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 2018 Capstone Projects

US Army Special Forces

The goal of this class is to assist the “client,” United States Special Operations Forces (USSOF), with the broad challenges faced in Africa.  USSOF are often called upon to build partner nation capacity through both operations and institutions, counter the spread of violent extremist organizations like ISIS and al Shabaab, assist in humanitarian efforts in conjunction with US State Department and US AID, and respond to emerging crisis events.  Across all African countries, the activities conducted by USSOF must be coordinated with, and complimentary to the strategies and policies of the US Government. We study the national interests of the US in Africa, and the policies and strategies guiding the actions of USSOF in Africa.  We will explore the following: Are the actions of USSOF in Africa consistent with the policies of the US?  Will the actions of USSOF in Africa meet the intended Ends proposed by US policy?  Is there a gap between US Policy in Africa and the actions of USSOF in Africa?  What aspects of US policy in Africa are unaddressed by USSOF and what actions should USSOF take to correct these?  The “client” will ideally walk away from the project with a full review of the US national interests in Africa, a thorough summary of whether the intended Ends, will be met by the applied Ways and Means, and recommendations for future military programs to be implemented by USSOF in Africa.  

Office of Naval Research

We are at an inflection point in our ability to understand the interaction between ideas and actions, brought about by the convergence of increasing social interaction on the internet and advances in data analysis capabilities. The Center on the Future of War has defined “weaponized narrative” as a tactical and strategic method for undermining an opponent’s “civilization, identity and will.” “Done well, it limits or even eliminates the need for armed force to achieve political and military aims.” While information warfare is not a new concept, the use of persuasion and influence as warfare techniques are increasingly acknowledged as important techniques employed by governments and organizations that pose threats to U.S. interests. Yet, U.S. and allied or partner nations/organizations do not always (a) communicate as strategically and effectively as they could, and (b) properly measure effect, or outcomes, of their communications campaigns.  ONR is engaged with U.S. Government agencies and global partners actively messaging on a variety of topics relevant to U.S. interests with the goal of informing and testing new methods for effective influence. Students would have the opportunity to track these experiments as they are happening in real time in a social media environment over the course of the semester and analyze results to inform new work in this space.

The United States Pacific Command

USPACOM encompasses about half of the earth’s surface, from the west coast of the United States to the western border of India – few regions are as culturally, socially, economically, and geopolitically diverse as the Indo-Pacific.  USPACOM is one of six geographic commands, and the Commander is the senior U.S. military authority in the Pacific Command Area of Operations (AOR), reports to the President of the United States through the Secretary of Defense and is supported by four component commands: U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Army Pacific, and U.S. Marine Forces Pacific.  Approximately 375,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel are assigned to the USPACOM AOR.  Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in terrorist activities around the world, including in South and Southeast Asia.  The 2016 Global Terrorism Index ranks South Asia as the second most affected region in the world.  Women and girls are impacted by rising extremism differently than men and boys, and they are often the first victims of violent attacks – their rights and mobility, as well as economic capacities are compromised even more than their male counterparts.  Women play a vital role in preventing the spread of extremist ideology and activity.  As community leaders and as mothers, wives, sisters and daughters in family settings and professionals, they shape the values of community members.  Students will develop policy recommendations to U.S. Pacific Command, in working with the appropriate interagency partners, host governments, and civil society stakeholders, on how best to integrate and uniquely leverage women’s experiences, capabilities, influence, and resources to counter violent extremism and improve stability and security within the Indo-Pacific region.

The World Bank

There are 1.8 billion young people living on the planet—1 billion of which will be entering a job market by 2028 that continues to be challenged by technology, automation, and artificial intelligence. In response, governments and development institutions often implement activities and programs that target the supply side or the demand side of the labor market, without coordination or an explicit intention to create linkages in ways that maximize the impact of the interventions and improve job opportunities for youth. This Capstone course looks at youth employment and the future of work in three countries across three continents. Is enough being done and what needs to change by 2030 to ensure that 5 million jobs are created per year to absorb this rapid youth bulge? Students will take stock of existing Youth Employment interventions, identify focused policy areas (e.g. job creation, job quality, job access etc.), determine where interventions are lacking, and make policy recommendations that will enable countries to comprehensively address youth employment.

Global Digital Finance

Global Digital Finance (GDF) is a new industry body launched to develop a global code of conduct and a taxonomy for cryptoassets. GDF is comprised of leading industry players in the global distributed ledger and cryptoasset space. Cryptoassets are global in nature and require a shared understanding of opportunities, risks and practices to be transformative for financial services, society and the global economy. Cryptoassets appear set for continued growth, and offer many new and different opportunities for consumers, businesses and governments. However, without the timely development of standards, there is a recognition by both industry and regulators that misuse and misrepresentation of this transformative technology may increase. GDF is committed to policymaker, regulator and industry outreach, as well as a transparent, inclusive and global consultative process. GDF’s directors are Simon Taylor, a distributed ledger and cryptocurrency specialist who also leads the GDF initiative, and Lawrence Wintermeyer, the former CEO of Innovate Finance.  Jeff Bandman, a former senior official at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and former FinTech Advisor to CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, is also helping to guide this initiative, and will be leading the capstone course in Fall 2018.

International Bridges to Justice

NGOs play a critical role in delivering new and innovative models for social justice. Since 2000, International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) has been working to ensure systematic early access to counsel and rule of law in developing legal systems throughout the world. In 48 countries including Cambodia, Myanmar, Syria, Rwanda, Mexico, Zimbabwe, IBJ works to guarantee access to competent legal representation for all, including the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment and the right to a fair trial. While IBJ’s rule of law based model has been addressing root causes of systemic corruption for many years, current international focus on anti-corruption strategy creates a unique opportunity to have an even greater impact. This Capstone will develop strategies to harness international focus on anti-corruption, advancing IBJ’s mission for development and transformation in legal systems.  IBJ works alongside the UN to implement access to justice as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.” The class will also explore deepening of ties with relevant international partners.  Students may have the opportunity to travel to either Geneva- or possibly one of IBJ’s country offices- in support of the project development and delivery of the recommendations.

The Global Fund

Since its creation in 2001, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria (the GF) has provided grants valued at more than $25 billion to over 100 low and middle-income countries to fight the three major global epidemics which claim about 4 million lives each year. GF investments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have saved over 22 million lives in its first 15 years of existence. Starting in 2014, the GF made a radical change to its policy on allocating funds across countries, adopting a formula that incorporated a range of factors including per capita income, disease burden, past country performance, governance and institutions, etc. The GF is now seeking help from the Yale Capstone program to evaluate how well the new allocation policy is working, and to advise them on how to improve its policy and process going forward, affecting the next $12 billion in grants to be awarded in 2020-22. Deliverables from the Capstone team will include: an initial scoping and work plan; a draft deck/report analyzing the impact and effectiveness of GF grants over the past five years, overall and in 3-5 specific African and Asian countries, and the projected distribution of grants and of health impacts of alternative policies over the next funding cycle; and a final deck/report summarizing this retrospective and prospective analysis and making recommendations to the GF.