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.

Fall 2016 Capstone Projects

Clinton Health Access Initiative

The Ebola Virus Epidemic of 2014-15 claimed more than 11,000 lives in West Africa and highlighted the precariously fragile state of health systems in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. With funding from the WHO and World Bank, Liberia and Sierra Leone are implementing major, nationwide initiatives that focus on building resilient health systems, with the goal of responding effectively to emergent health threats without ever experiencing an interruption in basic health care services. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) has partnered with the governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia to support their efforts in health systems strengthening and rebuilding. CHAI’s work includes efforts in supply chain management, health workforce development, emergency preparedness, and infrastructure improvements. This capstone project will provide support to CHAI in developing and implementing health systems strengthening initiatives in post-Ebola.

National Intelligence Council

China’s investment in Africa has grown rapidly in recent years, with political and socio-economic consequences that go well beyond the investment projects themselves. One consequence has been the emergence and growth of Chinese diasporas, which have had complicated interactions with local African government and communities. For Beijing, these diasporas are potential foreign-policy tools for spreading influence, but also sources of tension with African governments and publics that need to be managed to minimize the harm to other foreign policy goals. For African governments, the Chinese diasporas can be critical to economic development, but the way the individual Chinese immigrants operate or Beijing manages them at times sow discontent in the broader public. This capstone will explore the impact of Chinese diasporas on African countries, with a focus on Beijing’s, as well as African governments’ and publics’, evolving views of them and the implications of these diasporas for U.S. national security interests in Africa.


The National Intelligence Council supports the Director of National Intelligence in his role as head of the Intelligence Community (IC) and is the IC’s center for long-term strategic analysis. Since its establishment in 1979, the NIC has served as a bridge between the intelligence and policy communities, a source of deep substantive expertise on intelligence issues, and a facilitator of Intelligence Community collaboration and outreach.

Department of Justice

Eighty percent of people receive their justice through informal/traditional means. This percentage approximation has been cited for both the people of sub-Saharan Africa and for Afghanistan. International development professionals too often focus solely on the formal legal system when promoting the rule of law and international criminal and non-criminal justice development. This is a mistake for several reasons: 1) Formal legal systems are not accessible to people in many countries because of poor infrastructure and logistical issues; 2) Formal legal systems in most countries are written in the official language(s) and a high percentage of the population is illiterate; and 3) There is tension between formal and informal legal systems that must be mitigated. This tension is often highlighted by the broad philosophical difference between informal justice systems that promote the rights of the community over the individual and formal legal systems that promote the rights of the individual above all else.


ICITAP seeks to initiate a pilot project in Africa that will take a unique approach to building bridges between formal and informal justice systems and will create better governance that can potentially be used to counter violent extremism.

Media Development Investment Fund

Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is a non-profit investor that provides affordable financing and technical assistance to independent news and information businesses in challenging environments. MDIF believes that timely, accurate, and relevant information is critical to free societies and that the best way to support sustainable media businesses is through commercial investment.


MDIF wants to refine its strategy for identifying potential markets for investment. The Yale Capstone class will work alongside MDIF’s research team to develop a model for selecting priority countries in Africa. Students will collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on four criteria to produce the final model: economic prospects, political environment, legal environment and pace of disruption.

Alliance to End Hunger

There are one billion people starving in this world, while more than one and half billion suffer from gluttonous diseases such as diabetes and obesity. International trade policy and large commodity firms have long been held as the culprit for pushing small farmers deeper into poverty, while their own profits, subsidies, and market shares rise. In the “north”, conscious consumers are becoming wiser to what’s in their food and are demanding greater transparency, traceability and local options. While the global debate continues, the daily impact of food insecurity and the lack of food sovereignty is having a negative effect on people in developing countries.


This project will take a deep look at the policies being advocated for and practices being implemented by local hunger alliances in Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia to influence food security, food sovereignty, and hunger policies. Students will evaluate the impact of these actions, identify gaps, and recommend engagement strategies for regional pollination and adaptation of effective programs.

PeaceTech Lab

United States Institute of Peace (USIP) created PeaceTech Lab in 2014 as a separate entity to further advance USIP’s mission: prevent, mitigate, and reduce violent conflict around the world. The Lab brings together engineers, technologists, and data scientists from industry and academia, along with experts in peace-building from USIP, other government agencies, NGOs and the conflict zones. These experts collaborate to design, develop, and deploy new and existing technology tools for conflict management and peace-building. This project will explore approaches to using technology to engage populations in peace-building efforts in Africa, and an analysis of associated risks, challenges, and considerations. We will choose to focus on one particular issue area such as countering violent extremism, hate speech, gender-based violence, or rule of law in a particular country or region and through a certain type of technology.