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 School 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.

The capstone course is led by Casey King, director.

Fall 2022 Capstone Projects

Implementing the Global Fragility Initiative | David Robinson

The Global Fragility Act (passed as a poplar bipartisan measure in December 2019 and signed into law in January 2020) directs the Department of State to create an interagency mechanism—the Global Fragility Initiative—to address the root causes of violence and conflict in chronically fragile states which often serve as proxies for great power competition and produce regional instability. The Act builds on the recommendation of the September 11 Committee to prioritize addressing the root causes of violence and instructs the Department to identify five countries as pilots for the Initiative. The Department has designated the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) as the lead player. Students will work with CSO to finalize the initial list of pilot countries and to develop strategies to meet the 12 political, economic, social and institutional goals identified in the Act.

Documenting International Crimes in Iraq | Jenna Krajeski

In this course students will assist UNITAD with their groundbreaking work documenting international crimes in Iraq, researching past trials and pathways for accountability. What are the ethical considerations inherent to this type of investigation, particularly when it comes to using new technologies? How is UNITAD’s method different from previous investigations, such as in the former Yugoslavia? Can their techniques be applied in current and ongoing crises? And how can the evidence collected be best used to provide accountability?

Oxygen Strategy for the Developing World | Shan Soe-Lin

Tens of thousands of people in developing countries have died unnecessarily due in part to acute shortages in oxygen caused by repeated Covid surges.  Oxygen remains an ongoing blind spot in most global health programs, despite the crucial nature of O2 as an essential medicine and health service benefitting all populations. The Global Fund has asked for support to develop its oxygen strategy by first conducting a situational assessment of the trends, current gaps and future needs for strengthening oxygen supply in L/MICs.  This project offers students the opportunity to support one of the world’s largest epidemic response agencies to help plug a critical gap in respiratory pandemic preparedness and ultimately save lives.

Disinformation and Cybersecurity Disruptions, Ukraine and its Implications | Muhammad Fraser-Rahim

In light of the global impact of the Ukraine conflict, students will engage the global impact of disinformation and cybersecurity disruptions against western nations and multinational companies. Students will work with DHS and enterprise offices including CISA on effective strategies that are innovative and solution oriented. Students will gain access and insights with public-private partnerships impacted by state and non-state targeting of their operations and will seek to provide real world solutions to these ongoing disruptions and targeting. Finally, students will have close interaction with CISA, cyber command and networks throughout Europe in this important and timely capstone.

Women Athletes: Fashion and Equity | Mary Davis

In collaboration with the Sports Integrity Global Alliance, and with a focus on women, students in this capstone will examine issues at the crossroads of sport and fashion, gathering data on the role played by athletes, fashion brands, sports organizations, entrepreneurs, and the media to provide a map of current intersections of fashion and sport with an assessment of best opportunities and most significant challenges of equity, inclusivity and respect.

Toughness | Patrick Piercey

The Navy has identified four core attributes—integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness—as the core of the Navy’s professional identity and it uses them to guide decisions and actions. The Navy currently defines toughness as the ability to take a hit and keep going, tapping all sources of strength and resilience. The project team will develop and use a methodology to study toughness and prepare recommendations to further implement it in ways that strengthen both military and civilian actors.

Lessons Learned from the Afghanistan Peace Process | Andrew Wilder

In December 2021 Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, and President Biden subsequently signed it into law. The NDAA included a provision that had bipartisan support to establish a 16-member Afghanistan War Commission (AWC) “to examine the key strategic, diplomatic, and operational decisions that pertain to the war in Afghanistan….”The assigned task will be to research the various opportunities and diplomatic efforts to achieve a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan between 2002 – 2021, assess why these failed, identify key lessons that need to be learned, and make policy recommendations based on these findings to inform future policymaking.

Solving Challenges in Scaling Health Innovations with the World Health Organization | Bina Valsangkar

Adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives of everyone by 2030. Goal #3, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” consists of several ambitious, important targets, such as ending the AIDS, malaria, and TB epidemics, and ending all preventable child deaths. The SDGs are a powerful, public commitment from countries belonging to the UN, and many countries adopt policy that will help them reach SDG targets. COVID-19 rightfully diverted enormous time and resources to fighting the pandemic, putting the world far behind on meeting most SDG goals and targets by 2030.

To reach the SDG health targets by 2030, The WHO seeks assistance from Capstone students to prototype and workshop solutions to common problems encountered while scaling innovation and provide recommendations on how UN agencies can work together to accelerate innovation and progress toward SDG 3.