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 2019 Capstone Projects

Ending Preventable Child Deaths in Angola | Nicholas Alipui

The capstone project to end preventable deaths among children in Angola will engage 10 – 12 Yale University students to undertake a desk review of relevant research and background materials covering newborn and maternal health. The students will complete a public policy project proposal for the Government of Angola Ministry of Health and UNICEF for implementation. In close consultation with UNICEF and relevant Government of Angola institutions, the students will formulate a project plan and develop strategies that are appropriate and mutually beneficial. The students will refine their proposal into a national strategy and investment plan to end preventable child deaths and reverse Angola’s unacceptably high maternal and newborn mortality rate.

Saving maternal and child lives by scaling up access to prenatal vitamins | Shan Soe-Lin Hecht

This course will allow students the opportunity to support the client, the Kirk Humanitarian Foundation, to achieve its mission to reach 5 million women annually with lifesaving prenatal multiple micronutrient vitamins by developing the business case for investment by global donors and developing country governments.  Students will conduct a situational analysis of the current prenatal vitamin market, estimate the costs of scaling up prenatal vitamin programs and quantify the resulting impact and value of maternal and child lives saved, and calculate the return-on-investment.  Students will gain: 1) experience conducting both quantitative and qualitative analyses; 2) a chance to travel either domestically to the client or manufacturing sites, or potentially priority country partners (TBD); 3) hands-on experience using evidence to drive action; 4) client-management and consulting skills; and 5) most importantly, contribute to a rewarding initiative that will ultimately save the lives of at-risk women and children.

Analyzing Predictors of Success in Training Non-U.S. Security Forces | Michael Kane

This course is in collaboration with the Joint Center for International Security Forces Assistance and focuses on analyzing predictors of success in training non-U.S. security forces. The U.S. extends resources to receiving and host nations in an effort to promote political stability involving the integrated civilian-military process of creating conditions where legitimate authorities and systems can peaceably manage conflict and prevent violence, which define success. Throughout the semester we will create metrics for success; identify and collect data that contribute and detract from success; and develop data-driven methods to understand quantitative relationships between environmental factors and political stability.

The United States Indo-Pacific Command | John Weigold

USINDOPACOM is one of six geographic commands, and the Commander is the senior U.S. military authority in the Indo-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. With headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii, USINDOPACOM 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. Approximately 375,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel are assigned to the USINDOPACOM AOR. A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly involving revisionist governments such as China and Russia, who seek a departure from the established and enduring international framework of norms, standards, rules, and laws. The region represents the most populous and economically dynamic part of the world, and the U.S. interest in a free and open Indo-Pacific extends back to the earliest days of our republic. Students will develop policy recommendations to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, in working with the appropriate interagency partners, host governments, and civil society stakeholders, on how best to leverage efforts, capabilities, influence, and resources to improve stability and security within the Oceania area of the Indo-Pacific region.

Violent Extremism, Gender and Africa | Muhamad Fraser-Rahim

The goal of this course will address the broad challenges looking at the intersection of violent extremism, gender and its place on the African continent. In particular, students will observe, analyze and engage in understanding the intricacies of combatting violent extremism from various policy, practitioner and academic perspectives with special emphasis on the role of gender on the African continent. Across all 54 African nations, extremist groups seek to exploit and recruit various members of society and women have played integral roles both within extremist organization’s and also agents of change on the path of rehabilitation. As such, we will explore the role gender and women more specifically play in being effective voices to help in deradicalization, demobilization and rehabilitation. The course will also look at broader state-level policy in addressing violent extremism issues and its interplay with counterterrorism efforts which may or may not work in tandem. Finally, students will emerge and engage in current and future innovative approaches in combatting extremism which incorporate whole of society approaches to counter and provide alternative messages.

Genocide and Reconciliation: The Future of Yazidis in Iraq | Jenna Krajeski

The course addresses the path toward reconciliation in post-ISIS Iraq, with a focus on the Yazidi minority and the slow return to Sinjar. Violence against Yazidis, and particularly the enslavement of women and girls, characterized ISIS rule. Today they face an uncertain future. Yazidis feel marginalized and unprotected. Without reconciliation with the local Arab and Kurdish populations, they fear that they will remain displaced and that ISIS will reemerge. Working with the International Crisis group, an independent organization working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world, students will examine historical efforts to rebuild and reconcile following war and genocide and will consider the role and responsibilities of local and international actors, including the U.S. and Iraqi governments, NGOs, media, the United Nations, and the courts. Students will be encouraged to think beyond established mechanisms and consider the unique Iraqi context by researching the country and region, as well as the genesis of ISIS. There will be emphasis on interviews with survivors, politicians, activists, and others, as well as the media’s role in reporting on war and its aftermath. The course aims to challenge American narratives about ISIS and Iraq, asking that students approach this complex problem with an open mind and an eye to making an impact.