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Task Force Q&A: Paulette Bussard

June 7, 2023

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.

Paulette Bussard headshot

Paulette Bussard ’23

Name: Paulette Bussard
Expected to graduate: December 2023
Major/Minor: B.A. Global and Regional Studies; Philosophy
Task Force Report Title: Hybrid Warfare, Disinformation and the NATO Response
Hometown: Edmonds, WA

Jackson School: Your favorite Task Force experience?
Paulette Bussard: My favorite part of the Task Force program was having the ability to connect with and learn from researchers working with NATO, and more generally, European nations. Within the Task Force, my research focused on hybrid warfare threats directed at the Nordics. The ability to meet with and learn more about the threats facing the Nordics in the context of the Ukrainian conflict provided me with information that was invaluable to my project. Even though I hadn’t spent much of my educational career devoted to the study of warfare or Europe, the opportunity to connect with experts in the field proved to be invaluable to both the task force report and my own education.

Jackson School: What key skills do you think the Task Force program gives you?
Prior to participating in the Task Force program, I had very little experience in research, nonetheless, working with ongoing research within NATO. The opportunity to work with peers and experts in the field of European and NATO conflict has provided me with skills on how to not only analyze developing conflict, but also how to communicate the complexity of dynamic issues that are being faced around the globe. These skills are invaluable to careers pertaining to research and beyond. Skills in research and data collection are vital to nearly every career, and the ability to hone these skills in a professional environment is not a common opportunity to come across in one’s undergraduate career.

Jackson School: Advice to students interested in majoring at the Jackson School?
P.B.: Unique to other majors and areas of study, pursuing a degree in the Jackson School allows you to gain firsthand experience working toward solutions for current issues faced both at home and abroad. More generally, International Studies is a very interdisciplinary field, allowing students to gain knowledge on a variety of topics, regions, and areas of interest. What drew my attention to the Jackson School was the opportunity to participate in ongoing research that had the potential to impact actual international and domestic policies. If you have a wide variety of interests, the International Studies program allows students to engage in topics from all sorts of disciplines, and the sorts of topics that you see being discussed in the Task Force are exemplary of that diversity in thought and education.

Jackson School: What career are you interested in pursuing after graduation?
P.B.: I plan on applying to law school in the Fall and hope to pursue a career in criminal litigation.