In spring quarter 2023, 18 international studies and global and regional studies students plus a first-year graduate student and three other Social Science majors completed the Jackson School’s Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program, a capstone course that involves eight weeks of research, writing and group collaboration on a current global issue. Student-led and guided by faculty, the program culminates during Task Force Evaluation Day, when each Task Force presents to an external, senior-level foreign policymaker.
Name: Kazuhiko Kimura
Expected to graduate: Spring 2023
Major: Global & Regional Studies
Task Force Title: Japan’s Space Diplomacy
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Jackson School: What has been your favorite Task Force experience?
Kazuhiko Kimura: I have been enjoying the process of applying what I learned on the desk and in the classroom to real-world events. As an international relations student, I have been studying plenty of theoretical things throughout my college life. However, I did not know how what I had learned would contribute to understanding events and incidents going on in the world. It was always exciting to frame the real world utilizing our knowledge.
Jackson School: What key skills do you think the Task Force program gives you?
K.K.: Task Force gives me mainly two skills. The first skill is to bridge the gap between an academic world and a professional world. In my opinion, one of the most frequent issues that international relations students have is that they do not know how they can utilize their accumulated knowledge in the real world. And personally, I didn’t even know that my expertise had the potential to make this society/world better. This Task Force experience broadened my job prospect, and I am now desiring to work as a diplomat in the future. Secondly, I developed problem-identification and -solving skills. During the process of researching and writing a report, I always paid attention to the following questions: what is the question we are tackling; why do we need to deal with the question; what are the strategies that we should take; what are the difficulties for achieving the strategic goals? I am certain that this framework of thinking will be beneficial not only for policy recommendation but also for various kinds of jobs.
Jackson School: What impressed you about the Task Force Evaluation Day?
K.K.: Even though I delivered quite a few presentations before, the Task Force Evaluation was a brand-new experience to me. The reason for that is that we interact with a professional person who has been playing active roles in the real world. Of course, it made me nervous. However, at the same time, I enjoyed very much the process of convincing the evaluator based on what we have researched up until that day. I knew we were confident in what we were talking about in the presentation. The experience of mobilizing our knowledge and answering thought-provoking questions from the evaluator to substantiate our point was second to none.
Jackson School: How would you describe the Task Force program to other students?
K.K.: Task Force program is a great first steppingstone for starting a professional career in this unpredictable and volatile world. Not only does this program give you opportunities to wrap up your academic affairs in college, but also you can develop problem-identification and -solving skills, leadership, and so forth. I believe every step I took throughout the program was good practice before I play a role in the professional world.
Jackson School: What is your advice to students interested in majoring at the Jackson School?
K.K.: My advice would be “Give a shot whatever you want to do.” I remember a moment when one of my professors told me to try anything because you are in college to try, make efforts, fail sometimes, and finally accomplish something great. These words motivated me to work as a coordinator for the project. Keep trying. That’s what I would like to tell future Jackson School students.
Jackson School: Anything else you would like to add?
K.K.: I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Jackson School for giving us such a fantastic opportunity to thrive. I am certain that everything I learned in the program will continue to benefit me forever.