “impact” fund managers participating in the program are trying to achieve. If successful, our capstone will provide IFC program managers with renewed look at the data captured and reported and policy recommendations for streamlining future reporting procedures to the benefit of both fund managers locally as well as to IFC program managers.

Clinton Health Access Initiative

Liberia, a small, low-income country in western Africa, has one of the lowest physician-to population ratios in the world, and only one medical school. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) works in close partnership with the Government of Liberia and the Liberian Minister of Health to strengthen medical education in Liberia, as part of a larger initiative to build a resilient health system post-Ebola.  This capstone class will work for CHAI, under the supervision of Professor Talbert-Slagle, to develop resources to support medical education in Liberia. The project will include exploring innovative financing schemes to cover the costs of medical education without passing fees onto students, novel mechanisms for generating revenue for the medical school, and utilizing creative pedagogical resources to enable delivery of medical curricula to students, even in the face of faculty shortages and limited technological infrastructure. Two students will have the opportunity to travel to Liberia with Professor Talbert-Slagle during the fall semester, due to generous funding support from the Jackson Institute and CHAI.


This capstone team will work with UNICEF to develop strategic options and mechanisms for UNICEF to stimulate innovation and timely delivery of vaccines against emerging pandemics. UNICEF is seeking to play a decisive role downstream of R&D, by “pulling through” products via mechanisms such as Advance Market Commitments and volume price guarantees, and by acting as a global procurement and supply agency for the new pandemic vaccines. Faced with this new opportunity and challenge, UNICEF is asking: what can we do to contribute to the overall mission of rapid development, stockpiling, and deployment of these new vaccines? What are our options, and how should we position ourselves over the next 1-2 years to play a major role as a complement to CEPI and other initiatives to stimulate the pandemic R&D pipeline? The Yale Capstone team’s assignment for UNICEF is to thus propose and analyze options for UNICEF involvement in this area, and to provide strategic recommendations to UNICEF on the best way forward in 2018.

Big Win Philanthropy

Reducing undernutrition requires a commitment from multiple stakeholders across sectors to coordinate and collaborate in the design, implementation, and monitoring of joint solutions to address nutrition. However, challenges lie both in what to do and how to do it, and early efforts at multisectoral collaboration were deemed too onerous. Capstone seniors from the Jackson Institute will work with Big Win Philanthropy to assess, analyse, and make recommendations to guide the design, implementation and monitoring of multisectoral collaboration for nutrition within the context of the Government of Ethiopia ‘Seqota’ Declaration.