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Task Force Q&A with Emma Johnson ’22

March 30, 2022

In winter quarter 2022, over 100 international studies and global and regional studies seniors and several juniors completed the Jackson School’s Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program, a capstone course that involves 10-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. 

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson

Name: Emma Johnson
Expected to graduate: Spring 2022
Degree: International Studies
Task Force 2022: Defining Antisemitism in a Global Context
Jackson School Faculty Adviser: Noam Pianko
Task Force Evaluator: Kenneth Stern, Director, Bard Center for the Study of Hate

What has been your favorite Task Force experience?
Emma Johnson:
My favorite part of the Task Force experience was the collaboration. You do not often get the chance to work in such a fast paced environment with a small group of both students and faculty that are all working to address such important topics, and I felt I learned an incredible amount from my peers as we each contributed our own skills and perspectives. I was originally told that Task Force could be a bit overwhelming and intense, but once I realized that everyone was so committed and truly cared about the work they were doing, it became much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

What key skills do you think the Task Force program gives you?
In my experience, the Task Force program gives you two very important skills. Firstly, the program forces you to challenge your own biases and worldviews as you work to understand and address contemporary challenges. Secondly, it refines the more practical skill of being able to unearth, comprehend, and analyze research to create viable solutions and recommendations.

What impressed you about the Task Force Evaluation Day?
E.J.: In terms of the Task Force Evaluation, the piece that was most rewarding to me was being able to have a lengthy discussion with the evaluator and answer any questions he had regarding our work. It made me realize how much we had all learned over the course of just a few weeks, and that we could actually make valuable contributions that could be applied to the real world.

In your own words, how would you promote the Task Force program?
E.J.: Do it! There really is no other program like Task Force, and it has been the most rewarding and incredible part of my UW experience. It gives you the opportunity to really get involved and have a voice in where you want to take the project, and also allows you to work closely with an extremely experienced professor who gives invaluable insight alongside your classmates.

What career are you interested in pursuing after graduation?
E.J.: I am personally interested in working in some capacity related to foreign affairs – more specifically, research for international NGOs or think tanks, or potentially Foreign Service.