Last week, we held the 3rd Annual Jackson Forum, “Where Worlds Collide” at Horchow Hall.

More than 70 people participated, including board members, Senior Fellows, faculty, staff, World Fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students. It was a great event that gave the Jackson community an opportunity to really consider our role here at Yale and the paths that Jackson students take after graduation. As students, we sometimes take the support and opportunities at Jackson for granted – but one thing that we should never take for granted is that the Institute’s leadership wants to hear our ideas. The Forum was conceived, planned, and hosted by a group of nine students, all members of the Jackson Student Action Committee (JSAC).

The forum was a true labor of love. JSAC started planning the forum in May and continued to coordinate over the summer. The team spent countless hours brainstorming speakers, panelists, and topics to explore the intersection between security and development. The genesis of the idea actually came from a dialogue between faculty and students, in which many raised the question of why the undergraduate major is divided into two tracks, while the graduate course of study provides more flexibility and cross-over. After being accepted to the BA in Global Affairs (a competitive major), Jackson undergraduates select whether they will focus on security topics or development topics. Graduate students, after completion of our three core courses, are free to design a course of study that suits their needs, in consultation with the director of graduate studies and their advisors. JSAC wanted to explore not only how security and development are taught at Jackson, but also how they intersect in practice.

We also ended the day with small group debates on what could be changed about the Jackson curriculum, and what our attendees thought about the divide between the two concentrations. By the end of the day, I realized that regardless of whether Jackson requires the undergraduate students to choose a track or not, the flexibility that the Jackson MA students love is also highly valued in the undergraduate major. The event made me realize again why Jackson is a great community to explore the topics that I’m interested in, regardless of how I want to approach them, or the context in which they are presented. Hearing from Senior Fellows and World Fellows who did not agree of the exact intersection of security and development made me appreciate the diverse viewpoints that we get to listen to and learn from during our time in Jackson.

After some reflection, I believe the Forum accomplished our goals: we raised an interesting topic and heard genuine debate from the community. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have helped facilitate a discussion about the future of Jackson.