In winter quarter 2023, 77 international studies and global and regional studies seniors 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 Week, when each Task Force presents to an external, senior-level foreign policymaker.
Name: Keegan Hull
Expected to graduate: Spring 2023
Major: Global and Regional Studies
Task Force 2023: Research for Social Change: Supporting Sanctuary Efforts: Trends in Apprehension Data
Jackson School Faculty Adviser: Angelina Godoy
External Evaluators: Cameron Coval, Pueblo Unido PDX and Emma Ronai-Durning, Rural Organizing Project, Oregon
What has been your favorite Task Force experience?
Keegan Hull: My favorite Task Force experience was analyzing I-213 reports before we began writing our report. I thought that the Task Force project would consist of combing through books and articles on the topic, however we were lucky enough to use data provided by the UW Center for Human Rights to conduct our research. This allowed us to take a break from the traditional “scholarly” research methods (going to the library and scouring the isles) and look at real reports of what was happening on the ground so close to home. Personally, it gave me a much better understanding of how the immigration system in our country works, and the effect of policing by ICE on our communities. This was something we wouldn’t have been able to understand as well from books, as we were the ones doing the hands-on research, and we were the first people to examine the particular set of data.
What key skills do you think the Task Force program gives you?
K.H.: The Task Force Program definitely advanced my skills in research and data analysis. My group got to work with data that was extremely important and interesting in regard to migrant rights and the sanctuary movement – data that we were the first to analyze – and being able to translate that data into patterns and trends in order to aid migrant rights organizations was really fulfilling. My particular Task Force helped me realize that there are so many ways to contribute to the advancement of migrants’ rights, and one way is through research that contributes to wide-scale change, like our Task Force report hopefully did. I imagine this is applicable to all Task Force topics; I just got lucky to be able to work on a topic that I personally am very interested in and I will hopefully continue working in this area in the future.
What impressed you about the Task Force Evaluation Day?
K.H.: It was really nice to have a conversation with someone who has spent so much time in this particular field, and for them to share their perspectives on our project with us. I especially appreciated that it wasn’t just a time for them to critique our report, but to share patterns across our Task Force report and their own work, and to collaborate on how to incorporate our report findings into the evaluator’s own efforts to support the sanctuary movement. Additionally, our evaluator told us that our research was indeed useful and would be shared with their colleagues, and possibly used for things like community education and to pursue legal action against violators of the Sanctuary Promise Act (the law that our Task Force was based around). That was the most impressive part, knowing that our work was not only fulfilling to us and advanced our education, but was effective in making real change.
Your advice to students interested in becoming a Jackson School major?
K.H.: My advice is to explore what interests you the most. There are opportunities to learn from (and work with!) experts in almost any specialty you can think of at the Jackson School. The Task Force program is a really unique way to combine what you’ve learned in your classes (both subject material and skills) and apply them to a real-world issue or event (most likely one that interests/affects you!). I think that when you take so many classes and write so many papers for those classes, it is easy to forget what the major is preparing you for. The Task Force, however, is a great culmination of your work and prepares you well for whatever you might want to do after graduation.