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2021 Charting a Career Path in Global Affairs

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Students Learn Skills Through Immersion in a Real-World Project

This fall, students enrolled in a year-long practicum at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs will immerse themselves in the “how to” of international development. They will take an in-depth look at the elements of building and running successful projects and spend spring break 2022 in Jordan working with a nongovernmental organization (NGO).

The course will be taught by Shoshana Stewart, a Jackson Institute senior fellow and CEO of Turquoise Mountain. The international NGO works in Jordan, as well as Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia, to revive historic neighborhoods and traditional crafts, with the goal of creating jobs, skills, and a renewed sense of pride in areas where local culture is under threat.

“Courses like my practicum are designed to give students an applied, hands-on experience, engaging with everything from community relationships and fieldwork to grant writing, budgeting, and staff management,” says Stewart, one of about 20 Jackson Institute senior fellows who mentor and teach students.

“Courses like my practicum are designed to give students an applied, hands-on experience, engaging with everything from community relationships and fieldwork to grant writing, budgeting, and staff management.” –Shoshana Stewart, Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University

“Using the case study of Turquoise Mountain, this is a great opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the practical realities of development work and to explore whether they want to work in the field, start their own NGO, or work with development agencies and organizations in the future,” Stewart says.

Another hands-on option for students is to complete a “directed reading”—an independent-study course that allows them to design a project customized to a particular area of interest. Working closely with a Jackson faculty member, students produce a deliverable of their choice, such as a policy memo or data set. For students, it is a way to enhance their résumé while doing a deep dive into a chosen topic.

Team Research Yields Report on Systematizing Gender Equity

In spring 2021, master’s student Abby Cohen was part of a team that analyzed the role of agricultural extension and advisory service providers in the coffee and cocoa industries. Cohen and other students produced a report for the nonprofit Women Forward International that identified ways in which a third party could be instrumental in integrating and systematizing gender equity in the providers’ work. The students’ research was part of a Jackson Institute–directed reading course. Cohen, 28, from Bethesda, Maryland, says the course was an opportunity to learn practical skills that could be applied to a real-world project. “One of the highlights was doing research with other students who have a shared interest in gender equity, and shaping it into a useful tool for the industry.”

The Jackson Institute prepares students to understand the world through academically rigorous courses that are taught by faculty who are prominent scholars and practitioners of global affairs. Small by design, with about 35 students per incoming class, Jackson offers a flexible curriculum that allows students to design individualized courses of study, choosing from classes across the university that best match their academic focus and professional goals.

“With this size, we have the luxury of really crafting a community,” Jackson Institute Director James Levinsohn says. “Our students take a tightly focused core curriculum together and each student develops their own bespoke course of study, taking classes at Jackson but also taking advantage of the intellectual playground that is Yale.”